Horst Rechelbacher (not to be confused with the popcorn guy!) is a leading voice in sustainable and ethical business management… In 1978, he founded Aveda with the goal of providing beauty industry professionals with high performance, botanically based products that benefit providers, guests, and the planet.  Under the guidance of Rechelbacher, Aveda has become a tremendous success, with products currently available in 7,000 salons across 24 countries worldwide.

Horst has brought a transcendental approach towards business management and lives his life in accordance with the principles he preaches… it is said that he meditates up to 7 hours a day!  His holistic philosophy is a refreshing anecdote from traditional business leaders who focus more on trends and tricks of the trade and less on WHY we should care to change… you know, the whole give a man a fish / teach a man to fish thing.

I recently read Rechelbacher’s book Minding Your Business: Profits That Restore the Planet and really connected with the foundation that was laid for environmental stewardship.  The last several pages contained a Sustainable To-Do List that should energize individuals to dig a little deeper… after all, it takes a sustainable self to create a sustainable world… here are some of my favorites from that list (grab a pencil, these are worth remembering!):

  1. Wake up and embrace our interdependence with all living things.
  2. Visualize our goals and pursue them with positive discipline.
  3. Recognize the opportunity in every crisis, and turn every crisis into an opportunity.
  4. Be a dedicated apprentice to great teachers and to life itself.
  5. Ask ourselves: How can we serve, nurture and sustain the planet and its people in our business ventures and our lifestyle choices?
  6. Educate ourselves through study and direct experience about the realities of our planetary crisis.
  7. Serve selflessly and joyfully, seeing our customers as ourselves.
  8. Purchase wisely, knowing that every dollar we spend is a vote cast for or against a sustainable future.
  9. Learn to work and communicate as part of a dynamic team.
  10. Let our gifts and knowledge outlive us by teaching and mentoring others.
  11. Create healthy, ethical, creative, holistic business and home environments.
  12. Make a business opportunity of the environmental crisis by designing innovative, sustainable products and solutions.
  13. Rejuvenate and reinvent ourselves daily through creative evolution.

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And here’s an excerpt from Minding Your Business I really enjoy:

Sustainability is not an eco–Band-Aid, a luxury for affluent Westerners, or pie-in-the-sky idealism. It is the necessary lifeblood of a new era of enlightened capitalism on which our collective future may depend. Sustainability is also the defining fabric and intelligent design of nature in all its glorious, self-sustaining, ever-replenishing interdependence. To achieve sustainable success, business must capitalize on the greatest opportunities of our time, which also happen to be the greatest crises of our time. By meeting the greatest needs of the greatest number, and by providing innovative and ethical solutions to the countless crises we now face in every niche of our world system, business will reinvent itself while helping to heal the earth.

Rechelbacher sold Aveda to Estee Lauder in 1997 for a cool $300 million… he has since kept himself busy by opening up a new passion project, Intelligent Nutrients.  This endeavor takes green to the next level, with a line of cosmetic products that are made from organic ingredients grown on Horst’s own farm in Wisconsin!  Employees of this farm ride electric bicycles to get around, and Rechelbacher himself rolls in a different set of electric wheels… a Tesla Roadster!  Damn, I gots me some green envy!

-j

About Joshua Foss


Joshua is a leading voice for transformational change. He is the editor of Metro Hippie, co-founder and director of development of the Ecala Group, and adjunct faculty at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He is also an ambassador for the Living Building Challenge and is a frequent speaker at national conferences, trade shows and summits.