Is Lean Green By Any Other Name?

The concept of sustainability has considerably proliferated during the past few years, and many organizations are recognizing its importance. Techniques and practices that consider environmental impact and minimize the use of energy do not only benefit society, but promote a more effective and successful business. A lean initiative, and the culture it fosters, perfectly complements and supports sustainable practices. Lean’s primary function is to reduce waste, and lean’s power to accurately identify and measure environmental wastes will only result long-term improvements and profits.

The popular terms that have emerged to identify this approach that incorporates sustainability and lean are “lean and green” and “green manufacturing.” When I recently received this announcement for an upcoming lean workshop (sponsored by Sherwin-Williams) focusing on environmental concerns, I was introduced to a new term: “Eco-Lean.” What other terms have you seen to describe these new initiatives? Which one do you think is the most accurate? Whatever term emerges as the standard, the goals and results remain the same, and a provocative thought emerges: capitalism and environmentalism can actually enhance each other.

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