Regenerative Economics and Small Business

Photo Credit:Ecorepreneurist 

Small business owners have a unique opportunity to reduce (or generate) their community's carbon footprint on a larger scale. Small businesses actually play a larger role in regenerative economics than one might assume.  As a small business owner I often try to operate in a way that is eco-friendly, but it isn't always cheap...Or easy. Green Money Journal lists "real economy circularity" as a core principle of regenerative economics. Here is how Green Money Journal defines real economy circularity:
The economy strives continually to minimize energy, material, and resource throughput radically at all phases of the production cycle, that products are remanufactured, recycled and composted, with natural outputs are safely returning to the biological world and that minerals and human made substances returning to the industrial cycle.
Continually minimize energy, material, and resource radically throughout all phases of the production cycle? You may be thinking about how that will cost your small business a fortune along with being impossible. It is possible, and it may cost more money, but there are financial benefits as well.

Minimizing energy, material, and resources is an investment. Yet it is an investment that has actually provided a significant increase of revenue for my business in the past year. I attribute this ROI to a handful of reasons:

  1. In an attempt to reduce energy and material, I decided to make my products in-house. Now I direct control of my manufacturing, which subsequently has increased the quality of my products, created jobs, and yields far better profit margins. 
  2. Marketing. An eco-friendly marketing campaign can do wonders for a business. Potential customers love to hear that you use recycled materials in your products, drive fuel-efficient vehicles, and promote local vendors. 
  3.  Taxes. You receive tax credits for having energy star qualified products ranging from special windows to water reduction toilets. The more sustainable your business is, the more tax credits you will receive. 

My experience attempting to create a sustainable business has been a lot of work, but has been wonderful. The monetary benefits of sustainability have have been great, but the sense of personal accomplishment and liberation are what I value the most. I highly recommend incorporating regenerative economics into your small business, but that ultimately is up to you. If you do choose embrace regenerative economics, treat it like the investment that it is. The more time and effort put forth will yield a better ROI, both financial and personal.

Learn more about Regenerative Economics

Learn more about Green Marketing

Learn more about Earthwise Sustainability

Architecture and Regenerative Economics

Like many other professions, architects are looking at different ways that they can get involved with creating a regenerative economy. In specific, architects at the Pelli Clark Pelli firm in New Haven, Connecticut proposed three plans for three different projects in 2012, that were all concerned with urban regeneration, environmental sustainability, and economic development. In the linked article below, the author discusses how architects have a huge impact on these topics, as they make pressing decisions about urban growth, and what they are leaving behind for future generations to come. This article touches on the importance of working collaboratively to create a more sustainable future in architecture, urban growth, and the world. Check the article out here to learn more about the relationship between architecture and regenerative economics.


What is it? The Biomimicry Institute describes this principle as, “an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies.” (

Nature is the original, and has already solved many of our current dilemmas in regard to sustainability. Using nature’s own systems and design in business can solve problems that humans do not conceptualize. We need to ask ourselves how nature would make and/or use materials. When materials are no longer needed, they can be broken down to fuel another system, or emulating nature’s own processes with sustainable materials.

A real-world example is MIT’s “artificial leaf”:

This “leaf”, “made of silicon, electronics, and various catalysts that spur chemical reactions within the device, the artificial leaf uses sunlight to break water into hydrogen and oxygen which can then be used to create electricity in a separate fuel cell. Placed in a gallon of water and left in the sun, these artificial leaves could provide a home in the developing world with basic electricity for a day…”

Other examples include
  • Velcro, inspired by a Swiss engineer whose dog was covered in burdock burrs
  • A shark-skin inspired material designed to reduce drag and conserve energy for boats, airplanes, windmills, and more
  • Dew Bank Bottle which collects morning dew, inspired by the Namibian Beetle which catches water droplets by raising it’s back as fog rolls over and collects into chutes toward it’s mouth

Want to continue learning more about Biomimicry?

Watch the following TED talk by Jane Benyus, conservationist aiming to inspire inventors, engineers, businesses with biomimicry

Read about the Biomimicry Institute's own initiative:

Thinking Beyond Yourself: A Lesson in Utilitarianism

Utilitarianism is one of the most powerful and persuasive philosophies in ethics. It is the belief and doctrine that a morally good action is one that helps the greatest number of people.  It is the idea of every time you make a decision, the only influence of your choice is whatever benefits the most people.  There is a sense of thinking beyond your own personal gain in utilitarianism.  There is a beauty in subtracting your own emotion and inherent selfishness out of decisions. In no way am I telling anyone to drop whatever moral code they live by and become utilitarian, but I do pose a suggestion to become an ecological utilitarian.
Credit Manhattan Edu
(1908: Utilitarian-minded movement developed, centered on practical aspects of urban growth. San Diego)
A common question that I get when describing regenerative economics is “How can I create global change when I am just one person? “.  The response to this question is critical. I have to try to influence this person into a lifestyle change with an elevator pitch.  It is easy to tell people to buy energy efficient light bulbs, recycle, reuse, drive less, and so forth, but I think we need to focus on the why of these suggestions. It goes beyond telling to join the movement in saving the planet. It goes beyond your own personal gains.  Here are some of my brief talking points when presenting this argument:
  •       Committing to an earth-wise lifestyle is not easy. There will be a little bit more work in your day-to-day activities.
  •       Think beyond yourself. You may have to make sacrifices, and they might not always be easy, but they are the greater good of mankind.

