Eliminating waste is great for business. It saves money and natural (usually finite) resources. But making conservation ideas viable involves a lot of creative thinking and hard work to develop solutions that are sustainable economically as well as environmentally.
When I was in business school, I was one of just a handful of students in the program interested in sustainability issues. Before Hurricane Katrina, "An Inconvenient Truth" and $100-a-barrel oil, the business world didn’t have many places for us. I always thought it would be easier to make a big impact if I were on the inside at a big resource user; if I could move the environmental needle even slightly at a big shipping company, for example, it would have a much larger global effect than my choosing a compact hybrid car over an SUV.
Organic agriculture resonated with me because, while it uses many of the same resources as those other industries, it’s fundamentally designed to work in harmony with natural systems. At Earthbound Farm, I can be an enabler rather than a minimizer.
We’ve got huge opportunities to advance the part of our mission that says we’ll be a “catalyst for positive change.” We’re constantly working to improve our energy conservation efforts throughout our facilities — and so far, by implementing conservation measures and equipment upgrades, we’ve seen energy savings from 20%-50%.
With organic produce, we have the chance to feed people well and help protect the environment. That’s one of the biggest impacts I can think of — and it’s the one I keep in mind as we try to figure out how to make new conservation programs workable, like our search for the most sustainable packaging solution. It’s not easy, but we have to try.
Chad Smith started as an intern with Earthbound Farm while he was in Stanford University’s MBA program. As our manager of supply chain sustainability, he relentlessly pursues sustainability initiatives in packaging, power, water, waste and recycling.