Triple bottom line

We don’t just do it for the money…

Assuring our ethics is displayed in our economics.

The “Triple Bottom Line” is concept that has gained popularity and credibility since its first introduction in the mid 1990’s. TBL, or 3BL, refers to the social, ecological and economic bottom lines of any business, whether for-profit or non-profit. The three bottom lines are also sometimes referred to as “people, planet, and profit” or “folks, place, and work.”

The idea behind TBL is that an expanded set of responsibilities and criteria need to be taken into account in any organization, beyond simply its economic bottom line. An organization’s impact upon the natural capital and the social capital with which it interacts are equally important to the economic capital. This means that you can’t only use dollars as the complete measure of your success, for this speaks only to the traditional economic bottom line. Non-monetary considerations of your business’s impact on the people and ecology it affects must also be used as equal measures of your success.

The concept of TBL demands that a business’s responsibility lies with stakeholders rather than shareholders. In this case, “stakeholders” refers to anyone who is influenced, either directly or indirectly, by the actions of the firm. According to the stakeholder theory, the business entity should be used as a vehicle for coordinating stakeholder interests, instead of maximizing shareholder(owner) profit. What usually results is that your economic profits increase because your customers recognize that you are in business to improve the lot of your community and your environment and not only your own well-being. You are “doing well by doing good.”

In a farmers’ market situation, this can be seen as not focusing solely on selling product (economic), but rather of offering locally produced items (ecological) produced by local people [social] to local people (social). Similarly, having a farmers’ market results in the creation of a community meeting place (social) where shoppers can socialize and where they can purchase foods produced by the employment of local people. Since this entire package is what increasing numbers of shoppers are seeking, it is wise to keep in mind that we are not at market simply to push product. We do well by doing good.

Links to more information about Triple Bottom Line:

About Tom Roberts

When I started attending the Brewer Farmers’ Market back in August of 1983, my sole concern was being able to sell the produce my farm was growing at a good price. After attending market for a year or two, I began to realize that how the market was organized had a great impact on my sales. And how the market was organized also influenced how it made decisions about dues, new members, what could be sold at market, and how it promoted itself—and this, too, had an impact on my sales. So I got involved in the market’s steering committee and began to understand how various market members thought the market should operate. Some wanted a market czar, some wanted everyone to be allowed to do their own thing. But everyone seemed to agree that if the market as a whole did well, then so did they.