How do we make the world work for 100 percent of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological damage or disadvantage to anyone? This is a question Buckminster Fuller posed to the world in 1983. And it’s a question that has not yet been answered nearly 30 years later. The solution I present is one of partnership, collaboration and open architecture. We are only going to approach our end goal if we all work together; meaning, the competitive nature of sustainability does not always serve the greater good. We need thought leaders who are willing to open their good work beyond their corporation’s walls to that of their industry.
This blog is about corporate leaders (big and small) in the environmental movement, and Ted’s Montana Grill is a clear example. Ted’s was first opened in 2002 by Ted Turner and veteran restaurateur George McKerrow. And perhaps given that this restaurant chain boasts a namesake synonymous with environmental stewardship, we should not be surprised to learn that Ted’s Montana Grill leads the way in its sustainable practices across its 50 national restaurants as well as the hospitality industry.
I could list dozens of “green” practices at Ted’s (low voltage lighting and CFL light-bulbs, corn polymer “to go” cups and containers, water efficient toilets, solar panels, used cooking oil that fuels the biodiesel fleet), but you can visit the company website to learn about all of that. http://www.tedsmontanagrill.com/eco.html
Where I find this company to have even greater impact is under the direction of its president and CEO, George McKerrow. I am honored to know George personally and he continues to grow and expand my business and environmental awareness whenever I am with him.
When I first went to Ted’s several years ago, I learned that much of the Bison comes from Ted Turner’s property in Montana where it is free range and grass fed. In recent times, we are all learning about the poor environmental impact of the meat industry, whether it’s the negative impacts of methane, modified corn feed, or the transportation. I may be opening myself to criticism, but I believe that the sustainable movement happens when we don’t make drastic life or behavioral changes, but when we embrace new ways to accomplish the same end goals with less impact on the planet, our health and a sustained or increase level of financial success. Ted’s understands this, offering their customers with a product they want in a sustainable delivery. Not to mention, their efforts are actually saving the American Bison by increasing demand.
Where Ted’s distinguishes itself is by opening its best practices up to their competitors. During the past year, George and Ted embarked on a five-city tour to present to restaurant associations and other hospitality industry leadership to discuss their company’s environmental practices. During their presentations, they spoke to local restaurateurs, caterers, though leaders, etc… about ways the industry can come together to do better for the environment. They also met with hospitality and culinary students in each city to talk and brainstorm about ways these future industry leaders can have a more positive impact on the planet. Another way Ted’s have reached a wider audience is by producing and posting the “Green Restaurant Revolution” podcasts on both their website and on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-nqMcw8YfiI
Turner has also put his foundation dollars behind significant grants to the National Restaurant Association to build stronger education programs about conservation. The most noticeable result of these grants is a new website called www.conserve.restaurant.org which shares conservation practices and information with the industry.
Too often we see sustainability used as a competitive advantage within corporations. Until we all join together to solve issues we are cannibalizing our greater good. Industries must come together on green practices and share best of breed operations with one another in order to tackle our major issues of today with the urgency and innovation needed. Ted Turner and George McKerrow could have kept many of their internal or back-end practices secret, forcing competitors to send in moles to learn about what goes on behind the curtain (or in this case, the kitchen). Eventually, other restaurants would have implemented similar or other green practices, and Ted’s would no longer have that competitive advantage; their story would end. Instead, these men truly understand that the planet and the preservation of the human race is the greater need here and we must all join together in our efforts. Now Ted’s enjoys being an industry leader, takes pride in knowing that their efforts will be shifting the way restaurants, bars and eventually hotels operate in a more sustainable tomorrow.
I encourage you all to consider the hundreds of decisions you make every week in your professional lives. And then consider how each decision is helping to retool our world. Are you part of the forward movement or are you holding your company, your industry and our world back?