How sustainability vets align their work-life identities

August 10, 2020 by  
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How sustainability vets align their work-life identities Ellen Weinreb Mon, 08/10/2020 – 01:00 As our professional colleagues in the Sustainability Veterans group expressed their sense of overwhelm and concern around the coronavirus pandemic and Black Lives Matter, we also reflected on how it relates to our lives, and vice versa. Sustainability Veterans is a group of professionals who have had leadership roles in corporate sustainability. We are now exploring new ways to further engage and make a difference by bringing together our collective intellectual, experiential, emotional and social capital — independent from any individual company — to help the next generation of sustainability leaders achieve success. To that end, we asked our vets to offer a succinct response to this question: The sustainability profession includes an identity that extends outside the workplace as much as inside the workplace. How does that play out in your personal life, in ways good and bad, and how has that affected you?  Their answers covered stories of leadership, perspective and passion. Here’s what they had to say: Understanding what matters most: Organizations ask employees to leave their personal passions at the door and pick them up on the way home. I was very fortunate to take my love of the environment and lead sustainability. However, I quickly learned that everyone was starting from a different place. Coffee and conversations about what mattered most personally and professionally helped me understand where sustainability could be an enabler and offer an invitation to their own sustainability learning journey. — Mark Buckley is founder of One Boat Collaborative and former vice president of sustainability at Staples. Sustainability is everyone’s job : Many saw me as the corporate “queen of green,” resulting in funny, and occasionally frustrating, encounters. Funny: I’d endure good-natured teasing from coworkers (“How many trees are you killing, Jackie?”), and others would hide their single-use water bottles or apologize for other eco-indiscretions. Frustrating: Some people thought sustainability was someone else’s job. I had to consistently educate others in the company that sustainability is everyone’s job (and show up early to run large print jobs!). — Jacqueline Drumheller evolved her career in corporate environmental compliance to a role launching and spearheading Alaska Airlines’ formal sustainability program. A welcome surprise: Becoming a spokesperson for a company was a surprise part of the role of chief responsibility officer, but a welcome surprise. It introduced me to so many passionate, knowledgeable people. I learned so much from them and am eternally grateful for the opportunity. — Trisa Thompson is a lawyer and former Dell Technologies’ chief responsibility officer. Walking the talk : I’m glad to have insights that should inform my behavior, but I don’t always succeed. Then I castigate myself and worry my peers are judging me. Even harder is walking the line between providing useful information and being sanctimonious when trying to educate others. I try to remember to be gentle with myself and with others! — Kathrin Winkler is former chief sustainability officer for EMC, co-founder of Sustainability Veterans and editor at large for GreenBiz. Power of individual actions: As a sustainability professional, I have observed how individual actions can lead to significant outcomes. In the workplace, I oversaw the activities of many employees who brought their passion, knowledge and energy to help build impactful social and environmental programs. I am committed in my personal life to leveraging my own individual power and encouraging those around me to make a positive difference in the world. — Cecily Joseph is the former vice president of corporate responsibility at Symantec. She serves as chair of the Net Impact board of directors and expert in residence at the Presidio Graduate School. Work on behalf of others : Sustainability professionals should expect to live public lives. As we work across competing positions and underlying social, political and economic interests, our honesty, reliability and personal behaviors become transparent and essential to the work. Our relationships are as important — or perhaps even more important — than our technical skills and knowledge. Our work is on behalf of others rather than ourselves, forging trusting relationships within and outside of our organizations. — Bart Alexander is former chief corporate responsibility officer at Molson Coors. He consults on leading sustainable change through Alexander & Associates and climate change action through Plan C Advisors. A lifetime commitment : My environmental identity was woken up in the late 1980s. I first took it into my personal life and then the workplace, which led to a complete career change. The passion moved beyond career to become a vocation, then a lifetime commitment. Along the way I got labeled the Queen of Green and Green Goddess (a Nike reference). But as Bill McDonough would say, “Negligence starts tomorrow,” so I learned to embrace it. — Sarah Severn is principal of Severn Consulting. She spent over two decades in senior sustainability roles at Nike, leading strategy, stakeholder engagement and championing systems thinking and collaborative change. Finding a balance : In my career, sustainability means looking at decisions to be made from different vantage points; how do my actions affect others, the environment and the budget. Over time, I have taken this approach with projects at home as well. Once the right balance is determined and the decision made, it is important to help people (family, friends, co-workers) understand the choice. This triple-bottom-line approach to decision making has proven to work for me. — Paul Murray , president of Integrated Sustainable Strategies, is retired vice president of sustainability at Shaw Industries. He was previously director of sustainability at Herman Miller. Communicating to non-experts: Despite spending my entire working time focused on sustainability issues and being passionate about making sustainable decisions on how I lived my personal life, I found it challenging to understand what was communicated (or not) about the sustainability value of the products I was purchasing. I used that frustration as I worked with our business units to make sure that our communications on things like our biobased polymers and fibers could be understood by people who weren’t sustainability experts. — Dawn Rittenhouse was director of sustainable development for the DuPont Company from 1998 until 2019. Permeates everything: When I go through my own checklist of what I want in my job, I have caught myself forgetting to list sustainability. It so permeates all of me, that is a given. It is the lens through which I see the world. — Ellen Weinreb is a sustainability and ESG recruiter, founder of Weinreb Group and co-founder Sustainability Veterans Contributors Kathrin Winkler Topics Leadership State of the Profession Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage / Shutterstock

