The UN met a few weeks ago in New York City. Most of us knew about this because President Trump was in the news. But something important was also going on for business. There was a meeting of governments working together to identify a plan to meet the U.N.’s Sustainability Development Goals by 2030. Big businesses and small businesses should take note: sustainability matters today now more than ever.
At the Sustainable Development Impact Summit, held directly after the U.N. meeting, Al Gore spoke in his closing remarks about the importance of sustainability to business viability. He said, “The age of commodities – goods that are anonymous as to where they come from –is coming to an end.” Companies are being asked by their customers and their employees to be careful about where they buy what. He said there is a “sustainability revolution” fueled by new-age technologies (like artificial intelligence and genetic engineering) that has empowered a new generation to believe that the sustainable life they want for their future is now within their reach. And they want to invest their money with companies that respect these values.
Many small business owners know this and are offering their customers products that are sourced sustainably and locally and they make this information readily visible. Big box stores are also starting to pay attention and are working hard to make visible their sustainable offerings.
But sustainable business practices isn’t just about where our products are purchased. It is also about how we run our business. And that really means how our employees run our business. So its also about education and training for our people. It is about learning a new way to think about the world around us – creating new paradigms and building new schemas for making even some of the most basic decisions throughout our day.
Let me give an example… Twenty years ago I went to work for a web design and tech company here in North Carolina. It was my first day of work and I was getting a tour around the building. The business was in an old, converted single-story brick school with all wood floors and the long hallway down the middle with many classrooms and other useful spaces off the sides. Part of my tour included a stop in the kitchen and an explanation that all coffee grounds were to be composted. If I was caught throwing them into the garbage I would get in big trouble. Twenty years ago I didn’t even know what composting was, much less why it was so important that not to do it would involve disciplinary action. Needless to say there were many other things this company did that were sustainable, such as recycling grey water on site. But they missed an opportunity to teach me about sustainability. To help me understand why they were composting. This company was way ahead of its time, but it needed a training program for their employees so that their employees could then become advocates for their business values and could then contribute to improve upon them. To become stewards of sustainability in their own right.
I spend a good amount of my personal time working with groups to help solve the climate crisis. The situation is absolutely urgent for all life on the planet. Therefore, as a business owner I believe it is my responsibility to do all I can in my business decisions and in how I run my business to alleviate the carbon footprint The Farthest Pixel has on the planet. To insure that when we take from society or the planet we also identify ways to remedy and give back. This includes educating those who work for me and with me on these impacts. Including my customers. If your business does not have a sustainability plan, or your company has not looked at the ways your organization has an impact on the environment and the people where you do business, the time to do this is now. Our business is teaching and we are here to help.