Ask anyone who lives within a major metropolitan area to pick their favorite food truck cuisine and you’ll get answers that vary from Kobe beef sliders to Korean BBQ tacos. The recent surge in food truck popularity – thanks in part to Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race as well as a greater interest in reasonably priced culinary creations – has led to scores of artistically painted trucks patrolling city centers in search of hungry office workers and curious pedestrians. But what effect has the food truck phenomenon had on in promoting eco-friendly business models and renewable energy usage? Surprisingly quite a bit, as the following list describes 3 ways food trucks encourage sustainable business models.

1. Less energy consumption – When looking at the amount of energy required to run a traditional sit-down restaurant, the overall net energy expenditure is staggering. From the power used to light the business, the air conditioning and/or heating, hot lamps, stovetops, and dishwashers; the underlying business model of restaurants promotes wasteful energy usage. Unlike restaurants, food trucks encourage sustainable business models by their almost negligible use of fossil fuels required to move them from one location to another, which can be further reduced by their ability to convert to biodiesel, making them even more environmentally responsible.

2. Locally sourced produce – Another way that food trucks encourage sustainable business models is through their efforts in using locally grown fruits and vegetables in their recipes. The amount of energy needed for both the air and ground transport of fruits and vegetable grown out of season is huge, and serves as an enabler of continued energy dependence and fossil fuel waste. By using local growers, co-ops, and farmers, food trucks are able to promote the farm to fork business model of delicious seasonal produce.

3. Low start-up costs – The extremely high costs associated with operating, staffing, and running a restaurant is often prohibitive to local entrepreneurship and economic opportunity. Not surprisingly, food trucks encourage sustainable business models by enabling a wider cross section of the community the opportunity to own and operate their own food truck, which can serve as a form of poverty reduction for many families. And by opening up the market for increased local investment and small business owners, many communities can benefit greatly from the eco-friendly food truck business model.

Food truck business could become a sustainable model in developing countries whose local cuisines can be utilized to create income without incurring the high establishment costs required for restaurants.

Brian Turner

Source: Mother Nature Network
Photo: Daily Northwestern

Since 1945 the United Nations has established the contemporary global, obligation to address the economic and social well-being of ordinary citizens. A very new concept when written into their charter: “The United Nations shall promote higher standards of living, full employment, and conditions of progress and development in the economic and social order.”

Over time, for at least economists and policy makers, this development agenda has become synonymous with “improving economic opportunities through increased production of goods and services.” The implicit assumption is that economic growth will increase quality of life standards, life expectancy, improve nutrition and health.

Since 1945, there have been impressive advancements in the elimination of extreme poverty, but still many professionals wonder how to accelerate growth even more throughout the world – particularly in Africa and South Asia, two regions with a great number of poor. The issue has prompted economists and policymakers to analyze the importance of several factors, policies and institutions, finding six factors for successful development:

1. Social inclusion – With a healthier and more educated population, nations can enjoy a more effective economic and political life. Illiteracy is a major barrier to participation in the economy. Without widespread education, citizens are more easily manipulated by un-just governments – allowing for the empowerment of counter-productive leadership.
2. Quality management – Governments must manage their national macro-economic environment; if there is no over-arching/holistic governance, the nation loses its credibility both in private sector business, and the citizenry. The “political capital” of a country cannot be wasted, and moreover, if public resources and urgent needs are not continually addressed, then the country falls into a burden of “catch up” where they are always behind in development, comparatively.
3. Transparency and accountability – Transparency is essential to prevent corruption and financial fraud, and promotes citizen participation. Experience shows that trust in one’s government encourages citizens and businesses to pay their taxes, thus advancing development and social services. Companies invest and expand more, creating greater confidence in the government and a “virtuous circle” of development ensues.
 4. Technology and innovation – Economic production is no longer just about capital and labor, now knowledge and innovation are just as important. It has been proven that technology gaps can explain the disparity in productivity between different countries. Technological adoption, knowledge dissemination and information communication technology (ICT) are imperative for national competitiveness.
5. Economic opportunities – Increasing the access and use economic resources to citizens is imperative. Free and open access to markets can contribute significantly to development; access to goods, labor and financial markets for personal use, production and exchange; especially the promotion of small-businesses.
6. Administrative Infrastructure – Business and society often come down to bureaucratic needs:  issuance of licenses, permits, birth certificate, passport, filing taxes, starting a business, registering a title, property rights, contract settlements, foreign trade authorization, hiring an employee, use the public health services, etc. The efficiency of bureaucracy is pertinent to advancing greater and more equal access to public resources.
 – Mary Purcell

Source: ITC

5 Reasons Why Social Responsibility Matters in BusinessBusinesses and economic systems are bending under the expectations and obligations to be socially responsible. On a global level, governments and private corporations must be more and more accountable for their impact on the environment, and for who they help or hurt.

Here are 5 reasons why social responsibility matters in business:

1. Consumers Look For Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

  • More than 88% of consumers think companies should try to achieve their business goals while improving society and the environment
  • 83% of consumers think companies should support charities and nonprofits with financial donations

2. Employees Look For and Perform Better for Socially Responsible Businesses

  • 32% of employees would seriously consider leaving their job if their company gave no/little money to charity
  • 65% would seriously consider leaving their job if their company harmed the environment
  • 83% would seriously consider leaving their job if their employer used child labor in sweatshop factories
  • CSR practices are seen as important to employee morale (50%), loyalty (41%), retention (29%), recruitment of top employees (25%) and productivity (12%)

3. It is a competitive advantage (Harvard Business Review)

  • Every company needs “a unique position – doing things differently from competitors.” Philanthropic projects show a particular and distinctive identity.
  • “CSR can be much more than a cost, a constraint, or a charitable deed – it can be a source of opportunity, innovation, and competitive advantage.”

4. Capitalism focused strictly on profit is no longer viable

  • Investors will sever business ties with companies that are caught damaging the environment or engaging in socially damaging practices.
  • A fourth sector of the economy is emerging – “for-benefit.” Different from non-profit, for-profit, or governmental sectors, this is a group that operates on earned income but gives top priority to an explicit social mission over profit for the sake of profit.

5. It is a moral obligation

  • Domestically – businesses need to give back to the communities and nations that provided them the opportunity to succeed
  • Globally – economic and security concerns/events can immediately have a negative global impact. Investing, developing, and doing-no-harm will strengthen all sectors of business.

– Mary Purcell