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Sustainability: Where Do We Start?
Diane Cudworth, ISHP - Benjamin-West

  • It starts at the top.
    Many companies have advised their most successful implementation of eco-friendly practices comes from the top. 
    • If there is no support from upper management or ownership, it is not likely the rest of the group will get as involved.
  • Have a rough plan.
    • What are the initial ideas for areas of improvement?
    • How much time do you want your staff to spend on implementing the steps?
    • What steps are most important? Least important?
  • Take small bites.
    There is so much that can be done, the process can be overwhelming.  With priorities identified, it’s easier to do a little at a time.
  • Look for those who are passionate about the process.
    • Form a committee of those who will be accountable for research and implementation.  You will get the most results from those who are passionate about it.
    • Establish a manageable, consistent meeting schedule for the committee.
    • Discuss sub committees and identify committee leaders. (This is part of the small bites!)
    • Include people and support from all levels of staff.
  • Identify the desired results
    • What does each result do for the company?
    • For the clients?
    • For the staff?
  • Identify Greenwashing
    • Solicit input from various experts.
    • Consider carbon footprint, not just how products are made.
    • Consider short-term and long-term effects and investments, including maintenance and replacement time.  Example: Which has the most impact on the environment, recycling of a product or using a product that has to be washed, stored, etc. for re-use?
  • Identify costs for implementation of each idea:
    • Implementation (# of hours to pay staff)
    • Purchases (equipment, services, supplies)
    • Monitoring (# of hours to pay staff)
  • Consider legal requirements
    There are continual discussions and changes regarding laws for OSHA, emissions, recycling, etc.  What is currently required versus optional?  What about 2-10 years from now?
  • Consider the community
    • How can you help your local community?
    • How can local charities get involved and possibly provide assistance, which would also benefit the charities?
  • Consider joining forces
    • Many companies have already established worthwhile programs.  What are they doing well?  How can you do the same, or even improve upon the programs?
    • Are there laundries, waste management, office supply companies, etc. which have programs in place?
    • What are your peers and competitors doing?  Does any of it make sense for your implementation?

Caring for the environment and our people is an ongoing process.  Not every person in your group may have the same level of passion about making changes.  However, the excitement and pride can be contagious!

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