Thinking: No Box Required

June 1, 2008
Recently, I was reading an article about why and how and when people in the business world will start taking this whole sustainability thing seriously.

Recently, I was reading an article about why and how and when people in the business world will start taking this whole sustainability thing seriously. The author (and I hope it wasn’t me) sort of concluded that it will require some out-ofthe- box thinking. He (or she, since it was in one of those airline magazines I always mean to keep but never do) then went on to list numerous ways companies can save money and save the planet—to say nothing of the whales—all at the same time by thinking outside the box.

The jolt of the landing gear on the runway provided the perfect Zen intervention. The blinding flash of the obvious was, or is, that there is no box. Or, should not be a box. We should never have gotten into a box that requires we think our way out of it in the first place. Anyone raised on old cowboy movies knows a box canyon is not someplace to park your cattle.

One of the better (slightly awkward) slogans I heard years ago at an event sponsored by the Reusable Packaging Association (formerly the Reusable Pallet and Container Coalition) was, why pay for something twice that you’ve already purchased? Such obvious, straightforward thinking always has trouble getting traction in the business world.

My e-mail box is littered with examples of companies currently doing the green thing, many of which we write about. I scratched around in there, looking for some examples of the kind of straight thinking I needed to prove my point. Here’s one.

Clark Transfer, logistics and transportation specialists that move Broadway, ballets and symphonies, has joined with the entertainment industry and NativeEnergy, a provider of sustainable energy resources. Together, they’ve launched Touring Green, a partnership to offset the emissions produced by transporting scenery, costumes, props and instruments from coast to coast. The touring productions will offset the carbon emissions from transporting their sets, instruments and other theatrical equipment. Offsets will be generated by new wind turbines, methane digesters on American family farms and landfill gas projects.

Finding the hook between what you do and how to do the right thing is certainly a challenge. As Charlotte St. Martin, executive director of the Broadway League, the national trade association for the Broadway industry (600 members strong), says, “Many of us are concerned about global warming, but one of the hardest things to do is bridge the gap between inclination and action.”

Clyde E. Witt
Editor-in-Chief • cwitt@

Join the club, Charlotte. The thought process was linear: Broadway needs to move stuff; Clark Transfer ( moves stuff and NativeEnergy ( helps build renewable energy projects. NativeEnergy leverages market demand for carbon offsets to bring on line new Native American, family farmer and community-owned renewable energy projects. Through its approach of bringing upfront payment to renewable projects for the estimated future carbon offsets, NativeEnergy enables its clients to help directly finance the construction of specific new wind farms and other renewable energy projects.

Ideas can accelerate at blinding speed when the time is right. How far we’ll get down this path toward sustainability is not important. That we take those first, even if wobbly, steps is what matters most.

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