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Becoming A Good Steward

As sustainability becomes ever more important in our daily lives, four leading in-plants reveal both their parent organizations’ environmental initiatives and their own.

December 2009 By Vic Nathan Barkin
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YEARS AGO, when prepping for a week-long campout on a ranch north of Flagstaff, Ariz., some buddies and I hauled out truckloads of old cowboy-camp debris that had accumulated over the past 100 years in an effort to clean up the area. That land was owned by the then-governor of Arizona's family. The governor's mother, Viola Babbitt, came out afterwards and declared us "good stewards of the land." Her avowal still resonates with me.

As I travel the country in my consulting business, most folks seem to believe in doing the right thing. The grand epiphany for this year is that action is required. Sustainability today has everything to do with being a good steward within your organization. 2010 looks to be a year of adoption, enactment and of taking responsibility—stewardship.

To that end, I asked four leading in-plant managers for their perspectives on two basic questions. Before reading their answers, think about what yours would be.

1. Over the past year (or more), what have been your parent organization's environmental initiatives, directives and/or mandates, and how has your department reacted, integrated or assisted in those efforts?

2. What have been your own departments' environmental and social initiatives over the past year and what goals do you have, officially published or not, for the coming year?

The in-plants I chose to ask these questions to reside within organizations that already have a strong corporate or governmental stewardship model in place. Their answers are enlightening.

Briggs & Stratton

Graphic Services is an integrated component of its parent corporation. The in-plant is led by Manager Deb Pavletich (also president of the In-Plant Printing and Mailing Association). On a corporate level, Briggs & Stratton deploys programs that demonstrate its holistic approach to sustainability and corporate responsibility that transcends its role as the world's largest producer of small engines and outdoor power equipment. The company engages in a range of activities to help sustain the well-being of everyone whose lives it touches. Its three-pillar approach takes on complete ownership of business excellence, community support and environmental responsibility.

Among the proudest corporate accomplishments are a reduction of company-wide energy usage by 14.9 million kilowatt hours over the last two years and an annual reduction of the company's overall greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 5 percent. The company recently signed a pledge with the U.S. Department of Energy as part of its "Save Now Energy Leaders" program to reduce its energy consumption by 25 percent over the next 10 years. Briggs & Stratton also sponsors a company-wide sustainability/energy conservation fair designed to help employees become more environmentally responsible in their personal lives.



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