Story posted January 16, 2008
Environmental activist and businessperson Gary Hirshberg P'10 calls on individuals to realize their power to effect change in the marketplace — "the power of one" — while proving that environmental commitment makes for a healthier planet and a healthier bottom line.
Hirshberg, president and "CE-Yo" of Stonyfield Farm, Inc. — the world's largest organic yogurt company — will discuss how business can both save the planet and deliver higher growth and superior profits in a lecture to be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, January 24, 2008, in Kresge Auditorium, Visual Arts Center.
Hirshberg's lecture, titled "Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World," draws from his new book of the same name, which outlines how consumers and businesses can be forces for positive and tangible change.
Hirshberg's formal academic training in climate change in the 1970s launched his career as an environmental activist until he realized that he could be more effective as a businessperson. He draws from his 25 years' experience growing Stonyfield Farm from a seven-cow start-up to its current $300 million in annual sales, as well as the examples of like-minded companies such as Newman's Own.
The growth of Stonyfield has been built with innovative marketing techniques that often combine the social, environmental, and financial missions of the company. One of the company's five missions is "to serve as a model that environmentally and socially responsible businesses can also be profitable" and Hirshberg has realized this vision in every aspect of the company.
In the early days of Stonyfield, Hirshberg wore many hats, from yogurt-maker to bookkeeper. He served as director of the Rural Education Center, the small organic farming school from which Stonyfield grew. Before that, he was executive director of The New Alchemy Institute, an ecological institute devoted to organic agriculture, aquaculture and renewable energy systems.
He was also the founding president of the Cape Cod Environmental Coalition and the founding chairman of the Cape and Islands Self-Reliance Corporation. Earlier in his career, he was a water-pumping windmill specialist, an author, an environmental education specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and a manager of environmental tours to the People's Republic of China.
He serves on several corporate and non-profit boards, including Honest Tea, Sambazon, Inc., and Peak Organic Brewing, and as the chairman/cofounder of O'Naturals, a chain of organic and natural fast food restaurants.
He has won numerous awards for corporate and environmental leadership, including the 1999 Global Green USA's Green Cross Millennium Award (inspired by Mikhail S. Gorbachev) for Corporate Environmental Leadership.
Copies of Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World will be available for purchase at the event and at the Bowdoin Bookstore. Hirshberg will hold a book signing after his lecture.
Actor, producer, director and environmentalist Robert Redford says: "Gary Hirshberg dared to dream new ways of doing business based on respect for customers, employees, and the earth. And, it worked. If you buy or sell anything, or simply want to feel hopeful about the future, this lively and legitimately optimistic book is worth every minute."
Admission to the lecture is free. For more information call 725-3257.