Sustainability has been nagging at me for the past couple months. What does that word mean to me personally, for businesses…and as I honed in on this edition, what does sustainability look like, feel like, and how can it benefit you as a leader in the commercial cleaning industry? Personally, as I internalized, conceptualized and let the ideals of environmental and ethical improvements sink in I had to come to terms with a few things. What my family eats, the products we buy, how we play, the methods by which we are transported, and how we use energy all matter a bit more now. Once you learn the principles of sustainability you can’t help be aware of the ways you can make even small improvements.
So is the case in business too. Once you start to make changes and get a high from seeing the results, it’s an upward momentum that becomes addictive. But if you are pondering going green and changing your business model toward a more sustainable one…what you really want to know is if it can be done profitably. I think we have answered that on these pages with an emphatic, “yes.”
When you read about Scandinavian Building Services and the Hay family I think you will agree they are Sustainability Cowboys. You know the type: that tough guy who swaggers through the swinging doors of the saloon and up to the bar, confident and cool. Others fear him because he doesn’t play by their rules. He bucks the system and stands up for what he believes. While we can all appreciate the cowboy analogy, the status quo in this arena has defined our culture over the past century. The status quo exists in large part because this is just the way things have always been done. Sustainability Cowboys have a tough fight ahead of them.
The US, Canada, and most other first world countries were built on innovation, invention, hard work, and the capitalist way of doing business. For the most part, our modern society has been based on consumption, with little regard to the environment, ethics, or the impact waste would have on the planet...and future generations. The bottom line is—no matter what reports you read, or believe—we all have to do better. We have to make small changes in our personal and professional life and demand those whom we support through buying their products or services are Sustainability Cowboys too. We have to make these changes even if it costs more…just because it is the right thing to do. If enough of us make those small changes, we will shift cultural norms toward a better and more ethical world, improve the way business is done…and just maybe, become more profitable because we swaggered up to the bar.