At a breakout session during the 3rd Annual Local First Sustainable Business Conference several local businesses discussed how they use sustainable practices. Sean Ellis from Southland Auto Wash, Kyle Zimdar from Frames Unlimited, and Rachel Zylstra from Hop Scotch Children’s Store were the panelists for the session.
The definition of sustainability has been evolving, especially in regards to the business world. The Iroquois Nation defined sustainability as considering the seventh generation in all deliberations. A contemporary definition involves three pillars to sustainability when it comes to business: social, environmental, and economical. All three areas must be met in order for a business to be sustainable.
The panelists discussed how their businesses reflect sustainable practices. Recycling was a major part of each businesses idea of sustainability. At Frames Unlimited unused materials, that would usually be thrown away, are turned into a new line of products. This practice reduces waste and saves money. Hop Scotch focuses on providing products that are made from materials that will last for a long time and will be able to be recycled or reused. Southland Auto Wash recycles the water they use so that less water is taken from the city water system while more water is used to wash the car. This provides better car washing services while saving money and reducing waste.
Each of the three businesses pointed out how small environmental practices quickly effect the bottom line. Turning waste material into a new product, or managing materials wisely so that there is little waste, quickly saves money and makes it possible to invest in more expensive, higher quality products. However, not all customers are at the same point of understanding. A business needs to keep the needs of their customers in mind. A business that is too green may not be truly sustainable because their products will only be attractive to a small group of people. Education becomes an important part of the business so that customers can be taught about what kinds of products are the best for the environment.