The Tipping Point of Green

Rhana

The “tipping point” is here, the “green” conversation is main stream. As the executive or owner of your company your role is to engage managers and employees in a new vision; one where we all can live differently – with a higher level of awareness and a greater quotient of happiness. The “use and trash” or “sip and toss” mindset has diminished our natural resources. We are at the precipice of tremendous change, where revaluing resources and our quality of life as individuals and communities is our first priority.

Currently every employee Position Description in our spa business includes this process: “Sustainability Management: To develop and maintain standards of sustainability in my work and to participate and encourage others in our ongoing learning and efforts towards sustainability.” The employee is provided with a list of guidelines and business practices that describe all our sustainability efforts and expectations.

Having been openly criticized by a former employee for wasting time on ‘greening efforts” in my business and the spa industry I learned that it is necessary to have processes and systems that educate, measure, and reward individual and collective sustainability efforts. The sentiment that “global warming” is a rich man’s worry can easily permeate our modestly paid service industry when context is neglected on the personal level. Articulating the WIFM, what’s in it for me”, feature in individual terms is a necessary step. Engaging department leaders, managers and supervisors in an initial meeting to brainstorm ideas for improvements and meaningful rewards is essential. Following through on goals and keeping the vision as an active dialogue in the organization will, over time transform the company culture towards embedded sustainability.

The old model of competition where one might hear the statement “we are greener than you.” is giving way to a new model, and one based on the original meaning of the word: competere from the Latin which means “to strive together or to seek together some common interest.” Author Mark Anielski offers a vision for the future in his book The Economics of Happiness- Building Genuine Wealth; a vision in which the consumer becomes the citizen, progress measured by consumption gives way to progress being measured by the pursuit of happiness and genuine well-being, and practices of hoarding are replaced by practices of sharing and reciprocity. The Green Spa Network is an example of this new and refreshing attitude in our own industry!

All businesses face the challenge of educating and engaging employees in change processes. Adam Werbach, the Global CEO of sustainability agency Saatchi & Saatchi S. assisted WalMart in the development and implementation of their Personal Sustainability Practice initiative: individual employees decided on something they could do that would be good for them and good for the planet. 20,000 WalMart employees quit smoking!

By: Rhana Pytell

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