This post first appeared on the Environmental Initiative’s blog—we are proud members of this great group!
There are plenty of buzzwords flying around in sustainability conversations – cradle to cradle, carbon footprint, net positive, etc. It is an exciting time of new collaborations and great momentum regarding the role of business in tackling large environmental challenges, but what if while protecting the environment, we do even more?
At Tech Dump, we consider it a great honor and privilege to apply yet another buzzword – “triple bottom line.” We focus on people, planet, and profit, while refurbishing and recycling unwanted electronics for residents and businesses. In doing so, we also hope to invite other organizations to make an impact through their daily business operations.
Beyond our environmental impact, we focus on employability training for adults facing barriers to employment. We firmly believe that just as electronics are not disposable, people are not disposable. While the United States is home to 5% of the world’s population, we consume 25% of the world’s resources and incarcerate 25% of the world’s incarcerated people. Jobs are a small part of the solution. About 75% of our employees have spent time in the justice system, and we are a stepping stone for earning a reputation as a reliable worker allowing for an individual to successfully move on to a livable wage job after successfully completing 9-12 months of employment with us.
It is true that one man’s trash is another’s treasure. While a company may no longer believe a laptop meets their employee’s needs, it may still be a great system that we can refurbish and get back into use. For items that cannot be repaired and reused, we work with vetted vendors to process the components back to usable steel, plastic, silver, gold, etc. And we don’t just want a company to have to take our word for it; we pursued the R2 Certification, a voluntary third-party certification to make sure our practices meet high industry standards.
No matter the tax structure of an organization as a for-profit or nonprofit, the organization must be financial sustainable to ensure important work continues. Previous mentalities of social impact only being possible in the nonprofit sector are long gone—the emergence of social enterprises has shown business principles can be applied to all sorts of structures. Establishing metrics to measure impact, not just our ability to cash flow, allows us to gauge the effectiveness of our efforts.
We recognize every organization is different, so here a few ways to apply triple bottom line thinking:
- How can your current daily business activities increase your social and environmental impact?
- When considering vendors, do you consider a broader social mission in your decision-making?
- What partnerships could allow your organization to increase your impact?
There is no shortage of electronics recycling resources for your home and your business. We’re here to help, so contact us with questions or to learn more.