Friday, September 25, 2015

What is Sustainability?

Is your business sustainable?

Last month, I wrote about company culture (article is here). Potential customers and employees are interested in both company culture and sustainable practices to determine organization character.

In the early 1900s, the California sardine industry was booming. Cannery Row factories lined up along Monterey Bay, fish were brought in without limits, processed and canned, and waste dumped into the bay. You can see the problem here. Unrestricted fishing and pollution led to environmental and economic disaster. The waters that supported the sardines were too polluted and damaged to continue. That situation is the opposite of sustainability. Sustainability includes restraint on harvests to manage resources and reduction and/or repurposing of waste materials.

Sustainable practices are those that allow continued use of resources. Sustainability applies to many situations outside of the industrial context. Individuals can pursue sustainable goals as well as institutions.

Sustainability includes familiar concepts that we may practice daily. Reducing landfill waste is a sustainable practice because landfill space is limited. That practice involves other sustainable concepts like recycling, repurposing, and composting. Below is an informal list of sustainable concepts:

  • energy savings
  •  recycling
  •  repurposing
  •  conserve resources 
  •  water conservation
  •  solar energy
  •  rainwater collection
  •  decrease carbon footprint
  •  purchase carbon offsets
  •  growing your own food
  •  reduce landfill waste
  •  composting
  •  support businesses and individuals with sustainable agendas
  •  use green construction
3 Pillars of Sustainability

Sustainability can be described as 3 pillars: environment, economy, and social.

Environment:
  • climate protection
  • resources protection
  • biodiversity
  • organic farming
  • decrease use of natural resources
Economy:
  • using local produce in season to avoid resource use and pollution involved with distance transportation 
Social:
  • equality between men and women 
  • education and training opportunities
  • fighting poverty
  • prosperity for humanity


As professionals in the Quality industry, our roles are important in sustainability. We maintain and improve quality standards to sustain a customer base. By applying Lean Thinking, we reduce waste to sustain company resources. As company employees and individuals we can use our influence to improve sustainability in all aspects of our lives.

Below is a 4-minute Explainity video on the 3 Pillar Model of sustainability.


This month's guest post on A View from the Q is Does Mission Matter? by ASQ Fellow and incoming ASQ board chair, Pat LaLonde.

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