Article by Holly Knight, IHM Sisters Communications and Marketing Director, taken from The Immaculate Heart Of Mary Quarterly, Autumn 2008.
In 2003, before the sisters' big move back to the Motherhouse, they decided to produce a DVD on the sustainable renovation of this grand, old convent. Toward the end of the production, several sisters were interviewed and taped about their newly "green" home.
Sister Paula (Marie Paula) Cooney didn't mince her words: "Just because we're moving into a beautiful, green Motherhouse, doesn't mean that's where the story ends," she mused. "It actually just begins. Now we have to live green." And as every Sesame Street devotee knows, "It isn't easy being green."
Case in point: Walking on the rapidly renewable cork floor begged the housekeeping staff to ask, "How do we keep the cork green and clean?" Susie Carr, their housekeeping supervisor, turned to her suppliers and politely nagged them to provide environmentally-friendly, economical cleaning products. Susie's persistent nudging paid off. She and her crew got Green Seal Certified products and, in the process, helped to lead market change in the cleaning supply industry.
|Sister Carol (Jean Gabriel) Janowiak recycles her paper in the collection receptacle in the parking lot on the Motherhouse grounds.|
So what does it take to green a business? Or, in other words, to make your bottom line both profitable and purposeful? They offer a few tips.
- Embrace the vision of sustainability and commit to a long journey of changing the way you do business.
- Assess your operations one "R" at a time: reduce, reuse, recycle.
- Measure and track your waste based on the three "Rs." What can you reduce? What can you reuse? What can you recycle? You can only manage what you measure. Put metrics in place and measure improvements as you transition to recycled materials, reduce your energy use, water use and solid waste.
- Green your purchasing. Look for environmentally-friendly products. Join a cooperative or collaborative purchasing group. They joined one, pooled our resources and bought green office supplies at reduced prices. In fact, their office supplier now publishes a catalog of green office supplies - a catalog that gets thicker each year.
- Institute a green meeting policy. (They use e-mail to send agendas, handouts, minutes; reuse name tags; use conference calls in place of travel, etc.)
- Use non-toxic, Green Seal Certified cleaning products, recycled tissue, toilet paper and paper towels, Green Label vacuum cleaners and dryer balls instead of dryer sheets.
- Educate your employees on sustainable practices. Find regular ways to share news about your progress.
- Use Energy Star-compliant computer equipment and appliances.
- Be patient. Changing the way you do business doesn't happen overnight.
Going green is getting easier. Demand is increasing supply. More and more business owners want to reduce their carbon footprint. And they're beginning to understand their business as an ecosystem. That means managing the flow of goods, energy and other resources from start to finish. The merging of economic and environmental interests represents a major shift in how business is being done. And many businesses have found that incorporating an environmental ethic into their business practice creates a business opportunity.
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Monroe, MI 48162
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