Sustainability – A Whole Lot Going On (Or musings of a tired, but inspired, passenger in seat 9A)

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Sustainability – A Whole Lot Going On (Or musings of a tired, but inspired, passenger in seat 9A)

Emily Coccia (3rd from left), Jonathan Cannon (4th from left) and Erin Dillenbeck talk product giving at this week’s Sustainable Brands 2015 conference in San Diego.

By Richard Barney, Good360 Executive Vice President of Business Development

As I sit in my all-too-small airplane seat, winging my way back home from San Diego after our participation in the Sustainable Brands 15 Conference, I am admittedly a little overwhelmed. It was a whirlwind of 4 days filled with seminars, discussions, networking, parties, and even an early morning workout organized by The North Face. Yup, definitely overwhelmed.

Maybe it’s just the fact that I’m tired, but as I’m trying to pull my thoughts together to summarize my experience I am encountering a bit of a block. Not that there’s not anything to say – just the opposite. Weaving together everything that’s happening under the umbrella of “sustainability” seems daunting because of everything I saw, heard, and experienced.

Let me give you a little taste of why “summing up the conference” (as I initially hoped to be doing right now) is so difficult. How does one begin to pull together even the following small sampling of what I witnessed:

  • A company that produces just about everything you’d traditionally think of from a paper company – but makes all their products out of rock, eliminating the need for trees as material and water for processing.
  • A large car manufacturer who recently did a 180 pivot on their attitude towards sustainability.
  • A start-up company that is capturing greenhouse gas emissions and turning 100% into helpful chemicals for plastics.
  • A food company teaching poor residents of Newark how to prepare healthier meals.
  • The Boy Scouts of America, who now have a Sustainability merit badge that’s actually required for Eagle Scouts.
  • New software that assists companies in tracking their sustainability efforts
  • A university producing research on the incredible impacts of a CSR program on employee retention
  • A Fortune 500 CEO proclaiming his only real job is sustainability
  • A regional convenience store chain with their first-ever employee dedicated to CSR efforts.
  • And so, so much more!

And then there’s Good360, a player in the sustainability space since 1983 – diverting almost $9 billion in corporate products from landfills to people in need. A highlight for me and my team was catching up with several of our corporate partners, including Ann Inc., Gap, Mattel, William-Sonoma, Lego, and Sears. They stopped by our booth to talk about their sustainability programs with Good360, and to share news about their exciting new sustainability initiatives. The passion they exhibited was contagious. They’re not just paying lip service for marketing purposes. These folks are producing real, impactful solutions.

I guess the key take-away for me is that if you’re not paying attention to the sustainability space, you’re missing a great deal of energy, innovation, and change. So much going on that one can’t help but be optimistic about the future.

And the efforts are wide ranging—from recycling programs to changes in packaging to sourcing analysis to ingredient certifications.

And of course, product donations through Good360.

I’m proud that we play a significant role in the dynamic and world-improving sustainability space.

Now, does my seat recline and how much longer is this flight?

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