John Elkington

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For the British general, see John Elkington (British Army officer). For the British fighter pilot, see John Elkington (pilot).
John Elkington
John Elkington 06.JPG
Born John Brett Elkington
(1949-06-23) 23 June 1949 (age 66)
Padworth, United Kingdom
Residence London, United Kingdom
Citizenship British

Social entrepreneurship

Institutions Volans
Alma mater University College London
Known for Triple Bottom Line
Notable awards 2011 Spencer Hutchens, Jr. Medal by the American Society for Quality (ASQ)

John Elkington is a world authority on corporate responsibility and sustainable development. He is currently the Founding Partner and Executive Chairman of Volans,[1] a future-focused business working at the intersection of the sustainability, entrepreneurship and innovation movements. He is also co-founder of SustainAbility[2] (1987, where he is a non-executive member of the Board) and of Environmental Data Services (ENDS, 1978).

John is a Fast Company blogger and a columnist for a number of publications, including chinadialogue (China), CSR Wire (USA), Director Magazine (UK), Monday Morning (Denmark) and Nikkei Ecology (Japan) as well as other media. John also writes a weekly column for the Guardian Sustainable Business website.


John Elkington has been described by Business Week as "a dean of the corporate responsibility movement for three decades." His first involvement in the field: raising money for the newly formed World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in 1961, aged 11. In 1987 he founded SustainAbility, a think tank and consultancy that works with businesses through markets in the pursuit of economic, social and environmental sustainability. He originated the term "Triple Bottom Line".[3] In 2009, a CSR International survey of the Top 100 CSR leaders placed John fourth: after Al Gore, Barack Obama and the late Anita Roddick of the Body Shop, and alongside Muhammad Yunus of the Grameen Bank.

His Who's Who entry lists his recreations as: “playing with ideas, thinking around corners, conversations with unreasonable people, reading an Alpine range of books (history to science fiction) and US business and science magazines, risking life and limb as a London cyclist, catch-it-as-you-can photography, art and design, writing all hours, pre-1944 aircraft, New World wines, 20th century popular music–and Johann Strauss II.”

He has written or co-authored 17 books, including 1988’s million-selling Green Consumer Guide, 1997’s Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business, the book which brought his triple bottom line concept and agenda to a wider audience, and 2008’s The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World, co-authored with Volans co-founder Pamela Hartigan.

Elkington also appears in the movie adaptation of The Illustrated Mum, as the librarian called Mr Harrison.


Selected publications:

  • The Power of Unreasonable People: How Social Entrepreneurs Create Markets That Change the World by John Elkington, Pamela Hartigan (Authors), Klaus Schwab (Foreword), (2008)
  • Making Sustainability Work: Best Practices in Managing and Measuring Corporate Social, Environmental and Economic Impacts by Marc J Epstein (Author), John Elkington (Foreword), Herman B Leonard (Foreword), (2008)
  • The Sustainability Advantage: Seven Business Case Benefits of a Triple Bottom Line by Bob Willard (Author), John Elkington (Foreword), (2002)
  • The Chrysalis Economy: How Citizen CEOs and Corporations Can Fuse Values and Value Creation (2001)
  • Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business (1998)
  • The Ecology of Tomorrow's World (Hardcover, 1980)
  • The Green Capitalists: Industry's Search for Environmental Excellence by John Elkington with Tom Burke (1987)
  • The Green Consumer: Revised Edition (A Tilden Press Book) by Joel Makower, John Elkington, and Julia Hailes (Paperback, 1993)
  • The Gene Factory (Hardcover, 1985)
  • The Green Business Guide by John Elkington and Peter Knight (1991)
  • Green Pages by John Elkington, Tom Burke, and Julia Hailes (Paperback, 1988)
  • The Young Green Consumer's Guide by John Elkington, Julia Hailes, Douglas Hill, and Tony Ross (Paperback, 1990)
  • Thailand: Natural Resources Profile (Natural Resources of South-East Asia) by Anat Arbhabhirama, Dhira Phantumvanit, and John Elkington (Hardcover, 1988)
  • The Green Consumer's Guide: From Shampoo to Champagne: High-Street Shopping for a Better Environment by John Elkington & Julia Hailes (Hardcover, 1989)
  • The Natural House Book by David Pearson and John Elkington (Paperback, 1992)
  • Manual 2000 by John Elkington and Julia Hailes (Paperback, 1998)
  • Bio-Japan: The emerging Japanese challenge in biotechnology (Paperback, 1985)
  • Sun Traps: The Renewable Energy Forecast (Pelican), (Paperback, 1984)
  • A Year in the Greenhouse (Hardcover, 1991)
  • Cleaning Up: US Waste Management Technology and Third World Development (World Resources Institute Papers,) by John Elkington and Jonathan Shopley (Paperback, 1989)
  • The Gene Factory: Inside the Genetic and Biotechnology Business Revolution (Hardcover, 1985)
  • The Green Consumer Supermarket Shopping Guide by Joel Makower, John Elkington, and Julia Hailes (Paperback, 1991)
  • Holidays That Don't Cost the Earth by John Elkington and Julia Hailes (Paperback, 1992)
  • The Poisoned Womb: Human Reproduction in a Polluted World (1987)
  • The Shrinking Planet: US Information Technology and Sustainable Development (Wri Paper, No 3) by John Elkington and Jonathan Shopley (1988)
  • Double Dividends? US Biotechnology and Third World Development (Wri Paper, No 2)" (Paperback, Nov 1986)


  • Member of the Recyclebank Sustainability Advisory Council[4]
  • Strategic Advisor to 2degrees, Bayer MaterialScience, Gaia Energy, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Instituto Ethos, Nestlé's Creating Shared Value, One Earth Innovation, Polecat UK and a Cleantech Fund developed by zouk Ventures.
  • Senior Advisor to the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
  • Member of the WWF Council of Ambassadors
  • Member of the Evian Group Brain Trust
  • Newsweek Green Rankings Advisory Board


  • 2008 Social Capitalist Award, Fast Company[5]
  • 1989, UN Global 500 Roll of Honour for "outstanding environmental achievements"[6]



  1. ^ "Volans". Volans. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  2. ^ "Independent think tank and strategy consultancy". SustainAbility. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  3. ^ Cannibals with Forks: The Triple Bottom Line of 21st Century Business, 1999
  4. ^ Green Biz:Recyclebank Creates Advisory Council to Guide Sustainability Goals
  5. ^ "The 2008 Social Capitalist Awards". Fast Company. 7 February 2008. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  6. ^ "Global 500 Environmental Forum". Retrieved 31 May 2013. 

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