Month <span class=December 2014" src="/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/cropped-office-building-secondary-1.jpg">

Month December 2014

Three Ways to Get Unstuck on Your Sustainability Journey

The SSC Team December 16, 2014 Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

Last fall, we published a blog entry dedicated to helping you get "unstuck" on your sustainability journey. As the year comes to an end and 2015 is just around the corner, we thought this advice could be helpful so you can start your 2015 sustainability journey off on the right foot! Enjoy:

Do you find yourself turning an idea or a business problem over and over in your head, and no matter the number of Google searches you perform or the number of walks you take, you just can't figure out a way to move forward? We all go through it. The key is knowing how to emerge. 

Eric V. Holtzclaw, CEO and founder of Laddering Works, quoted in Inc. Magazine

No matter how successful your sustainability program is, it's likely that at some point you are going to hit a roadblock. Nothing you try will work, and you'll make yourself crazy going around in circles. Sometimes it's helpful to step back and try the three ways to "get unstuck" suggested by Holtzclaw.


There are a number of sustainability communities out there, each with their own unique kind of support. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • LinkedIn Groups -- there are literally dozens of green and sustainability-focused groups on LinkedIn. Join a couple that look good, and pose some questions to the group!
  •  Quora -- while not specifically dedicated to sustainability, there are some fascinating (and brilliant) people who chime in with all kinds of insight. Our latest favorite: What are examples of organzations that produce sustainable clothing and apparel?
  • Local green business networking groups -- if you live in (or near) a decent-sized city, chances are that there is at least one group that meets up periodically. Try Net Impact or Green Drinks to get started!


Obviously, this one is our favorite options. We love being that "outside expert" that people turn to for coaching and consulting guidance. Whether its a single hour on the phone, a 2-day "sustainability sprint" (where you come to our offices to dive deep and fast into a particular issue), or a 6-month engagement--take advantage of what sustainability experts have to offer. Interested? Contact us for a complimentary consultation.


Here are a few of the gems in our sustainability library that continue to inspire us long after the first reading:

What do YOU do to get unstuck when it comes to sustainability? Join the conversation on Twitter, where SSC President Jennifer Woofter (@jenniferwoofter) tweets on overcoming sustainability challenges. 

4 Things to Know about SPLC’s Guidance for Leadership in Sustainable Purchasing Program

The SSC Team December 11, 2014 Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

Beginning in January 2015, the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (SPLC) will be launching a pilot program aimed to help companies have more leadership guidance in sustainable purchasing. This program strives to fix the lack of coordination and standardization among purchasing companies when it comes to sustainability, and it hopes to provide more detailed guidance. Currently, SPLC is recruiting companies to join the pilot that will begin in January 2015 and will last until May 2015.

With the program set to launch in a few weeks, we decided to provide a brief overview of what a company can expect from the new guidance program. Below are four key aspects everyone can expect:

Getting Started

When first entering the pilot program, SPLC offers some advice on some of the best ways to start. One of the first steps is to gain support from key internal and external stakeholders. It is then important to create a scope of all the activities, goals, roles, and responsibilities that will come up during the program. Finally, make sure that you have internal and external stakeholder engagement set up throughout the entire process.

The Process

During the pilot program, there are four key areas of the process:

  • Analyze – identifying impacts within spending, prioritizing categories for action
  • Action Plan – identifying and selecting proven strategies for mitigating impacts while delivering values (purchasing category guidance is used here - see below)
  • Implement – setting goals, timelines and policies, training staff, and engaging suppliers
  • Measure – tracking and benchmarking performance while evaluating for continuous improvement

Category Guidance

SPLC recognizes that not every company purchases the same products. Some companies deal with food purchasing, while other companies handle transportation and fuels, and SPLC has designated categories that address specific guidance for a company in each sector. While each category might have different guidance, each one will have the same structure by providing a scope, potential challenges, metrics, indicators, case studies, resources, and more.

Getting Recognition

Each company that participates in the pilot program will have the opportunity to earn recognition from SPLC. Depending on a company’s involvement in the program (there are different levels of participation), a company can earn leadership recognition. More information regarding this aspect of the pilot program will be released once the rating system is released.

Earlier this year we wrote about SPLC's tips to improving your purchasing leadership. You can read that blog entry here.

Why You Should Talk About Your Sustainability Failures

The SSC Team December 9, 2014 Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

Last year we posted a blog entry talking about why it is beneficial to talk about your sustainability failures. A year later we feel like the message is still true today, so we decided to re-post the original blog entry. Enjoy: 

When I speak in public, I usually tell a story in the first 10 minutes about something I failed at. And I'll talk about getting cancer when I was 20 and how that eliminated a lot of my fear. People connect with these things, because everyone has failed at something and been afraid and had health issues. Only strong people are comfortable talking about their failures. I don't see a downside to it. 

--- Hayes Drumwright, founder and CEO of Trace3, quoted in Inc. Magazine

Being honest about yourself--both your strengths and your weaknesses--is a crucial element of likability, authenticity, and trustworthiness. It's true for individuals, and it's also true for organizations.

We frequently have companies come to us to help them "tell a better sustainability story". And what we say is simple: telling a great sustainability story means sharing both the good and the bad.

