Interior Secretary Nominee Sally Jewel’s Sustainability Leadership with REI

Written by Owain Jones, MBA in Sustainability student at University of Saint Francis As sustainability and having a conscious effort to protect the environment have become more important, government has shifted to attempt to adopt good environmental policies. A very important government sector to this is the Department of the Interior. Since the new government has taken office there must be someone to take the head of this department as the Interior Secretary. This position is very important for sustainability and environmental consciousness because of how much land the department manages. President Obama has the position to elect such a person to head the Department of the Interior as the Interior Secretary and the person that has been named is Sally Jewell. She is currently the CEO of Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), a popular outdoors company that is based out of the Pacific Northwest. Jewel also has experience in the oil sector, working for Mobil and Exxon in the past, giving her a very well rounded experience in the important things that the Interior Secretary would deal with. Currently, Jewell’s work at REI has been a highlight in sustainability, making her a standout for President Obama. She has driven REI to implement sustainability on  Continue Reading »

The Waste Management Phoenix Open Steps up Sustainability

Written by Owain Jones, MBA in Sustainability student at University of Saint Francis Being a huge golf fan I usually tune in to watch the professional tournaments every weekend. This past weekend of January 31 to February 3 was no different with the Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Arizona being held. However, the difference is in the company sponsoring the tournament, Waste Management, Inc. The tournament is one of the largest attended tournaments of the year, bringing up to half a million spectators in the week long activities. It also produces a one-of-a-kind golf atmosphere with the stadium 16th hole, a huge attraction for these spectators. With all day events every day, the attendees need to purchase food, drinks, and possibly souvenirs. This produces an enormous amount of trash that would usually be thrown in garbage bins and sent to the landfill. Since Waste Management (WM) sponsors the Phoenix Open, you think they would have a real easy job to get all that trash to the landfill by getting their own trucks to pick it all up. Now we get into why this topic relates to sustainability. WM has taken the pledge to make this event a zero waste event, providing the closest to a  Continue Reading »

Sustainability: A Brief History

Written by Owain Jones, MBA in Sustainability student at University of Saint Francis   It is no secret that in the days of resource abundance and industrial domination, the environment was on the receiving end of much abuse and destruction. As populations grow and resource demand increases, sustainable development becomes more and more important. Turning a blind eye to sustainable development means that all the efforts to restore the environment and lessen the human impact on it would be for not. Businesses are very important to sustainable development because they have the ability to provide sustainable services and products to people, instead of the environment-harming ones of the yesteryears. However, it is important to understand how exactly we are at this point in time where sustainable business is so vital, instead of simply focusing on the fact that through the years the environment was harmed and resources were overused.   Ancient cultures, like the aboriginals of North and South America, the Chinese and the Egyptians, were maintained for thousands of years with primitive tools and ideals. This was possible through the ideals of sustainability that our current cultures are still attempting to implement. The ancients knew the main sources of life needed to be  Continue Reading »

Carbon Neutrality

Written by Owain Jones, MBA in Sustainability student at University of Saint Francis   Let’s face it, becoming completely carbon emission free as a business can be very hard and especially so when your business involves transportation. However, if your business must put carbon emissions in the air, as even hybrid vehicles do, sustainability can be achieved through something called carbon neutrality. So, what does this mean? Becoming carbon neutral means that for every carbon emission produced there is a reduction of carbon emissions of an equal amount. Thus, neutrality is achieved through net carbon emissions of zero. This step is what can take a business from being environmentally conscious to sustainable. Even though it is not a perfect sustainability, it is a solution for a time in which fossil fuels are still readily used, cheap, and where there are cases wherein carbon emissions cannot be feasibly taken to zero. The goal is to use carbon neutrality as a stepping stone to having a completely sustainable business operation. The first step in becoming carbon neutral is a measurement of the business carbon footprint for a set amount of time. For example, the amount of emissions from the company cars, vans, busses, trucks, or  Continue Reading »

Going Landfill-Free

Written by Owain Jones, MBA in Sustainability student at University of Saint Francis An important part to becoming sustainable as a business, and as an extension a society, is dealing with the mounds of trash that is accumulated and then sent off to be dumped into landfills. According to the EPA, Americans generated 250 million tons of trash in 2010. This works out to over half a million tons every single day and 4.43 pound per person per day. Only 85 million tons of this was composted or recycled, coming out to be a 34.1% recycling rate. Even though this seems to be a low figure, it has steadily increased since mid-1990. As a business, the waste generated in offices can consist of material that is easily recyclable, like paper and plastic. However, waste material generated in the manufacturing process of a business can create a recycling challenge. The big American car manufacturer that you may have heard of, General Motors, has taken this recycling initiative head on to create a sustainable manufacturing process. As of June 2012, GM added its 100th landfill-free facility in Lansing, Michigan. The landfill-free designation literally means that the facility does not put one item  Continue Reading »

