Ep. 98: Joel Makower – co-founder & chairman of GreenBiz ||
For episode 98 we welcome Joel Makower, chairman of GreenBiz. For more than 30 years, Joel has been a well-respected voice on business, the environment, and the bottom line. Joel Makower is co-founder, chairman and executive editor of GreenBiz Group, Inc. Among his duties at GreenBiz, Makower hosts the annual GreenBiz forums and is author of the annual ‘State of Green Business’ report.
A former nationally syndicated columnist, Joel is author or co-author of more than a dozen books, titles include: ‘The New Grand Strategy’, ‘Strategies for the Green Economy’, ‘Beyond the Bottom Line: Putting Social Responsibility to Work for Your Business and the World’, ‘The Green Consumer’ – just to name a few. Awarded the Hutchens Medal by the American Society for Quality, The Associated Press has referred to him as “The guru of green business practices.” In 2014, Makower was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the International Society of Sustainability Professionals.
Much of our conversation in this episode focused on the Circular Economy. The United Nations Industrial Development Organizations (UNIDO) describes this holistic approach as, “A circular economy is a new way of creating value, and ultimately prosperity, through extending product lifespan and relocating waste from the end of the supply chain to the beginning – in effect, using resources more efficiently by using them more than once. In a circular economy materials for new products come from old products. As much as possible, everything is reused, remanufactured or, as a last resort, recycled back into a raw material or used as a source of energy. ”
Offering a more concise description of what a circular economy could do for the stability of the planet, Makower explains the system as “keeping molecules in play“. Joel leverages an in-depth understanding and appreciation to evolve common practice of businesses and consumers alike. As such, his work focuses on three principal topics:
- How companies of all sizes and sectors are integrating environmental thinking into their operations in a way that produces business value.
- The creation of new companies and markets for clean energy, clean water, and advanced materials.
- The strategies and tactics that companies use in order to communicate and market their environmental efforts and leadership, especially to consumers.
In our 50 minute discussion we cover stakeholder value vs. shareholder value. We discuss a bit of politics and the potential for sustainability and Green Business under the Biden administration. We learn where things stand with the Paris Accord and what we should do, now. We explore if biodiversity could replace the siren song of Carbon. I learn more about the history of GreenBiz and how Joel and his talented team have been able to not just weather the storm in 2020, but thrive. Additionally, we discuss the role of business leaders in climate action and how business itself as an arm of the voter/ consumer can influence policy moving forward.
Joel Makower has been a commentator on environmental topics for public radio’s “Marketplace” and appears frequently in both broadcast and print media. He serves as a board member or adviser to both for-profit and nonprofit organizations and speaks regularly to companies, industry groups and business schools around the world. I encourage all of listeners to get on the GreenBiz mailing list, to attend his conferences, and seek out other speaking engagements featuring this expert in all things sustainable.
Tune in to ep. 98 to learn from a man with unique sagacity about what it’ll take to save the planet through better business. As Joel explains it, “this is a massive economic opportunity masquerading as an environmental problem.”
photo credit: New York Times & Gage Skidmore