Telling a good sustainability story doesn't mean just sharing the positive results. It means taking your audience through the experience in a brutally honest way. Sustainability is a complex and challenging topic--probably the most urgent and daunting task of our society- and no one expects you to get it right 100 percent of the time. (And if that's the story you're trying to sell, you're going to get a lot of suspicion, doubt, and disappointment). 

Instead, tell us about the things you tried that failed. Tell us what you learned when things went wrong. Tell us how your early misses informed your later successes. Tell us what you'd do differently if you could do it all over again. 

Those are the sustainability stories that inspire. 

Want some help with your sustainability story? We offer a Green Communications Audit that will assess the strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities of your current environmental and social communications. And if you're ready to start an annual disclosure process, check out our sustainability reporting services.

Upcoming Webinar – Regulations and Retailer Expectations: Managing Chemicals in the CPG Supply Chain

The SSC Team December 4, 2014 Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

Today, the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies are facing a tough situation. It's now a challenge for them to keep up with the rapidly changing expectations on chemical use and chemical management in their products, processes and supply chain.

Retailers and manufacturers in the CPG supply chain face increasing scrutiny over material use. Whether it's ongoing compliance related to international laws and regulations such as REACH, or new expectations around disclosure of conflict minerals, CPG companies must have robust and effective tools in place to keep them out of trouble. In addition to staying on top of existing and emerging regulations, CPG companies must also continuously evaluate and respond to their customers' demands on green chemistry, materials stewardship, and chemicals management. Over the last months, major retailers such as Walmart has started listing chemicals to eliminate, and CPG companies can only expect more such lists as time goes by.

In this presentation, expert speaker Jennifer Woofter will provide participants with an overview of changing chemical management expectations and best practices for managing current and future requirements. You will get a better understanding of how current chemical regulations impact CPG manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Going further, you will understand how non-governmental stakeholders are driving the way CPG companies manage chemicals at each stage of the supply chain. The session will also look into what CPG companies can expect in the coming five years, and how should they get prepared right now to face the upcoming challenges.

Session Highlights:

  1. How major retailers like Walmart and Target are shaping the CPG industry's approach to chemical management
  2. Why staying in compliance with local laws and regulations is no longer enough
  3. How to protect confidential and proprietary information in the face of demands for transparency
  4. Who is leading the charge on chemicals management - government or industry
  5. Also, get access to leading 5 resources to stay on top of green chemistry trends

The webinar will take pace on Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 1:00 pm ET. You can register for the webinar here.

Is the supply chain the biggest roadblock to sustainability? Find out more here.

Are We Truly Engaged in Sustainability? This and Other Questions Heard at the ISSP Conference

The SSC Team December 2, 2014 Strategic Sustainability Consulting No comments

A dispatch from SSC consultant Alexandra Kueller

In mid-November, I had the opportunity to attend the annual ISSP conference in Denver. ISSP, or the International Society of Sustainability Professionals, annually holds a conference to allow sustainability professionals from all around the world to come together to discuss, network, and learn from one another. Those two days were filled a variety of speakers covering a wide range of topics relating to sustainability. And as much as I would have liked to have attended each and every breakout session, it just was not possible!

But for every session I was able to go to, many questions were asked. Some of the questions were rhetorical, others made us sit and think long and hard about what we could do to solve that question. Some of the questions were sector-specific, others were more general questions. Throughout my two days in Denver, I took note of some of the questions that really stayed with me, and here are those questions:

  • What are we actually gaining from our consumption? We consume – a lot. After all, we are only human. But what are we gaining from all that consumption? With all the new clothes, products, and tech gadgets we are always buying, are we actually getting anything in the long run?
  • Just because something might be legal, does it make it right? In business we are always make choices, and while they are legal choices, are they the ethical choice? Are they just short-term solutions to long-term problems? We need to start examining why we make the choices we do.
  • How do we engage others in sustainability? As sustainability is growing not only throughout businesses, but our everyday lives as well, how do we make sure that we are not just doing, but rather becoming a model for others?
  • Are we aware of our true power and influence? Being sustainability professionals, we can draw from years of experience and education to influence others, but are we maximizing our power?
  • How do we change existing price structures to help maximize efficiency? Some states have their utilities set up so that the more a customer consumes, the cheaper it is for the customer. How can we change an existing structure so that it’s still beneficial to the customer, but also efficient?
  • Who is asking for transparency? Many companies are now publishing annual sustainability reports, but who is the target audience? Often times the audience are the people, the groups asking for that transparency. Be aware who the audience is when writing your report.
  • How are companies integrating sustainability? Companies list sustainability initiatives on their website and in their reports, but what are they doing to make sure sustainability is actually being integrated into the business?
  • How does a company instill its values into the company so people take it seriously? Company values are important, but what are the companies doing to make sure their employees know the values are important? How does a company make sure that the values are being followed and adhered to?
  • What trends are we not anticipating? As sustainability professionals, we cannot become complacent with the trends that are facing us – we need go forward and start expecting the unexpected.
  • Are we truly engaged in sustainability? We all face sustainability in our daily lives (after all, it is our profession!), but what are we doing to make sure we’re not just “going through the motions”? Whether it is personal or professional, what are the steps we should be taking to make sure we are engaged with our sustainability actions?

What questions do you find yourself asking about sustainability? Let us know in the comments below!