       I am not asking anyone to change their entire lifestyle or moral compass, but I am asking you to think about the greater good of society the next time you buy light bulbs or choose between driving your car or riding the bus. I ask that when you come to a crossroads between choices in which may have a positive or negative ecological outcome, please choose the positive action.  A lifestyle of ecological utilitarianism may not always be easy, but it is a small sacrifice for the greater good of the world. 

      A more in-depth explanation of utilitarianism here

One Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

I’m a strong believer in the popular saying “one picture is worth a thousand words”. This idiom refers to the notion that an image of a subject conveys its meaning or essence more effectively than a description does. When it comes to the environment or regenerative economy, utilizing images or adds to raise awareness about our actions and how they impact the environment (with the least amount of words, or sometimes, no words) may interest people of all ages and backgrounds about the subject, without overwhelming them with ambiguous and complicated jargon which they may or may not know about. Here are some of the images that I have found very creative and compelling.

Small Steps to a More Sustainable World

Small Steps to a More Sustainable World

On September 22 2015 Paris France decided it was going to institute a citywide car free day.  It was a success you can read about it here:

Now what can we do with this information? Do you think we could institute a citywide car free day in our most polluting cities in the United States? What kind of impact would it have on our CO2 emissions nationwide? Well  the blog green is my thing  has already done the math for us:

          254 million Approximate number of cars/light trucks registered in the U.S.
          36.92 Approximate number of miles driven by the average U.S. car per day
          24.1 Approximate fuel efficiency of the average U.S. car/light truck (in miles per gallon)
          0.008887 Approximate number of metric tons CO2 emitted by one gallon of gasoline

So, when we do the math…
[(254,000,000*36.92)/24.1]/.008887=3,458,068 metric tons of CO2

So, if everyone in the U.S. stopped driving for a day, theoretically we would prevent approximately 3.5 million metric tons of CO2 emissions. Not bad!

What could potentially be achieved if we instituted one of these days every month in every major polluting city in the world? How easily would we be able to reduce the amount of emissions annually with a simple ban once a month?

Using Other Forms of Energy: The Rise of Solar Panel Installations

Using Other Forms of Energy: The Rise of Solar Panel Installations

Another huge part of regenerative economics is to use the already existing resources that don’t negatively impact the planet, but are cleaning offered up by our planet. A few of these include the use of wind energy and solar energy. The great news is that Solar energy and the use of solar panel installations is on the rise in the U.S. This is fantastic news, much of which is the direct result of incentives that certain states are giving their citizens that harness this clean form of energy. According to Glenn Meyers and the data he has collected in solar energy;

“1. Annual count of solar panel installs has increased to nearly 80K in just two decades

2. California counts the most solar panel installations, with almost 300,000

3. California, Texas, and Colorado offer the most incentives for rooftop solar

4. California, New Jersey, and Arizona have the most installs per incentive

All four of these findings are the result of a positive move forward: the more reusable energy that we collect and use, the less non-sustainable energy that is being collected and used. Although this is just a small step toward a solution it shows great promise.

Glenn Meyers entry on planetsave can be found here:

The Industrialized Food System and Its Ecological Impact!

The Industrialized Food System and Its Ecological Impact!

The way we eat as a nation continually has an impact on our environment as a whole. Not only does what we eat have an impact, but also what we package that food in and how we come to process it later in order for the masses to consume it. Many novels and documentaries have been created around this very topic. Clearly it is an important point to consider when looking at all of the resources that we are using to simply feed ourselves.

There are many ways in which we can rectify this increasing problem one of which is to consume produce and other food products that are grown locally. A great resource to understand more about food systems is:

Some incredible reads on the subject include:

-The Omnivores Dilemma- Michael Pollen
-In Defense of Food- Michael Pollen
-Fast Food Nation- Eric Schlosser

Resources for Building Regenerative Communities

The above article identifies 8 principles to systemic health and regenerative economies:
1. Right Relationship; we are all part of an interconnected web of life
2. View Wealth Holistically; not just money but social and cultural capital
3. Adaptive Response; continuous learning and innovation
4. Empowered Participation; contributing to the whole
5. Honors Community and Place; recognizing the uniqueness of mosaic of peoples, resilient communities
6. Edge Effect Abundance; "Edges are also where risk lies. At those edges the opportunities for innovation and cross-fertilization are the greatest"
7. Robust Circulatory Flow; regeneration, robust flow of money, information, resources, while flushing toxins
8. Seeks Balance; large and small, collaboration and competition, healthy networks

What is a Regenerative Community? Described by the Council of the Anthroposophical Society as, “one that moves beyond sustainable and is rather in a continual process of renewal and restoration in order to move toward greater and greater health and balance. A regenerative community is able to withstand inevitable external pressures and stressors in the three realms of social life — economics, politics and culture — due to its collaborative nature between these activities in social life."

Key Attributes of a Regenerative Community
  • Resilience
  • Living simply
  • Tapping into inner resources through nature and spirituality
The referenced guide provides several resources in starting meaningful dialogues regarding regenerative and sustainable communities; action plans, cultivating leadership, spiritual capitalism, and more. I encourage you to review this resource in full if you are engaged to make a difference for those around you and within your own community towards regenerative living.

Current “Conscious Community-Building Initiatives
  • Bioneers, a nonprofit educational organization that uses a nature-inspired approach to connect people to solutions
  • RSF Social Finance (guide contributor); working with investors and non-profits to fund initiatives related to food, agriculture, sustainability, and environmental stewardship us
  • Find a local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and be provided with local, fresh food and develop a closer relationship between farmer and consumer

Sustainable Communities Game
Interactive online games aimed to help kids from various ages understand themes of sustainability including travel, environmental issues, energy, and communities