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Sustainability and Our Social Contract

Sustainability and Our Social Contract

Sustainability and Our Social Contract

March 21, 2015 Sustainability

Sustainability and our Social Contract 


Denver may be looking a little greener, not just because of legalization, but because we’ve just planted our 500th tree in the Mile High City with the help of Plantit-2020, a non-profit organization specializing in sustainable reforestation. We strongly believe in replenishing what we take, and we feel that it’s important for all businesses, no matter what size, to adhere to the social contract. These first 500 trees were planted in national and state forests north and south of the I-70, between Denver and the western border of Colorado. Over the years, these forests have been denuded from Pine Bark Beetles and wild fires. In 2013, Colorado lost 195,000 acres of forest to wildfires.​

Photo of Denver Forest Map

So does this make us sustainable? Absolutely not. According to Chris Laszlo, sustainability expert and managing partner of Sustainable Value Partners, a management consultancy providing environmental strategies that help reduce waste and improve stakeholder value, we are employing a bolt-on strategy, not an embedded one. What this means is that we are not truly sustainable, we’re simply cutting down trees in one part of the planet, and then planting new ones in another. If we were to have an embedded strategy, it might look something like helping the tree farmers better manage their harvesting practices and manage the sustainability of the product all the way through its lifecycle. In order for a company to be sustainable, it must be everyone’s job, not just someone at the top making a few decisions to make the company look good. Sure, it feels good to plant a tree, but this is by no means something we can hang our hat on.

We reuse a lot of packaging from our suppliers to ship materials and products because it saves money and reduces waste, but again, this isn’t a strategy, it’s one very small part of the strategy. We know we have a long way to go to improve the customer experience, but one of the things we want to take into account is understanding what will happen to the packaging when it ultimately ends up in a landfill. Will it stay in our soil for the next 150 years before it begins to start breaking down? Will it gas off poisonous chemicals as it degrades? We’re not trying to greenwash, yet we are trying to develop an embedded approach so that everything we do is better for all stakeholders, not just the shareholders. Easier said than done, but rest assured, it is a priority for us!