Follow the money, again

A recent installment of New York Times’ series on How to Make Your Business Greener is a reminder that sustainability is its own worst enemy. The Times profiles a small, family-owned tortilla producer and the story lead says it all.

While Joe Santana does not presume to understand all of the latest climate science, he has his own opinions about global warming. But as head of operations at Mi Rancho, a family-owned tortilla producer in San Leandro, Calif., he understands the importance of saving money.

After attending a series of workshops on sustainable business practices, Mr. Santana recently put into action a number of energy-efficiency and waste-reduction measures that he estimates will save Mi Rancho about $100,000 a year and pay for themselves well within the first year. “And if that’s good for the planet,” he said, “all the better.”

All good, right? Wrong. 50% of readers won’t go near the story because of its headline. It says: How to Make Your Business Greener. Even though the story is in the business section the headline is a complete turnoff for the 50% of the population who don’t care about the environment.

The same goes for the workshops where Santana learned how to save money, er green the planet. The workshop as about sustainable business practices. That concept is a turn off for the 50% who are motivated most by making money. Imagine the response if these workshops are promoted as opportunities to add 100s of thousands of dollars to your bottom line with zero risk.

The shortest route to a greener world is to focus on how much more money you will make.