Recap: Green Business Forum - Business as Agents for Social and Environmental Change

Green Business Forum: Business as Agents for Social and Environmental Change
Date: November 1, 2013 Time: 8:00-9:30am

The Green Business Forum on November 1st, 2013 welcomed corporate sustainability leaders on the topic of Business as Agents for Social and Environmental Change. The program was moderated by Doug Weisburger, Manager, Green Business Certification Program, Senior Planning Specialist, Sustainability Programs, Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection. He introduced the topic and the panelists:

  • Ed Groark, Chairman of the Board, Worldwatch Institute
  • Seth Goldman, President and Tea-EO, Honest Tea
  • Scott Nash, Owner, MOM’s Organic Market
  • Melissa Carrier, Assistant Dean, Global Programs and Social Value Creation, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland

Ed Groark presented a global view of sustainability and population growth and the imperative to adapt. He shared that businesses can thrive if they evolve. Quoting Ray Anderson (1934-2011), Founder & CEO, Interface, Inc. (a modular carpet manufacturer) defined corporate sustainability as “to take from the earth only that which can be replaced naturally by the earth.” Click here to view Ed Groark's full presentation.

Seth Goldman spoke about Bethesda-based Honest Tea’s innovation-driven business model and the company’s journey. Sixteen years ago, Honest Tea set out to:

  • Help eliminate billions of calories from the American diet
  • Support the growth of organic agriculture
  • Spread fair trade labor standards in the developing world

This product fit perfectly in the intersection of 3 lifestyle trends that are increasingly influencing consumer and channel purchasing decisions:

  • Health and wellness
  • Environmental consciousness
  • Social responsibility

The company’s mission, distribution and profitability has grown exponentially, in part, due to becoming part of Coca-Cola. In 2008 Honest Tea was distributed in 15,000 outlets and in 2013 it is distributed in more than 100,000 outlets nationally. In 2007 Honest Tea purchased 790,000 pounds of organic ingredients and in 2013 it purchased 5,231,000 pounds. Goldman said the greatest obstacle in breaking into a new marketplace is changing the behavior of consumers and other corporations. However, he found that if a product generates excitement among consumers, they will help drive change in the market. Large companies take longer to adapt, but they will follow if we can prove there is a viable market opportunity. He ended the presentation with a Chinese proverb: “Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the people doing it.” Click here to view Seth Goldman's full presentation.

Scott Nash said MOM’s Organic Market’s mission is “to protect and restore the environment.” The company strives to achieve its mission and have accomplished the following:

  • The first grocery store to ban plastic grocery bags
  • The only grocery store to ban bottled water from its shelves
  • Reducing carbon and energy consumption
  • Installation of solar panels and electric car charging stations
  • Recording customer zip codes and calculating the average distance driven to the store and paying for it ($100,000 last year)

Nash said the greatest companies in the world are progressive – Apple, Google, Starbucks. It is important to show large corporations that using sustainable business practices is a win-win because it benefits the world and improves business’ bottom line.

Melissa Carrier introduced the attendees to the Center for Social Value Creation within the University of Maryland Smith School of Business. This 4-year-old program aims to “create a better world through business principles.” It provides students with hands-on learning opportunities to design creative and entrepreneurial ways to create economic prosperity as well as social and environmental well-being. She said the millennial generation wants to pursue job opportunities that allow them to make a positive social and environmental impact. Click here to view Melissa Carrier's full presentation.

Gigi Godwin, President & CEO, MCCC asked the panelists, “what’s next” in green business? Seth Goldman said we need to promote more sustainable biodiversity for land development. Scott Nash believes we will see a focus on renewable energy and electric cars. Melissa Carrier discussed the need for more job creators in the market so that students can connect their values to their careers.


TOPIC: Business as Agents for Social and Environmental Change

This forum will spotlight prominent corporate sustainability leaders and sustainability trends shaping the next generation of businesses. Learn how established and future sustainability leaders are using the power of the marketplace to improve social and environmental conditions while enhancing their bottom line.


7:30am – 8:00am — Networking and Refreshments
8:00am – 9:00am — Program
9:00am – 9:30am — Book signing, Mission in a Bottle, Seth Goldman


In Mission in a Bottle, Seth shares his start-up success story of Honest Tea. Told in an engaging comic format, the book follows Seth and Barry's efforts to create a mission-driven business in a profit-driven world, sharing personal insights and business lessons along the way.


Seth Goldman, President and Tea-EO, Honest Tea
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Scott Nash, Owner, MOM’s Organic Market
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Ed Groark, Chairman of the Board, Worldwatch Institute
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Melissa Carrier, Assistant Dean, Center for Social Value Creation & Office of Global Programs
Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland
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Doug Weisburger
Manager, Green Business Certification Program
Senior Planning Specialist, Sustainability Programs
Department of Environmental Protection
Montgomery County Government

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