What Is A Triple Bottom Line Business?
Somewhere on our website, you may have read the words "triple bottom line." As more people choose to build businesses that aspire to create positive change, the triple bottom line is used more and more to describe their companies' strategy and approach. It means that a business applies a framework that positively impacts three areas: the environment, the economy, and the social development of a group of people. While it is rooted in accounting (and originates from the term "bottom line"), it is used intensely in the social impact community to measure the positive impact a business creates.
Our road into food production (and running a food business) came by accident. I wanted to tackle the rise in anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic hate crimes and speech that had jumped after the 2016 election cycle began. I spent the next year hosting Shabbat Salaam interfaith dinners across the US before people requested selling our foods. After being accepted into the TED Residency for our "Interfaith Meat" and Shabbat Salaam events, I moved to New York City and founded Abe's Eats.
Despite being in a saturated market, some key characteristics separate us from our competition in food. These characteristics also happen to be intertwined with our triple bottom line.
As a public health practitioner, I knew that if I wanted to sell animal-based meat products, I needed to make sure our carbon footprint would be the least possible. So Abe's committed to exclusively working with local farmers and ranchers who compete against ~80% of the "American" grass-fed products imported from South America. Our farmers and ranchers would also have to follow regenerative agriculture techniques to use their skills to help rebuild topsoil - one of the essential tools in our fight against climate change - and help Abe's create positive ecological impact. Therefore, sourcing locally and following regenerative agriculture became our environmental impact. Our commitment to the environment wasn't internal. We have joined the Climate Collaborative, are studying how to apply Sustainable Development Goal #12, and consistently researching other ways to be better our ecological standpoint.
As a business that began out of the need to help foster interfaith unity and inclusivity, our social impact was well-defined and intertwined within our organizational structure. Our programs - be they Shabbat Salaam, Yalla Yalla!, Cut The Beef, and so on - build on a mission to create a more inclusive world that fosters interfaith unity and dialogue. It is part of our identity. It is part of our social impact. Most recently, we have begun teaming up with other interfaith organizations to co-produce products and programs like NewGround and OneTable. We have also set aside a 5% fund to donate to organizations that are helping to promote this form of social impact across the United States and around the world. Our latest Community Partner includes the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom.
Across all the triple bottom line measurements, I believe the most crucial factor we must build on is the company's economic impact. Offering someone a job gives the employee a sense of self-worth and dignity. It can transform an entire family (and community!) and push people to become their best selves. Abe's is nowhere near where I want it to be from an economic perspective, but I hope we can change the lives of every person we hire for the better. I am incredibly excited to partner with a New York-based kitchen that employs people with disabilities. It is in this kitchen that we will produce our Hummus for All of Us products. From start to finish, I hope each of Abe's products may be locally sourced and produced. We made this commitment with our Interfaith Meat, and we will continue to do so with every product after.
While some see applying a triple bottom line approach to their business as distracting from their bottom line, we believe it is necessary in today's world. Not only are we doing the right thing by helping the environment, the economy, and our consumers, but we are also helping to build real value that can impact generations to come. That is worth working towards.
Abe's Eats Founder