Looks like caring about the environment is cool again. There’s the new encyclical from Pope Francis, polls showing Americans increasingly rate climate change and other environmental concerns as important, and craft brewers coming together to support clean water. As if we need more evidence, yesterday we had the kick-off meeting of the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin sustainability task force. Twenty volunteers from all different parts of the organization and all different roles got together to start the process of assessing where we are with regard to sustainability, and suggesting targets for improvements.
We started the meeting with each person introducing her- or himself and talking about why this is important to them. A common theme was concern about the impact we as individuals and organizations have on the planet. Many people talked about how they take care to reduce, reuse, and recycle at home – they want to be able to do the same at work. A few commented on the imperative for Children’s as a community leader to set an example and use our practices as an opportunity to educate children and families about how they can improve their own sustainability. It was clearly a deeply personal, sometimes even spiritual, motivation for most of us. At the same time, several people noted that reducing waste also a way to reduce expense, thus linking environmental and financial sustainability – a concept known as the triple bottom line, or “people, planet, profit.”
Whatever their inspiration, I am so grateful that so many people care enough about our organization and our environment that they are willing to share their passion and energy to help us reduce our impact on the planet.