Go Green! Sustainability IS Good Business.

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Teeneke Barresi Social Media Maven

Want to be inspired? Meet Rachel Hestmark and other Sustainability businesses in Portland.

The Go Green Conference is a full day of sustainability learning for business and government decision-makers. I was lucky enough to attend this year and came away thoroughly energized and motivated by presentations from inspiring speakers, panels of small business owners, and keynote addresses that absolutely rocked the room. They had all of us who attended motivated to Go Green!

Rachel Hestmark, Founder and Designer of Hestmark

The day started with a panel of small green business owners. Rachel Hestmark, Founder and Designer of Hestmark designs, was particularly inspiring to me. She developed a partnership with a local upholstery company after she noticed they were discarding rolls and rolls of fabric in their dumpster. That material that was previously destined for the landfill is now transformed into creative, fashionable and functional bags! Her story of starting a small green business was inspiring in itself, but what actually inspired me about Rachel was her tireless volunteer work. She takes her bags to local schools and donates an amazing amount of time teaching elementary school kids the importance of re-using materials and reducing waste. But that’s not all, she’s a whip-smart savvy business woman who also teaches these kids the risks and rewards of running and starting a business and how to find opportunities that benefit your business, your community, and the planet.

Design Thinking presented by the Coraggio Group

The next session was a hands-on working session on Design Thinking presented by the Coraggio Group. Design Thinking is a methodology for bringing empathetic insight into problem solving. As you design a thing (product, process, tool, etc…) through the Design Thinking process, you consider how people will use the thing first; what’s the end user experience? The interesting factor in this process was the speed at which groups came up with several solutions and approaches to solving specific problems. I especially liked the iterative nature. We all know it’s rare to get things right the first time and in this process, that’s a good thing. The goal is to be nimble and open-minded. If you fail fast and fail often, your will iterate your way to better design. This process is especially helpful when looking at ways to increase sustainability. We are very excited to start using this process when looking at our mountain of ideas!

Eco-Cab and their new Tesla

I skipped the long lunch line and opted to take a ride with Eco-Cab in their new Tesla instead. WOW! If I could afford one, I would certainly have one. Knowing that a ride is a quick phone call away is good enough for this economically challenged penny pincher. Eco-Cab offers the only 100% emission free cab service in Portland (aside from the bicycle cabs, this is Portland after all).

Pinchot University located in Seattle, Washington

The day ended with a speech from Gifford Pinchot III and what an amazing way to wrap up the day! Gifford spoke about the inspiration that drove him and his wife to open Pinchot University located in Seattle, Washington. This amazing duo, who are no strangers to the world of big business, were concerned about the way businesses view profit and ethics. They saw that the old and outdated teachings of the Friedman Doctrine were still being taught in most business ethics classes.

The Friedman Doctrine is the idea that the only social responsibility a business has is to its shareholders, and if people want to contribute socially, they can do it on their own time with their own resources. So, according to this doctrine, companies should pollute to the extent of the law if it means profit. Then after work the individuals who caused the pollution during business hours can use their own resources to try to clean it up. I’m sure you see the ridiculous nature of this outdated doctrine; it’s a lot easier to prevent pollution that to try to clean it up after the fact.

Pinchot University offers a different approach; they teach MBA students how to be responsible and ethical business owners and leaders while still being profitable. He gave many examples of successful graduates and just writing this give me chills as to the powerful nature of this game-changing approach to educating the next generation of business leaders.

Now that I’ve been to the Go Green Conference I’m more motivated than ever to find ways Essential can improve its sustainability efforts. I can’t wait to bring all of the amazing things I learned at this conference to the rest of our sustainability team!

What sustainability efforts are you taking in your business? We’d love to hear your ideas!

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