In January 2015, I embarked on a new journey to learn more about sustainability, and how I could be a positive influence to inspire change—not only at Ewing, but also in the Green Industry. I enrolled in an Executive Master of Sustainability Leadership program at Arizona State University. This is a 13-month, hybrid masters program (mostly online) that was designed from the feedback of hundreds of sustainability leaders worldwide on what skills were needed to help create change, further and faster than before. We’ve had presentations from amazing sustainability leaders from companies such as Dell, Patagonia, Kimberly-Clark and Sprint to name a few. Our instructors provide us with inspiring information about sustainability in the areas of global context, sustainability strategy, leadership and sustainability communications. As part of our program we spent eight days in Amsterdam this past summer, consulting with several companies helping provide solutions to their sustainability challenges. It was an amazing experience, especially getting the opportunity to see how the Netherlands embraces sustainability.
Some reflections on the experience so far, as I get close to graduation:
We work in the original “Green Industry.” Every day, we help connect people with the outdoors and nature, whether that is through a backyard landscape, a commercial business park, a sports field, an edible garden, a vineyard or a golf course. There aren’t any other industries that I know of that have the power to change lives every day through plants and the outdoors. It’s time we talk about the benefits of what we do before someone else creates our story for us.
We can do a better job of embracing sustainability in our industry. Sustainability is a journey, and it’s not something that just happens overnight to your business or something you can check a box off on a list. It’s a way of looking at what we’re already doing through a new lens. Are there things that we can do to improve our efficiencies, whether that is through new technology (high-efficiency nozzles, smart controllers, soil moisture sensors, LED lighting, etc.), or making our operations more efficient? Yes. Can we adopt more sustainable practices in our industry such as reducing water waste, improving the soil health, switching toward organic options when possible for our fertility and pest management? Yes. Do we have to wait until we’re forced to make these changes due to extreme drought or local city ordinances? No.
The time has come to take a leadership position and look at our industry differently.
Sustainability is good for business, it’s good for your employees, and it’s also good for the environment. I look forward to being able to share more ideas with you about Ewing’s Sustainable Solutions offering in the future.