When Starbucks president and CEO Kevin Johnson was asked by his 4-year-old grandson to read The Lorax together, he had no idea the tyke had picked an allegorical tale. Johnson was struck by the parallels in the Dr. Seuss book tothe story of environmental sustainability today. The next week Starbucks launched an internal initiative with a fitting code name: The Lorax Project.
CEOs like Johnson—ones who are fundamentally redefining the relationship between business and society. They’re answering the call not just to turn a profit but to prove they are doing good in the world.
“In a lot of ways our political infrastructure is not serving society as well as it needs to, and that creates an opportunity for the private sector to step up. I think, actually, businesses going forward are going to have to have a mission that goes far beyond the pursuit of profit, a mission that somehow contributes back to society in a way that creates a positive dynamic.”
- Kevin Johnson, Starbucks CEO
Starbucks was founded in 1971. (Coincidentally, The Lorax was published the same year.) The global coffeehouse chain is using its 50th anniversary next year as a milestone to make a new major commitment to the environment. As Johnson considers how to steer the company through its next 50 years, he’s clear that sustainability will be an integral component. The focus of Starbucks’ efforts will be a bold, multi-decade aspiration to be a “planet positive company.”
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Hi, I'm Walter, founder and editor of Carbon Creed: a blog and newsletter for people serious about tech and the low carbon economy.