State Governing and Advocacy Association for Contractors, Distributors and Manufacturers of Cleaning and Maintenance Supplies

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Florida Sanitary Supply Association

 Sustainability: Beyond Green and Eco-Friendly

Larry Smith: President Go Green Electrolyzer
 
Sustainability. You can read about it in Scientific American, Forbes Magazine, and the Daytona Beach Journal. Businesses and industries from banking to pharmaceuticals, hotels to big box stores, Coca-Cola to L’Oréal are all touting their sustainability initiatives.  “Green” and “eco-friendly” no longer seem to say enough.
 
But what is sustainability?
 

While sustainability doesn’t have an official definition, the commonly accepted one goes like this: “meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This is a broad definition for sure and applies to a myriad of areas, from how we use our energy and water resources, deal with pollution, dispose of waste, grow our food, control toxic chemicals, manufacture products, even how we promote freedom of speech and freedom of the press. It applies to businesses and nonprofits, colleges and universities, hospitals and communities.  Ideally, it reaches into our own homes.
 
What does sustainability look like for business?
 

Just last week, I attended a meeting of the new Florida Green Chamber of Commerce, the very first Chapter of the US Green Chamber of Commerce . That’s right, a Green Chamber of Commerce.  While traditional Chambers of Commerce focus on promoting and protecting businesses within a particular community, the Green Chamber’s mission is to “ empower businesses and communities to grow through achieving the triple bottom line:  economic, environmental  and  social sustainability .”
 
Let’s see what that looks like.
 
Our meeting took place at First Green Bank in Winter Park. Their building boasts recycled flooring materials, sustainable bamboo walls, LED lighting and energy powered by solar panels. Their lending policies encourage green buildings and solar panels, and their “First Green Foundation” supports local agriculture. Patrons can grab an organic cookie and fruit from their refreshment bar.
 
Green Comes in Many Colors is “a new future model for the way businesses should conduct themselves in the world.” Committed to recycling materials that would normally be burned or sent to landfills, this company collects unused paper of all kinds from printers and other suppliers. Once sorted, the paper goes to third world countries where women transform the paper into beautiful beads. Employment has lifted families out of poverty; and as the women share their wages with their villages, wells are dug and schools are built. In short, lives are transformed as well as paper.
 
GoGreenElectrolyzer.com- A consulting company that works with businesses to eliminate dangerous chemicals and replace them with safe electroyzed water systems.  These on-site generators produce a cleaner and sanitizer so safe the principles drink the solution and spray it in their eyes.  They state they have never installed a system that has had a payback of more than one year.
 
 
Sustainability at home
 
Well, I figure if businesses can be sustainable, so can homes and families.
 
Here are just a few ways we and our families can begin to adopt a lifestyle that ensures that the next generations will have a safe, healthy environment.
 
·         Recycle. If your community, business or church doesn’t have a recycling program, start one!
·         Reuse! The days when our grandmothers would rinse plastic bags and hang them on the clothesline to dry may be long gone; but there are still lots of things we throw away which can be reused or repurposed. The Internet will give you tons of resources, from Martha Stewart to Pinterest to the Huffington Post. Goodwill and Salvation Army love donations, too, of course.
·         Whenever possible, buy products made from sustainable materials. For you pet owners, you’ll find collars and scratching posts made from hemp, toys and bedding made from organic cotton or wool, bedding stuffed with recycled plastic bottles.
·         Unplug electrical appliances when not in use. Set your air-conditioning and heat a few degrees. Surely we can all adjust to being a bit warmer in the summer and a bit cooler in the winter!
·         Avoid air fresheners , virtually all of which contain toxic phthalates and other petrochemicals that can harm your family and the environment.
·         Avoid vinyl , as it, too, contains harmful phthalates that can be inhaled (remember the smell of that new shower curtain?) or ingested (what child doesn’t put toys in her mouth?).
·         Ferret out toxic chemicals in your home! You’ll find them under your kitchen sink, in your bathroom and laundry room, even in your nursery. Even products that claim to be “green” and “natural” may not be at all (there’s no legal definition for either of those terms). Check out the Environmental Working Group for their toxicity ratings on hundreds of products; and Women’s Voices for the Earth for recipes for homemade cleaning products.
 
Whether at the global or local level, whether in the community or the home, sustainability takes commitment, time, effort, and ingenuity.  The payback is both immediate and long term, and takes the form of conserving natural resources, improving lives, strengthening families, reducing our dependence on toxic chemicals, promoting small business, and preserving the beauty of our world for generations to come.
 
To explore membership in the Green Chamber of Commerce, or to start a local chapter, go to www.usgreenchamber.com.