Sustainability — A State of Mind

hby Keith Winn

Traditionally, at the start of a new year, resolutions are tossed about promising exercise or eating habit modifications. There’s nothing wrong with these, but honestly, how many are forgotten by January 3rd? This year, why not make a resolution that’s truly achievable, and can also benefit yourself, your community and the planet?

My New Year’s resolution is to engage in a variety of sustainable practices throughout the year.
Ok, so what does that mean? Sure, I’ll recycle what I can, compost foodstuffs and work to save energy, paper and other resources, but is that really what the resolution is aiming to achieve? Sustainability is about more than just saving energy or recycling; it’s a state of mind. Now before you run off thinking this writer is off his rocker, take a moment to think about that claim. As a company, our efforts to help businesses become more sustainable encompass office conservation practices, yes, but it also envelops a comprehensive strategy including business development, marketing, hiring and nearly every other department within the enterprise. Only by incorporating a “triple bottom line” (People, Planet, Profit) mindset into the core decisions of a company can they aim to become truly sustainable members of society.

How can this concept be transposed into a New Year’s resolution? Simply engage in the same activities you’re used to (at home, in the office, out with friends, namely, wherever you may be), only now consider how each affects society (both as individuals and a group), financial stability (locally and abroad) and the environment.

Remember the phrase, “You can have it good, fast or cheap, but you can only pick two”? Well, the triple bottom line seeks to provide all three of its pillars simultaneously. While good, fast and cheap are traditionally difficult to combine, sustainable approaches benefiting society, the financial well-being of all producers/sellers, and the environment from production site to sales location are achievable.

Consider a company’s sustainability policies when making a purchase: Do they support fair wages and social programs throughout the production chain? Are their environmental impacts documented and in the process of being minimized? Does their profit in one location damage the community in another? Questions along this line can give consumers a strong idea of how a company views true sustainability.

Along with a quality product/service, a company with a strong commitment towards sustainability is likely to thrive.

For the New Year, take these ideas to heart, spread them to your friends and family, and help create a world where the principles of sustainability are automatically considered in all aspects of life. Now that’s a New Year’s resolution worth keeping. Sure beats that exercise machine you (be honest) won’t use again!

At least until January 2nd, 2014…

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