What is the Triple Bottom Line?
The Triple Bottom Line (TBL or 3BL) framework formalized sustainability thinking over 25 years ago. It approaches sustainability in terms of “People, Planet, Profit”. And yet, it is far more than just an accounting tool used to tally up social and environmental impacts versus sales. Full realization of this framework requires deeper thinking about how economic systems work (or don’t work). How could we create a form of capitalism that does more than generate monetary profits? One that actually does good things for people and the earth?
At Diamond Brand Gear, we define our version of the Triple Bottom Line as a framework that accounts for the wellbeing of our craftspeople, our communities, and the Earth. And we acknowledge that for our craft to thrive well beyond the next 138 years, these three forces must be nurtured with equal importance—a challenge we humbly accept.
Business writer John Elkington coined the phrase “Triple Bottom Line” in 1994. First, in traditional business accounting, the “bottom line” refers to either the profit or the loss at the bottom of a statement of revenue and expenses. But the Triple Bottom Line framework adds two additional “bottom lines” to the traditional “profit” perspective. These account for the full environmental and social costs of the business. In addition, the Triple Bottom Line framework encourages businesses to balance their financial growth with responsibility and care for their stakeholders and the planet. Do well by doing good.
Our Three Bottom Lines
People refers to our employees, investors, local communities, suppliers, partners, customers, and future generations. Thus, we want to consider anyone who is impacted by the creation, use, and disposal of our products.
At Diamond Brand, we make products in America with highly-skilled craftspeople that we treat like family. We uplift our employees, creating opportunities for financial success. In addition to supporting equality and community wellness, we build connections that contribute to the wellbeing of our stakeholders. Read more about our People Initiatives and Impact.
Planet refers to our impact on the environment. First, our use of natural resources. Then, our creation of greenhouse gases. And lastly our contributions to waste streams.
Measure twice, cut once is an old adage that is at the heart of our design process at Diamond Brand. Thinking upstream we try to avoid problems in production and, ultimately, later on as our goods are owned and used. Overall, we’ve found that by carefully considering how and where a product will be used, we can effectively “design out” — or avoid — many of the environmental impacts of a product.
Working to live within our means starts with how we design products and ends with how we take responsibility for our waste.
We’ve intentionally renamed “Profit” to “Prosperity” to align with the true intentions of the Triple Bottom Line framework. Over the years, the Triple Bottom Line has sometimes been co-opted as an accounting tool used to tally up social and environmental impacts versus sales.
But we see the value in more broadly defining prosperity beyond our own balance sheet. Why? Because true wealth is defined on many levels. To begin with, true wealth can mean the financial stability of individuals within a society or the ability of a government to provide infrastructure for its citizens. It can stand for tradition and cultural legacy, in addition to the resiliency of a business community to rise from times of turmoil. And lastly, it is the capability for our planet to maintain safe and healthy living conditions. Collectively, these measures of wealth form prosperity. We are striving to do our part to build and maintain them as best we can.
Why use the Triple Bottom Line?
Diamond Brand is a purpose-driven company. We strive to spur positive change in the outdoor industry and our local community. The Triple Bottom Line framework opens up opportunities for innovation, optimization, and collaboration within our Diamond Brand Gear family. As a family, we encourage conversation and continuous improvement in all three areas of the Triple Bottom Line. Together we use it to measure our progress, set goals, and evolve towards a more sustainable future. We don’t just want to be the best at what we do, but have a broad impact while we do it.