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How sustainability vets align their work-life identities

Are you up for the Plastic Free July challenge?

July 1, 2020 by  
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How hard would it be to say no to single-use plastics for an entire month? People who sign up for Plastic Free July are about to find out. The global movement is asking people around the world to be part of the plastic pollution solution. Plastic Free July started back in 2011. Last year, about 250 million people from 177 countries took part in the movement. A survey about Plastic Free July found that participants reduced their household waste about 5% per year and made changes that became long-term habits. Related: How to replace single-use and plastic items in the kitchen Brought to you by the Plastic Free Foundation Rebecca Prince-Ruiz founded the Plastic Free Foundation as a not-for-profit in 2017 along with a team of committed folks in Western Australia. Now, the organization promotes Plastic Free July. The foundation’s ambassador, musician Jack Johnson, is instrumental in spreading the word. “Plastic Free July inspires me to step up my commitment to reducing single-use plastic in my daily life and on tour,” he said on the organization’s website. “A great first step is to commit to using reusable water bottles . I’m also working with the music industry (artists, venues, festivals and fans) to reduce plastic waste through the BYOBottle campaign.” The foundation’s website is its most accessible resource for people around the world. It inspires visitors with stories about ordinary people trying to escape the siren song of convenient plastic. A section called “What others do” features — and invites readers to submit — their stories about alternatives to plastics they use in their everyday life. For example, a mother of two in New Zealand has found strategies for working toward a zero-waste household, and another woman managed to talk her hospital coworkers out of using 70,000 single-use cups each year. You can download posters from the website urging people to avoid single-use straws , takeout containers, plastic bags and other pitfalls of modern life. The posters are suitable for hanging at work, school or local businesses. Ways to avoid single-use plastic People who take the Plastic Free July pledge probably figure they can do without straws for a month or more and remember to bring their reusable cloth bags to the market. But some plastic products are harder to avoid. The web page called “What you can do” provides solutions to many of these problems. For many people, menstruation seems to bring an unfair burden: cramps, moodiness and the responsibility for plastic tampon applicators and used sanitary napkins piling up in landfills or blocking sewage pipes and even causing ingestion issues for marine animals. Instead, the Plastic Free Foundation recommends using menstrual cups, period underwear or reusable pads. Worldwide, people struggle with what to do about bin liners. While putting a plastic bag in your trash can is exceedingly convenient, plastic stays in the landfill forever, eventually breaking down into microplastics that can harm animals. Instead, you can line your bin with newspaper, or let your bin go “naked” and wash it frequently. Of course, composting all your food scraps will cut down on the bin’s ickiest contents. Audit your bin Before you can improve, you need to know how bad the problem is. The Plastic Free Foundation recommends auditing your bin. Doing a bin audit will help you understand what kind of waste you’re creating and how you can minimize it. You can do a bin audit at home or in your workplace. Try to get your family or coworkers onboard to help with the audit and to implement changes based on your findings. Choose an auspicious day for the bin audit. This should be long enough after trash day so that some stuff has accumulated in your bin but not long enough for it to stink. Find a sheltered outdoor place with good airflow. Spread a tarp on the ground and dump your bin. Separate your trash into categories, such as paper , food, cans, batteries, plastics, etc. Estimate the volume and percentage of each category and write it down in a notebook. Later, after cleaning up, you can assess your findings. Some things will be obvious, like if you’ve been too lazy to carry your apple cores and potato peels to the compost and have been chucking them in the bin instead. Or maybe you’ll notice lots of food packaging and realize you could be buying more of those items in bulk instead. Focus on one or two behaviors that will be the easiest to change. Do another bin audit about six months later, check your improvement and pick a new goal. Take the plastic-free challenge Ready for a meaningful sustainability challenge? You can sign up on the Plastic Free July website. The web form asks for your name, email address, country and post code. You’ll get weekly motivational emails in your inbox with tips for avoiding plastic and news on the global movement. The form also gives you choices about the level of your participation. You can commit to going plastic-free for a day, a week, the whole month of July or indefinitely. You can also select whether you’re taking part in the challenge in your workplace, at your school or at home. + Plastic Free July Images via Laura Mitulla , Volodymyr Hryshchenko , Jasmin Sessler ( 1 , 2 ) and Good Soul Shop

