The Triple Bottom Line of Sustainability

In 1994, business author John Elkington coined the phrase “The Triple Bottom Line” and  used it in his 1997 book “Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business.” Elkington proposed that companies should acknowledge three bottom lines instead of just focusing on finance. He argued that social and environmental impacts should be considered alongside the economics of running a business.

This principle has also been called “the three Ps: people, planet and profit,” “the three pillars of sustainability,” “TBL” and “3BL.”

Today, this philosophy is the foundation of sustainability and is graphically represented as the intersection of the three bottom lines in the diagram below (from California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance)      Three E’s of Sustainability Image

Practically, the triple bottom line argument indicates that a company specifically, and society, in general, cannot survive unless workers (including their communities) and the environment are protected, while profits are maintained to pay for it all. They are interconnected and the only way to pass everything along intact (and hopefully improved) to the next generation is to maintain all three bottom lines. This, in a nutshell, is sustainability.

~ by Thomas on April 30, 2016.

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