Posted by: genevievetaylor | October 22, 2009

Book Review: The Truth About Green Business

Its always interesting reading a book by someone you know. 

The Truth about Green Business

by Gil Friend, Natural Logic

by Gil Friend, Natural Logic

is by Gil Friend, a colleague of ours for several years.  Gil Friend is charming, articulate, direct to the point of “terseness” (as he calls it in chapter – “Truth” 4), and remarkably clear-sighted.  His book is much like him, and will do an extraordinary amount to forward the sustainability movement – just as he himself has.

About the book: The Truth about Green Business lists 52 truths, in 12 categories ranging from the basics of “What is a Green Business”, to more technical issues such as marketing, design, procurement, on to Management, Finance, and even “Future-Proofing.”  Each “truth” is a 3-5 page chapter, and he encourages us to either read it straight through, or to jump around to “Truths” that suit us.  The book is really a web; each chapter points the reader to other chapters that further clarify certain points.

What I loved: His claim to “truths” is a correct one;  he summarizes underlying principles of green business, underlining them with examples occurring in mainstream business as well as from his own experience.  The most inspiring chapter to me was Truth 7: “How Green is Good Enough”, where he challenges his readers to set Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals – and “bet the farm” if necessary.

“Do Less Harm,” he writes, “simply isn’t good enough – not when you could thrive by regenerating and enriching the living systems on which our economy depends.” (p. 28)

I agree with Gil – there is so much more possibility  for action than to just “comply”, “do less harm,” etc.  He offers a new term (to me, anyway)  – “regulatory insulation” – his definition being “to deliver products and servics so good and processes so efficient that you don’t care what the regulators want because you’re years ahead of their wildest dreams.” (p. 32)  With ideas backed by solid business sense, he pushes his readers to think beyond just enough to what’s possible?

Finally I also really just liked the way the book felt; I wondered if there were some new material it used, as Natural Capitalism did in producing its “tree-less” book.

What I want more of: One of the reasons I enjoyed reading this is is because of its brevity and clarity; its “Choose Your Own Adventure” feeling, its apt examples,  its  internal cross-referencing and organization.   On the other side of the coin – the writing style tends towards brief, declarative sentences, lending itself well to the feeling of the “field guide”, but not to a sense of the “quest.”  Given that on the ground, sustainability can look very different from company to company, having case studies or more indepth examples would have been a helpful addition.    Perhaps I would have had a different sense if, there had been a section called “Tales from the Trenches,” or “Overcoming Obstacles.”

But that would have made the book much longer, and dilute the power that lies in brevity.  Perhaps another book?

In sum – I would highly recommend this book to any person who is thinking about “taking their business to the next step” – whether it is someone who is new or a veteran to  sustainable business.   It will answer questions many sustainability champions will ask at one point or another in their effort, and also give them a foundation of important principles of sustainability.  Great job, Gil, and looking forward to the next one!


  1. Thanks for the heads up. Now I know what to say to the question, “What do YOU want from Santa, Daddy?”

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