EDF Climate Corps Fellow's three Ps and the fight against "Green"

By Mandy Martin, EDF Climate Corps Fellow at Carnival Cruise Lines, MBA Candidate at Moore School of Business, University of South Carolina, Member of Net Impact

Over the course of my ten weeks at Carnival Cruise Lines, I found myself prowling mechanical rooms, puttering around on the roof, and weaving my way through the kitchen, the data center, custodial closets and the chiller building.  I have measured temperature, light output, square footage and wattage.  I counted light fixtures, occupancy sensors and vending machines.  I even came into work at three in the morning one day – just to test the building management system.  All of this for what?  To help Carnival address the new "Three P's."

My boss currently holds the perception that business priorities are currently changing in a fundamental way. According to him, Corporate America, in the past, was rewarded based on how well it addressed the top priorities -- the "Three Ps.":

  1. Profit
  2. Profit
  3. Profit

As the general public becomes more educated and concerned with treatment of the earth and its inhabitants, the demand for environmental and social transparency, action and accountability is increasing dramatically.  Consequently, he contends that the new "Three P's" relate to a more forward-thinking reward system:

  1. People
  2. Planet
  3. Profit

This change is pushing big companies to address the need to be green with a more ambitious approach than ever before.  I have been delighted to be a part of this process at Carnival as part of the Climate Corps program, where I've recommended projects that could save millions over the course of their lifetimes.

Here's where I have to mention that I am, in fact, against ‘being green.' "What?!" you exclaim.  I can just feel my Environmental Defence Fund mentors, Carnival supervisors and Climate Corps colleagues squirming in their seats while reading this blog.

To explain, I'll provide a small anecdote.  When I was on a university exchange program in Dublin, Ireland, I lived with a quirky, bright Aussie girl who was an excellent chef.  She would buy all fresh, unprocessed ingredients, spread them out on our limited counter space and cook every meal in this manner.   One day, I expressed my sheer astonishment at how she made everything ‘from scratch.'  "From what?" she replied.  "You know, like using all base ingredients instead of anything pre-made or canned – you never cheat."  "Isn't that how most people cook?  I can't imagine eating canned soup – ew!"  Apparently, it had never even occurred to her that people do it any other way.

What does this have to do with my dislike for ‘green?'  At this point in time, being green is the exception to the rule.  It's over and above.  It's extra.  But having green options implies that there are other options.  And this is the reason that I don't like green.

I am really looking forward to the point where green isn't the exception, but rather the norm.  I look forward to when we change our thinking so that we feel that everyone acts green all the time. I look forward to when we all share my Aussie friend's thinking that everyone cooks from scratch – and everyone is inherently green – without any thought at all.

But we aren't there yet.  So for the meantime, while companies are transitioning to the new Three Ps of People, Planet and Profit, I fully support those who are taking that extra leap toward being green.  That way, when we do get there, ‘green' won't exist at all.

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