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Thomas Schueneman headshot

Green Champions Counter the Pessimists of the World


This article was commissioned by Rolland and went through the normal TriplePundit editorial review process. 

“It’ll never work!”

From the doleful musing of a gloomy donkey in a children’s story to a cultural meme, “it’ll never work” is quintessential shorthand for unyielding pessimism. Everything is all wrong and any attempt to fix it will fail, so why try?

Want to reduce your global footprint?

It’ll never work!

Think you can run, work for, or support a business committed to sustainability?

It’ll never work!

You get the picture.

Not only will it work, it is working. For companies of all shapes and sizes.

The Eeyores of the world would have us believe that “sustainable business” is an oxymoron. Worse, some cynically give a public face to “being green” with no real intent or interest in changing their non-green ways.

In the blog series Conversation with Green Champions, Rolland president Philip Rundle chats with colleagues and customers, all leaders committed to sustainability within their respective organizations.

There will always be some unable to let go of their cynicism. Rundle’s conversations help clarify the counter-narrative. The cultural scales lean far too heavily toward business-as-usual, but the weight continues to shift.

Conversations with Green Champions about pushing the trend forward.

For anybody doing anything, it starts by showing up.

You’ve gotta wanna

Many years ago I started a challenging new job. I remember best one bit of sage advice I received during my training: “the hardest part is showing up.”

Not an original thought, but one that has stuck with me since. Probably because of its essential verity. Every difficult or challenging situation I’ve ever faced was made better just by showing up. Getting on with it.

From there, of course, the real work begins. But owning up to the situation and doing what must be done to get started is the key to progress. Failing that, nothing changes, at least not for the better.

For sustainability "newcomers" serious about change, Conversations with Green Champions shows how others showed up to their particular challenge and why it matters.


Rundle manages one the most sustainably-run manufacturers of high-quality recycled and environmental papers. Rolland's evolution mirrors that of many other first-adopters of sustainability as an element of their mission statement.

Rolland first introduced recycled paper in 1989. In 2004, the company implemented energy generation from local biogas, used to run their factory. Rolland has conducted two full LCA assessments. One in 2014 and again in 2016. They published the full results on their website.

Patagonia doesn’t buy their paper from just anyone. Rolland is a go-to supplier for like-minded businesses.

Changemakers among us

Hardly an exhaustive list, these two examples hint at the breadth and depth of the multi-sector march underway toward a better way of doing business. Hopefully, we'll whet your appetite for more:


It's no surprise that Patagonia is on the list. The venerable sustainable business leader, Patagonia's core reason for being is enabling a connection with the natural world.

In Conversations with Green Champions, Chief Environmental Responsibility Manager Paul Hendricks talks about the importance of the B Corp movement. Founder Yvon Chouinard built the company so that every employee, no matter what role they play within the organization, considers environmental and social issues as a core tenet of their job.

As for Rose Marcario, Hendricks says, not only is she Patagonia's CEO, but also its CEA - "chief executive activist."

Cirque du Soleil

Starting in 1984 as a troupe of 20 street performers, Montreal-based Cirque du Soleil currently stages 20 theatrical productions every year across the globe. Cirque now employs nearly 4,000 employees, including 1.300 artists from more than 50 different countries.

Since its earliest days, Cirque's mission has been focused on people: "to invoke the imagination, to provoke the senses and to evoke the emotions of people around the world." A mission statement encompassing imagination and positive emotion leads naturally to the triple bottom line.

"It's in our DNA," Jean-François Michaud, Senior Advisor for Corporate Social Responsibility, told Rundle in Green Champions.

Their yellow and blue big tops have evolved to gray and white. The more reflective colors reduce energy consumption.

Harvested rainwater flushes the toilets in the  Montreal headquarters, which has a BOMA BESt Level 3 certification, and waters the grounds.

Suppliers, including Rolland Paper, are vetted through Cirque's Responsible Procurement Policy. "Rolland’s product is quite exceptional in environmental terms," says Michaud in his interview with Rundle.

Cirque's philosophy is that art not only inspires delight and wonder but reveals a path for changemakers of all types.

A community united by passion

We have befuddled our many global challenges, the argument goes, not from lack of a solution, but from lack of will to truly change. Where there is a will, there is a way. No will? No way.

Any significant change eventually must coalesce around a cohesive and authentic narrative. And nothing worthwhile emerges fully formed. The individual effort and circumstance of each participant bring to the table the “working capital” of change: knowledge, experience, support, and passion.

There are and always will be Eeyores in this world. Those that only offer cynicism and misery. As Robert Kennedy once said:

"Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator and change has its enemies."

True enough. As is the inevitability of change.

We can choose to listen to - or be - the gloomy donkeys or the green champions.


Thomas Schueneman headshot

Tom is the founder, editor, and publisher of GlobalWarmingisReal.com and the TDS Environmental Media Network. He has been a contributor for Triple Pundit since 2007. Tom has also written for Slate, Earth911, the Pepsico Foundation, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, and many other sustainability-focused publications. He is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists

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