By guest blogger William Paddock, founder & managing director, WAP Sustainability
Last night, at a networking event, a woman asked me what I did for a living, and I told her I was a sustainability consultant. She replied, “That’s pretty cool, but how do you keep up with all the latest green technology?” Her words sum up the misconception of what sustainability is all about.
With that in mind, I wanted to write a blog on sustainability - what it is and what it is not. For those of you new to the term, sustainability is the intersection of environmental, economic and social concerns. The key thought I want to convey is that the concept of sustainability is very different from how sustainability is actually executed. For most people, sustainability is put on the same pedestal as recycling, green building and energy efficiency. All of these are related to sustainability; however, behaviors are often overlooked.
For example, if you asked 100 people if they recycle, 99 would probably tell you yes. I myself would have been one of the 99. However, when asked if I recycle all of my recyclables, I would have to answer no. Just last night I put a glass bottle in a trash can because there was no glass recycling option
for me. I am in total agreement with the “what” of recycling; however, the “how” was difficult, since I couldn’t find a bin labeled Glass. Thus I created waste.
Applying this little nuance in a professional setting, one of the biggest opportunities for cost savings and profit maximization comes from closing the gap between the “what” and the “how.” Whether you’re a law firm, a manufacturer or a health care facility, you know what needs to be done to maximize profits, reduce costs and minimize waste, but do you do it every time?
That said, sustainability is more than just a concept, it’s a core business practice that incorporates financial performance with resource use. While green buildings and solar panels have their application, sustainability is more than something you spend money on when the return is attractive. It’s a mindset, a behavior and a culture. In honor of the Chamber launching its NEXT Awards,
which include Sustainability as a category, I encourage Nashville’s businesses to share how they innovated results vs. purchased them.