Future Perfect : Engaging Local Communities In Sustainability

City of Albany, NY

The Capital Region of New York has recently published a draft Sustainability Plan, (CC, 2010, UpstateNyer)

It is an understandably gloomy beginning to the New Year. Global climate change negotiations have failed yet again, this time at a meet held in Qatar in late 2012, leaving the rest of us wondering why they hold these high-level talks with such depressing regularity. State-side, a crippling drought, wildfires and the incredibly destructive Hurricane Sandy has done precious little to break the stony silence emanating from Washington. Does that mean we start going the way of “climate adapters” and stock up on disaster rations? Thankfully, there is still hope for our future. Local governments, both big and small, are stepping up to the challenge of creating resilient, sustainable and vibrant communities of tomorrow. The US is leading the effort with over 600 state & city governments that have incorporated sustainability into their planning processes. These pioneering communities are part of a network known as ICLEI – Local Governments For Sustainability, working together to transform the climate change debate from the bottom up. Continue reading

Engaging Millennial Employees in Sustainability Campaigns

[Watch an introductory video on Millennials by Erin Schrode of Teens Turning Green, SB 2011]

People make a company. This simple truth is becoming increasing relevant for businesses looking to hire and retain a younger workforce, one that will take companies forward for the next few decades. The challenge is, the emerging pool of talent is dominated by ‘millennials‘, a group that is changing the rules of the game. Remember a time when a steady paycheck was enough to ensure lifelong commitment from employees? No more.  A 2011 PWC study on those born between 1980 and 2000 indicates that millennials actively seek multiple employers, sometimes at the same time. They are willing to forgo financial reward for enhanced personal development opportunity and a better work/life balance. And in a radical breakaway from earlier generations, nearly 60% of millennials say they would only work for an employer whose social and environmental values resonate their own progressive views. A stunning 86% would consider leaving an employer whose ethics did not match their own. They are constantly asking the question, “Why do I want to work here?”, driven by the belief that their work can change the world. One respondent sums it up as, “My career will be one of choice, not one chosen out of desperation. It will align who I am with what I do.” Continue reading

A Business Case For Diversity – Chalk It Up Pt. 1

Chalk It Up talks about sustainability metrics (CC Nobert Lov, 2010)

I love numbers, which is why I believe that hard data is critical to sustainability strategy. In my approach to marketing, my mantra is “what you can measure, you can communicate”. To explore the “numbers”, I am starting a new series on metrics and measurement tools called Chalk It Up. Hope you will enjoy these posts as much I will! (PS: A thank you to the organizer and participants of a great Tweetchat #sustyXX, where this  idea was born!)

The first Chalk It Up post looks at the issue of diversity, an indicator of social justice and an important measure on the social side of sustainability. Continue reading

Talking To The Post-Recession Consumer

P L Chadwick [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Shopping will never be the same. (CC P L Chadwick)

We would like to believe that the worst of the recession is behind us. Although we are cautiously optimistic about the future, deep down we know that things will never be the same. The downturn scared us good. Goodbye mindless consumption and hello budgets. In a study by Ogilvy of 1200 American respondents, 73% said they would rather have fewer, high quality things. A full 92% say they are using coupons, 91% are shopping at cheaper/discount stores and 90% are buying more store brands. Those who spent recklessly in the good old days are starting to enjoy a more thrifty lifestyle. The post-recession consumer is here to stay. Continue reading