Sustainability: Are You Ready? By Dave Edenfield

I don't know about you, but I am hearing a lot about sustainability lately. While I think everyone defines it differently, I recently found a definition, see sidebar, below, in an airline magazine that made me stop and think about growers and the direction their customers are headed. Sustainability is certainly the topic of the day, and even though it may not be at the front of your mind, it should be. Be assured the subject of sustainability is centered on the minds of all the big box guys.

Big Box Update

Wal-Mart has had the most to say about sustainability. From the highest levels of the company, there comes a mandate to become a greener, more environmentally friendly company — quickly. The company is working closely with both vendors and store operations to make dramatic and drastic changes.

Home Depot introduced the Eco-Options program, designed to highlight environmentally friendly products to its consumer base. Eco-Options products offer one or more of the following benefits: sustainable forestry, energy efficiency, clean water, clean air and healthy home.

Develop A Plan

The time has come for each of our businesses to develop a sustainable company message for both internal and external use.

We recently had an opportunity to visit with a couple of companies outside of our industry on the subject of developing a Company Sustain-ability Plan (CSP). The key ingredients to a successful plan include :

  • Decide on the definition of CSP for your company.
  • Write down a plan and include a basic timeline.
  • Have both owners and employees commit to the plan.
  • Understand how your CSP relates to and affects the operations of your company with your customers.
  • Be sure to communicate your plan to customers.

I would be willing to bet you have already started a CSP without really thinking about it. Let me ask you some questions:

  • Are you ethical, honest and fair in your business dealings?
  • Do you treat your staff with respect?
  • Do you treat your customers with respect?
  • Do you work to not damage the environment?

If you answered yes to these questions, you have the beginning of your very own company sustainability plan. Now you are ready to move to the next level. Consider employee training programs, greenhouse and production waste recycling and classes for your employees and the community to raise environmental awareness. You can also encourage and practice alternative methods of transportation to work, water recycling and reduced greenhouse heating.

Make A Difference

The development and implementation of a successful sustainability program is as much about communication and commitment as it is about the process. In the near future, your customer may ask you for a plan, but don't wait for them to ask. Be able to show you are working on it.

The time has come: Become a sustainable company. It will pay off in more ways than one.



A collection of methods to create economic growth that protects the environment, relives poverty and does not destroy natural capital in the short term at the expense of the long termÉmeeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

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Dave Edenfield

Dave Edenfield is president of Visions Group LLC, a solutions group providing marketing, management and production assistance to the green industry. He can be reached at [email protected] or (440) 319-2458.

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