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Are you up for the Plastic Free July challenge?

Gardens grow on all floors of Saint-Gobains crystalline HQ

July 1, 2020 by  
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On the outskirts of Paris, French architecture firm Valode & Pistre has completed a new headquarters — a crystalline tower wrapped in low-emission glass — for Saint-Gobain, a multinational building materials company. Designed to emphasize urban integration, energy performance and user comfort, the skyscraper features wind-sheltered gardens accessible from every floor, an abundance of natural light and stunning panoramic views. The building, known as Tour Saint-Gobain, was completed in 2019 in the business district of La Défense. Selected as the winning entry in an international architecture competition, Valode & Pistre’s design for Tour Saint-Gobain references Saint-Gobain’s leading role in construction material distribution — particularly with glass — with its crystalline architecture. The new company headquarters is divided into three distinct parts that are likened to the head, body and feet of a person: the lower floor, or “feet”, contain the open access areas and showroom; the main “body” comprises flexible office spaces; and the highest floors at the “head” houses reception areas, meeting places and the “espace plein ciel”, a stunning gathering space with panoramic views. Related: Dramatic crystalline concert hall boasts a gorgeous prismatic interior in Poland “A tower, more than any other building, is about people and how it affects them,” the architecture firm explained in a press release. “Emotions are expected to be felt at the sight of such a building and the architect should strive to bring about these feelings and this excitement. The dynamic silhouette of the building, through the assembly of three oblique prisms that, in an anthropomorphic way, resemble a head, a body and a foot, allows it to interact with the surrounding towers. The tower thus becomes a figure turning its head and slightly stooping as a sign of warm welcome.” At 165 meters tall, Tour Saint-Gobain spans 44 floors and encompasses 49,900 square meters of floor space. High-performance glass ensures optimal user comfort for occupants, who not only enjoy panoramic views but also direct access to indoor gardens from all of the office spaces. + Valode & Pistre Photography by Sergio Grazia via Valode & Pistre

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Gardens grow on all floors of Saint-Gobains crystalline HQ

5 Small Steps To Make Your Company More Sustainable

June 15, 2020 by  
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Sustainability shouldn’t be a squeeze on the bottom line — … The post 5 Small Steps To Make Your Company More Sustainable appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Earth911 Podcast: Bevi Delivers Sustainable Water Services To Reduce Plastic Waste

May 6, 2020 by  
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Bevi, an office water dispenser company, has saved more than … The post Earth911 Podcast: Bevi Delivers Sustainable Water Services To Reduce Plastic Waste appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Survey Results: Does Your Workplace Offer Commuting Options?

September 12, 2018 by  
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Thanks to those of you who responded to last week’s … The post Survey Results: Does Your Workplace Offer Commuting Options? appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Survey Results: Does Your Workplace Offer Commuting Options?

Survey Results: Does Your Workplace Offer Commuting Options?

September 12, 2018 by  
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The role of the c-suite in driving diversity and inclusion

February 15, 2018 by  
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CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ is the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Hear from leaders driving this movement on the need for collaboration, progress so far, and vision for the future.

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The role of the c-suite in driving diversity and inclusion

10 Minutes with Brittni Furrow

October 3, 2017 by  
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Walmart’s senior director of supply chain sustainability faces a scale and pace unlike at any other workplace.

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10 Minutes with Brittni Furrow

How to Start a Composting Program at Work

September 13, 2017 by  
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Have you ever considered how much food waste your workplace generates? Nearly every day of the week, millions of Americans eat both breakfast and lunch at work. Consequently, copious amounts of sandwich crusts, apple cores and coffee grounds get…

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