How to Sell Going Green to Your Boss

Sometimes great changes within organizations begin with the ideas of employees.  After all, they are the eyes and ears of the company and commonly see the need for change well before symptoms are noticeable to management.  This is often the case when it comes to sustainability initiatives.  When pitching your idea of going green to your boss, it is important to present a professional, deliberate, and well-rounded proposal.  These guidelines offer a map for formulating your message. Align with your company’s mission/strategies/goals.  A sustainability plan should always be a part of the organization’s strategic plan, not separate from it.  Otherwise, the two plans may end up working at cross purposes and undermine the integrity of each other.  True sustainability comes when the company implements sustainable practices throughout, and not as a special project or initiative.  Show your boss that integrating sustainability strengthens the company’s existing strategy. Align with your boss’s main interests.  Of course profit is always a main interest to those in charge.  But smart leaders understand that numbers alone do not equal long term success.  What is your boss concerned with currently.  Increasing efficiency?  Streamlining processes?  Customer loyalty?  Employee morale?  Find out what has his/her attention and explain  Continue Reading »

Employee Engagement Toolbox

Employee engagement is crucial to the success of your sustainability plan – and can be one of the biggest challenges.  This mindmap illustrates effective approaches to getting employees engaged and can really be applied to any initiative within your company.

Green Your Boardroom

Your boardroom is likely a place of focused discussions, strategic decision making, heated debates, and hopefully lighthearted conversations.  The room probably sees much productivity and progress being made for your company.  But how much waste is generated there?  Here are a few things you can do TODAY to make your boardroom a little greener. Ditch disposables:  Opt for ceramic coffee mugs, permanent-ware plates and utensils, maybe even cloth napkins.  Invest in an insulated, sealable (for easy travel) coffee carafe instead of using those strange cardboard coffee-boxes. Go paperless:  Use your overhead projector (most boardrooms have them nowadays) to display the agenda and other materials that you’d like your meeting attendees to view, but will most likely get tossed after the meeting is over. Go au naturel:  If you have access to daylight – take advantage of it!  Use window shades during presentations, but otherwise let the light shine in and keep the switches in the off position. Find a comfortable compromise:  The CEO may like the boardroom to feel like a meat locker, but is that really a good use of energy?  Every individual has a different “ideal” room temperature and not everyone is going to be completely satisfied.  Find  Continue Reading »

Local Focus: Northeast Indiana Sustainable Business Council

The Northeast Indiana Sustainable Business Council (NISBC) is a non-profit organization for businesses interested in a sustainable future.  They help their members on their sustainability journey by offering training, round table programs, and special events aimed at educating local businesses.  Additionally, they offer a prescriptive plan called the Bright Green Business Program that certifies businesses.  This program began as the City of Fort Wayne’s Green City Business Program and focuses on the areas of pollution prevention, solid waste reduction, energy conservation, water conservation, community outreach, and employee wellness.  The NISBC’s program implements a mentorship system where the business pursuing certification is mentored by another member business who offers guidance and advice in applying sustainable practices.  The organization serves 10 counties:  Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells, and Whitley.  They offer one-on-one training to members beginning their Bright Green Business checklist. Membership dues range from $30 to $2,500+ annually, with varying levels of benefits. Watch this video featuring NISBC Executive Director, Kerri Przemielewski to learn more.

Setting Sustainability Goals

‘Tis the season for setting goals – and setting sustainability goals should be part of your organization’s annual strategic planning.  Goals are the heart of a sustainability plan and must be more than mere boxes to check if the plan is to be successful.  The best sustainability goals are motivating and inspire innovation.  When sustainability goals are viewed as just another initiative to be managed, they eventually smolder on the back burner and can do more harm than having no goals in the first place.  Therefore, it is crucial that your sustainability goals be sensible, intentional, and purposeful. In order for sustainability goals to be most effectively achieved, they must be goals that employees can get behind.  Therefore, it is critical that top-level management (especially the CEO), be visibly supportive of the goals and the work required to achieve them.  Employee engagement is critical as well.  Goals set with employee input can be the most robust because employees on the frontlines of operations often see the greatest sources of waste and inefficiencies.  Furthermore, when employees have a hand in setting goals, they have a sense of ownership and purpose associated with the goals and are more motivated to achieve them.   Continue Reading »