Summary of Green to Gold

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Green to Gold book summary

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


Sesame Street's Kermit the Frog famously observed, "It's not easy being green." Whether easy or not, environmental and social pressures are pushing more and more companies to ride the "green wave" to ecological sustainability. In this beautifully organized, crisply written book, Daniel C. Esty and Andrew S. Winston, both Yale professors, describe how sustainability can create competitive advantage. They succinctly make the business case for sustainability, and then provide a playbook of green strategies and tactics. The presentation is neither too abstract nor too detailed: It's just right. Nor is their presentation one-sided: They enumerate many ways sustainable products and strategies can go wrong. While some of their suggestions may seem obvious, the authors deserve praise for collecting so many excellent tips and tricks, and for describing them in memorable (mostly) jargon-free prose. getAbstract highly recommends this smart book to any business leader who wants to move beyond rhetoric to action. While Kermit's wisdom is doubtless correct, this handbook makes being green much easier.

About the Authors

Daniel C. Esty is Hillhouse Professor of Environmental Law and Policy at Yale University, where Andrew S. Winston is Director of the Corporate Environmental Strategy Project.


Sony's Nightmare Before Christmas

Christmas time usually brings visions of carols, candy canes and sugarplums. But as Christmas approached in 2001, Sony executives instead had visions of toxic cadmium dancing in their heads. The Netherlands had impounded more than a million PlayStations destined for Santa's sleigh. A cable on the machines, it turned out, contained too much of the element cadmium, in contravention of Dutch environmental regulations. Sony fixed the problem, but it wasn't cheap. $130 million later, Sony found the source of the tainted cables after inspecting 6,000 factories. This crisis led to a new – and better – supply chain system. From a small bit of cadmium in some PlayStation parts, Sony learned a valuable lesson: Smart management of environmental issues is about more than hedging against downside risk. Other companies, including GE, Wal-Mart and Goldman Sachs have learned the same lesson. As Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott sees it, environmental initiatives "will make us a more competitive and innovative company." Environmental responsibility needn't be a fetter wrapped around your ankle. Instead, make it your comparative advantage. Let your competition be fettered...

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