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Development of Sustainability Program: December 2021


Reflection on 2021

Monday, December 20, 2021  by qrelihan

Moving forward with the Development & Implementation of the Sustainability Program:

              Before, we can look forward to all the plans and goals set for the Sustainability Program in 2022, I would like to reflect on the steps that have been taken in the past 7-8 months. For the most part, I have spent the past 8 months researching every sustainability related question under the sun.  However, one that I have circled back to many times looked like this, what is the first step in developing a sustainability program?  In fact, I tried many iterations of that same question because I was hoping that somewhere out there was a simple, obvious answer to a very complex question.  What I have discovered is that the answer to that question differs for everyone and it depends on what type of products or services a company provides.  Therefore, many ideas were written down, discussed, and eventually brought to company stakeholders, who were able to provide more insight regarding the feasibility of a particular initiative. 

              One of the most important lessons I learned this past year is that a Sustainability Program will not be built overnight, even if it what needs to be done to create an effective one seems obvious. This may seem like a silly realization, but it is easy to get excited and overly ambitious when you are first starting out.  I knew the basic components of what makes a company environmentally sustainable, however there is a large gap between information gathering and the implementation of information.  For example, before we can work towards lowering our company’s greenhouse gas emissions, we need to identify what business operations generates the most and then monitor those areas for a few months to gain benchmark data. Over the past 7-8 months I have spent a great deal of time collecting and recording data points that I thought would be helpful in determining next steps and setting benchmark goals.  However, what I have realized is some of the data points that I spent months tracking may not be useful to the development of the Sustainability Program.  As frustrating as this may seem, it is also an indication that I am making progress, because I have eliminated some metrics that will not be necessary to the success of the Sustainability Program.

              Therefore, I have outlined some takeaways from this year that I hope to not only refer to but also help others learn from my mistakes.

  1. Not every metric you measure is going to be useful and that is ok
  2. Conversations with company stakeholders are just as important as researching potential sustainability initiatives
  3. Keep up with environmental news stories
  4. Go out and experience what business operations look like firsthand
  5. Make connections in every department of your company since it is important to discuss how an initiative will affect their daily operations
  6. Ask questions
  7. Keep an organized document library to house all your research, data gathering and meeting notes
  8. Have a rough timeline that outlines where you want to be by certain dates

           I have learned a lot about the process of developing and implementing a Sustainability Program this past year.  I fully intend to continue learning and growing so that this time next year I will have an even longer list of takeaways to offer. 

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