Environmentalist Brad Fauteux Talks Value of Sustainable Entrepreneurship

Bradley Fauteux is an environmental advocate with over 16 years of experience in conservation work.  He served as the Managing Director of Ontario Parks and the Ministry of Natural Resources, and has worked with more than 300 distinct intergovernmental, community, Indigenous and private sector partners. We recently spoke with Brad Fauteux about how sustainability can be integrated with entrepreneurship and in the process, gained guidance on how business leaders can succeed in developing opportunities that create economic, ecological, and social value.

Q: What in your view is sustainable entrepreneurship? Can you give us an example?

Brad Fauteux: Sure, to put it simply, sustainable entrepreneurship focuses on solving social and environmental problems.  Entrepreneurs who work in the area of sustainability often have innovative business ideas and are prepared to develop their ideas into new markets that generate income to benefit society as a whole.  They are also major contributors in developing a greener economy.  A good example of a sustainable business model is that of clothing company Patagonia.  Patagonia markets sustainable outdoor clothing and apparel and has held ethical and environmental issues close to its core since its inception in the 1970s.

Q: Why do you think incorporating sustainable practices is an appealing opportunity for entrepreneurs today?

Brad Fauteux: Being eco-conscious is simply good business practice, and also makes customers feel like they’re part of a bigger picture by supporting sustainable practices.  Most people think that going green is expensive, but that point of view is quickly becoming archaic.  Becoming more energy efficient or using recyclable materials can actually lead to more business; that’s because an increasing amount of people are looking to support companies that are more environmentally responsible. 

Q: Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs who want to create an eco-friendly business?

Brad Fauteux: There are many steps entrepreneurs can take to create an eco-friendly businesse. A good starting point is to connect with other businesses that have already shown a commitment to being environmentally forward-thinking. These vendors can become your partners in going green.  Things like using sustainable packaging, digital record keeping, using solar panels to generate energy, buying local and using renewable resources are also ways to reduce your business’ carbon footprint and promote sustainability. 

Q:  Some would argue the future of sustainability is in the hands of entrepreneurs.  Why do we need more entrepreneurs in this space?

Brad Fauteux: Unlike many traditional corporations who are oftentimes focused on pleasing their shareholders, I think entrepreneurs are more inclined to implement measures that support sustainability practices.   Oftentimes, they want to be recognized for leaving a legacy, connecting to businesses with purpose, and leading organizations through inspiration.  It’s often as much about leading by example and motivating others to take action than as turning a profit. 

Q: What are some simple ways for existing businesses to minimize environmental impact as part of their core practices?

Brad Fauteux:  They could hire someone, a sustainability ambassador of sorts, to take charge of implementing best environmental practices.  If that’s not financially feasible, an employee or team leader can challenge their coworkers to a “plastic-free” work zone aiming to minimize or eradicate the use of plastic water bottles.  Restaurant owners can trade in their styrofoam to-go containers for recyclable paper boxes and eliminate plastic straws.  I recently went to a coffee shop that offered Mason jars as returnable coffee cups. Even simple measures can be the kickstart to making green initiatives a part of the fabric of your business. 

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