Five sustainability teaching moments from Lewis & Clark

Steve Hambuchen

Amy Dvorak says any entity, be it a college or a business, should explore the city's Sustainability at Work program.

When Lewis & Clark College became the first private college to achieve Salmon-Safe Certification last month, it marked a huge feather in the cap of the school’s sustainability champion.

That would be Amy Dvorak, the college’s sustainability manager, who’s also overseen the school’s foray onto the Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll and helped engineer Lewis & Clark’s designation as one of the Sierra Club’s sustainable “Cool Schools” list.

Dvorak’s peers say she’s a font of information regarding tips other businesses — that is, beyond the higher ed world — can deploy to become more sustainable. We decided to put her to the test.

Here are five tips, submitted by Dvorak via email, that can help any type of organization become more eco-friendly.

1. Build a supportive culture. Strong organizations with employees who feel valued and part of a team are more likely to contribute to sustainable action.

2. Donate or sell? The reuse, reclaimed, antique market is hot. Consider selling items on craigslist or to local salvage organizations. Great collaborations are possible!

3. Got foodies? Several organic, local farms and farming co-ops around town will provide a CSA (community supported agriculture) drop-off at your site, if you can sign up enough members.

4. Look for relevant newsletters and listservs: Our inboxes are overloaded, focus on the best newsletters and listservs for your industry. One of my current faves is Sustainable Business Oregon. (I consistently recommend it for all the latest buzz!) (Editor’s note: Neither we or Lewis & Clark’s communications team coached Dvorak in any way on that response ... both sides, however appreciate Dvorak’s savvy.)

5. Audit your business practices with the Sustainability at Work program. Check out their website, meet with one of their staff, they have access to lots of free resources for businesses. Promoting transparency and external recognition develops additional trust and commitment to your brand.

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