By Kevin Grunewaldt, Director of Finance at Left Coast Naturals
As a business school graduate and Chartered Professional Accountant I can’t discount the importance of money in society. While it’s been proven time and again that money can’t buy happiness, a lack of money can sure create unhappiness. Often money gets a bad rap, but in reality the bad reputation should be attributed to the people misusing it. In the right hands (your hands!) money has enormous potential as a tool for good.
I came to Left Coast Naturals because I wanted to feel better about the time and energy I was investing every day at work. My family had started making purposeful changes in our day-to-day lives by starting to buy local and organic food, shopping at local small businesses and farmers’ markets, reducing our use of household chemicals, and volunteering at a local wildlife rehabilitation centre (Critter Care Wildlife Society), but I wanted to be part of something more.
When I first learned about the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility back in university, I thought it was a no-brainer for every business. So much money, so much potential for good sitting right there in public and private enterprise, but why wasn’t everyone onboard? Since then, social responsibility reporting frameworks have been developed, such as the Global Reporting Initiative and B Corp (of which Left Coast Naturals is a founding member in Canada), and terms like “Triple Bottom Line” and “Ethical Investing” have become mainstream. If the business world is changing, where is the good coming from it? We still see regular reports of environmental damage and degradation, extreme weather and worker mistreatment at home and abroad.
The reality is that consumers have been slow to change their spending habits to support the changes in the business world. Hopefully we are beginning to come out of a period where we were happy to take quantity over quality, blissfully unaware of the true costs of our decisions. The original The Story of Stuff provides a great introduction to the true environmental and social costs of these decisions, while the movie Food, Inc. was my personal motivation to forego (delicious, delicious) meat in favour of a vegetarian and mostly organic diet for the sake of the environment and (mostly) my conscience. I subscribe to the idea that when we spend our money we are, in effect, voting for a specific company’s success. In an age of voter apathy, where corporations exert significant political influence, it’s nice to know that I have a chance to vote every day, with every dollar, for the principles I believe in, be it animal welfare, environmental protection, or fair labour practices on the other side of the globe.
While not everyone is yet able to work for a progressive company embracing the triple bottom line approach to business, anyone can do good just by allocating a portion of their spending budget to supporting the success of companies with sustainable business practices. It’s difficult to buy everything sustainable or organic, but every dollar (vote) counts when supporting positive change. Remember, you aren’t the only one voting – it’s me, your family and friends, your neighbours…we’re in this together, and together we can put money to work as our tool for good!