Stamford native Justin Ragusa believes business has a responsibility beyond turning profits at the cost of all else. Sitting outside his Gofer Ice Cream location in Darien, he makes it clear that he embraces the philosophy of the “people, profit, planet” ideology of the Triple Bottom Line.
“The whole idea is to help usher in a new era in business, one where people move forward with an ecological and social conscience,” Ragusa says. Behind him some of the last rays of summer shine on flowers and greens lining Gofer's outdoor eating area.
Ragusa believes there is plenty of room for a business to be successful without sacrificing the environment or employing exploitative work practices. The Triple Bottom Line first popped up in 1994 and has gained momentum since. A key difference is that the responsibility is to the stakeholder, the person directly affected by actions of the business, not solely to the shareholder.
“It's great to make a profit, but you should also give back,” Ragusa says. “There are two ways to look at it: You can use some of the profit you make to enact a difference or you can incorporate those ideals upfront.”
For his part, Ragusa uses environmentally friendly green products, such as “plastic” containers made from corn. They biodegrade more quickly and are a small move away from a petroleum dependency.
Also, the principles of the Triple Bottom Line show in Gofer's willingness to help local charitable events. Ragusa also noted plans are under way to convert some of the stores to 100 percent renewable energy sources.
To spread the word, Ragusa began People.Planet.Profit.Blog, a portal for information on green jobs and practices. It's only a few months old, but he said it is gathering steam. Those who sign up for the free inner circle will have access to job postings in the green industry and informative videos on how to incorporate the Triple Bottom Line philosophy.
“We really want to incorporate these ideals into the corporate culture itself,” Ragusa says. “We're trying to lead by example with our own business. You have to walk the walk.”