A Business And the Environment

October 20th, 2006 by Hugh

Hilary Franz is an environmental lawyer who represents non-profit environmental organizations. She divides her life between her environmental legal work, small scale farming, home-schooling three boys, and working at Exbiblio. On her desk at Exbiblio there is a book called “Collapse” by Jared Diamond – her reading matter is an indication of her serious concerns about the environment, and the direction of our society.

She admits to being “challenged” by the whole notion of technology. She points to her computer and says that it has a “real world environmental impact”, and in fact, she would throw it out of the window right now, if it were not for the fact that she couldn’t do her legal work without it. She recognises that a computer has benefits as well as minuses for the world:

“It also provides an opportunity for connecting people to education and information that is going to create power for change in the world, and help create a sustainable environment,” she says.

This is why she insists that we should “do honour to Exbiblio”, because Exbiblio states in its values that technology in itself is valueless. It must be a force for good through information, connections, knowledge and the power that comes from each of these to change and improve the world.

Hilary is starting to investigate the best model for Compendia, the non-for-profit organisation set up by Exbiblio to work on the environment. She believes that Compendia goes right to the heart of what makes Exbiblio “so different.”

“People should be inspired to work here every day,” she says. “Wealth will be generated by this product that will then go to fund real life world-changing work; preservation of rain forests, environmental education, tackling climate change. It’s not just about what Exbiblio produces. We are creating a model. The hope is that we will go out and spread this model, speaking about it, talking about it, sharing it with others to transform the way corporations operate.”

“This is a corporate redesign. We are establishing a new set of norms where we direct the creativity and resources of business towards the great challenges of creating a sustainable future, and where the power of real change can be an engine for creativity within the company.”

She says that other companies create wealth, and only then think about whether they might donate some of it to good causes. Exbiblio is about fully integrating its values with the work that it does on a daily basis.

As for Exbiblio, she says, “Here’s a company that’s doing work that needs to be honoured! They are dealing and grappling with the issue. Many companies historically have not always looked at the environmental impacts of doing business. Exbiblio is wanting to make sure that they are not just designing a product to make profit and that will cause harm, but instead they are planning to make profit, while minimizing the harmful impacts, and maximizing value for the environment.”

She concludes,”We can’t say ‘if” this is going to happen. This needs to happen. It has to happen.”

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