Couture Cottons designed using eco-friendly fabrics

Go Green Down Under

Earth Day is this week and while the “Green” industry has exploded along with some green washing, there is however the Green Festival that ensures reputable green exhibitors and businesses at their annual conferences. I found such a company a few weeks ago while attending the event in San Francisco. Couture Cottons lingerie — beautifully designed undies using eco-friendly fabrics. Their tag line is Go Green Down Under. I had the opportunity to meet Sandra Castro Richards, the owner and founder of Couture Cottons, from San Antonio Texas. The more we chatted, the more I liked her and her approach to building her business.

The External Cost of Cheap

Most clothes sold in America are made in sweat shops by children and women in third world countries. The wages are low, the hours are excessive, and the emotional and physical abuse is rampant. Costs are kept low so that we can buy the clothes at an affordable price. Unfortunately, there is a huge price tag on affordability. It’s called external costs. The external cost of cheap has everything to do with the inefficiencies and pollution of shipping raw materials over seas, exploiting human labor, then shipping the finished product back to the USA where more oil is consumed by trucking the product to the department stores where it will be displayed along with other petroleum-made clothes. That’s not the case with Couture Cottons. Couture Cottons has turned down contracts with major department stores in the USA because they could not make a profit selling their undies at the cheap price the stores were asking. Couture Cottons provides jobs for Americans. Their undies are manufactured in the USA where people are paid a fair wage and treated with dignity and respect. The organic undies cost a bit more, but the tradeoff is knowing that your money (voting with your dollars) went to support a small business that is not waging harm on the environment and humans. In addition, the undies are made with organic cotton. That means there are no chemicals sprayed on the cotton, which is much safer for the planet and the people handling the cotton. Now that is what I call a “values based” business. Couture Cottons is clear about their core values. They know where to draw the line in the sand. When your values are clear, then your business decisions are much easier.

People Planet Profit

Richards is part of a growing number of business owners who are putting the triple bottom line concept into action — People, Planet, Profit.  The triple bottom line is about building a profitable business, but not at the expense and exploitation of the planet or her people. This trend has been steadily growing over the last decade. I am seeing more and more eco-green business conferences and green business coaches emerge. Many are legitimate while some are just jumping on the “Green” bandwagon.  How can you tell the difference?  Here are a few of my favorite resources to help you decipher. Be sure to sign up for their blogs and connect with them on Facebook and Twitter. Are you a green business or have a green resource to share? Post it in the comments section below. We’d would love to know about it.

Sustainable Industries – A business source for leaders of the new economy.

Bioneers – An annual conference with a focus on sustainability.

LOHAS – Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability; Market segment news focusing on the environment, sustainable living, and social justice

Triple Pundit – Online news with a focus on green business

Global Exchange – Focus is on building the new global economy – Online news with a focus on green business

Presidio Graduate School – Green MBA programs

Green America – A directory of screened and approved green businesses. Hware is a member. – Agency for sustainable brands specializing in social media strategy, and web marketing

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