Creating a Culture of Sustainability with the Four E’s
“Drive change from the bottom up…this is one of the most successful ways
to develop a culture of sustainability.”
According to Ashkin, a culture of sustainability exists “when all staff members support a healthy environment, strive to improve the lives of workers in their organization as well as people in their local community, while continuing to create a business that is financially successfully over the long term.”
To make this a reality, he says businesses must practice the “four Es.” These include the following:
Business owners must educate staff as to the value of sustainability for the organization and employees as well as the local community. The goal here is to make this a shared value, supported by all those in the organization.
Once the value of sustainability is clearly defined and understood, owners must make sustainability visible. Business owners and managers must agree on sustainability goals and targets and find ways to measure and monitor those goals. “Measuring and monitoring make the entire process ‘real’ for staff members,” says Ashkin.
Encourage, on an ongoing basis, everyone in the organization to get involved with the sustainability initiatives. “Continue to have meetings and form a ‘sustainability team’ to lead, direct, and encourage everyone to get on board with the organization’s sustainability initiatives,” says Ashkin. “Sustainability goals are easier to achieve when everyone is involved at all levels of an organization.”
Allow small groups of motivated people to experiment with different ways to promote sustainability. Examples of this could be a ride-sharing program, composting in a cafeteria, or developing a system to ensure office electrical devices are turned off after business hours and on weekends. “Try to drive change from the bottom up,” Ashkin advises. “This is one of the most successful ways to develop a culture of sustainability.”