"Nine people have been killed by tigers in the Sumatran rainforest in the past two years, 'mostly illegal loggers,' according to news reports. Poetic justice?

A satirical article in this week’s Onion humor newspaper profiles an angry U.S. Environmental Protection Agency administrator’s Earth Day complaint that the EPA has done much to accommodate the environment—while Nature has done little to accommodate civilization.
“For over 40 years we have worked tirelessly to ensure the health and safety of our natural environmental,” complains the administrator in this parody. “If the environment won’t even meet us half way by regenerating a rain forest or two. . .what’s the point of trying?”
Nature showing bad behavior?

These news bits notwithstanding, Nature is not a personality, though activists in the environmental movement do express value systems -- frequently crossing the line from practical business model to “moral imperative.” There’s nothing wrong with adhering to personal values. But as one of the woodworkingnetwork.com site visitor noted, there can be a danger of over-emphasizing the green side of the business to the detriment of profitability—“green” in the other sense.

So how green should we be? In my opinion, as green as  market realities will sustain--and pay for. When Steelcase moved to eliminate PVC in edgebanding (Steelcase is using a proprietary polyolefin blend material to replace PVC in its worksurface edge banding, a material flexible enough to manufacture curvilinear shapes, and shapes with small radius corners yet potentially recyclable) it made the move once it was a practical manufacturing choice.

Likewise when Masco took the steps launch its Environments For Living program, which helps builders construct new homes that earn the ENERGY STAR certification (more than 130,000 homes have been constructed under the Masco program) it had a profit-centered business model in mind, which also accrued benefits to the environment.

And when Kimball Hospitality recertified its Forest Stewardship Council FSC certification, it took an action that had proved its market value since Kimball Hospitality first established FSC certification in 2007.

Of course, the full spectrum of green practices, or more correctly, sustainable practices, are greater in scope than chain of custody of wood and wood products, environmental impacts, carbon footprints and the like. They encompass the broader scheme of corporate social responsibility. These are matters that move beyond compliance with government rules and regulations, to concerns for the welfare of employees, and the communities in which businesses operate.

Experience is proving that operating under the principles of corporate social responsibility accrues practical benefits for businesses--from leaner, more profitable operations, to stable and productive workforces. And ultimately, that makes for green deliverables in every sense of the word.

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