Three (Free!) Expert Sustainability Sources

by Rebecca Smith Hurd on January 20, 2011
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Not every sole proprietor or small-business owner cares to invest time or money in attending one of the sustainability conferences suggested last week. The good news: You don’t have to go anywhere — or spend a dime — to hear what the experts have to say. Many of their inspiring talks and innovative ideas are available online as audio or video recordings. Here are three websites that invite you to tune in for free.

The Economist
In 2010, The Economist magazine launched The Ideas Economy, a series of events that corralled “top thinkers” worldwide to debate innovation, human potential, and infrastructure, aiming to use their ingenuity to vet ideas and then take the great ones from concept to market. Many discussions are captured on video, including one in which Intuit co-founder Scott Cook shares his thoughts on how to maximize employee performance. Hint: Trade the top-down, hierarchical approach for one of experimentation. Other clips of note are PACT co-founder Jeff Denby’s spiel on his company’s sustainable underwear and business model and NYU president John Sexton thoughts on failing successfully. “If you haven’t failed,” Sexton argues, “you’re not reaching far enough.”

Sustainable Industries
This independent media outlet produces a podcast series that includes interviews with executives who’ve been featured in the bi-monthly Sustainable Industries magazine or at green industry conferences over the past two years. Recent audio recordings include a talk with Portland Mayor Sam Adams about his support for the controversial Oregon Sustainability Center and an exclusive chat with Gil Friend, author of The Truth About Green Business, who explains what drives companies to pursue sustainable goals, as well as some of the tools available to help achieve them.

TED
This small nonprofit group with big ideas started in 1984 as a conference for innovators in the fields of technology, entertainment, and design and has since expanded to embrace all industries and disciplines. Its award-winning website (to which this writer contributes) offers hundreds of videos, or TEDTalks, that run the gamut of business and social topics. On the sustainability front, chef Arthur Potts-Dawson shares his vision for drastically reducing restaurant and supermarket waste, carpet mogul Ray Anderson (who calls himself a “recovering plunderer”) builds a strong case for sustainable commerce, and visionary city planner Majora Carter introduces three entrepreneurial thinkers who are supporting their communities through green, unconventional means.

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