That was the main message I picked up in today’s hour-long webinar with ‘Green to Gold’ author Andrew Winston. The presentation was hosted by the ‘Board of Change’, an up-and-coming organization of green entrepreneurs and sustainable types based in Vancouver.

Winston remotely presented a powerpoint show which, while plagued with a few technical difficulties at the outset, was well worth the time spent eating (no doubt toxic) mini cinnamon buns while waiting.

Winston began by forecasting the global environmental solutions market at a whopping $2 Trillion by 2020 (Source: HSBC) He then quoted some prominent capitalists who said we’re basically losing that race to China and India. Green, he stated, has moved from being about polar bears to being about solar panels.

Besides the usual quick efficiency type of green upgrades that pay for themselves right away (example: one hotel chain that spent $400,000 to replace lighbulbs and reaped $1.2 Million in energy savings the first year) Winston gave the advantage to companies that move quickly to voluntary transparency and sustainability standards.

My favourite quote: “If your competitors have stronger standards than your government, that’s the new standard you have to meet.”

So what is to be done? Winston’s prescription is as follows:

Get Lean, Get Smart, Get Creative. Ask the toughest quations of yourself. How would your company work in a $500-a-barrel oil market? Could you operate if your key product (e.g. plastic bags) were banned?

greenrecoverybookBeyond that, Winston says, ask the ‘heretical’ questions. Can a shipping company stop turning left? (Yes) Can cement be made in a way that captures carbon instead of emitting it? (Yes, again) What happens if a trucking company decides to actually go slower? The answer, in the case of shipping giant Con-way, was a 3-million-gallon fuel savings from recalibrating trucks to drive at 62 MPH instead of 65.

All in all, it was a great energy boost from the bigs, if a little short on the kind of initiatives Canadian mom & pop small cap firms might implement.

But at least the world seems to be moving in the right direction.

Thanks, Andrew Winston. I needed that. Tomorrow, I attend the Walmart Green Business Summit.

BTW, Winston’s new book is called Green Recovery. Probably worth a read if you like this sort of thing.

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