Local sustainability experts gathered in Haggar University Center last Friday to share best practices for their businesses with a room full of professionals, students and faculty in what was the first meeting of the Business & Society Network, a joint effort between the Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business and sustainability consulting firm EarthPeople.
"Let us be the knowledge bank about socially responsible businesses," said Greg Bell, assistant professor in the Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business, as he introduced the first panel.
"Our future leaders for sustainability are sitting in this room right now," said Anna Clark, president of EarthPeople, LLC.
First up was Nathan Loftice, senior manager for sustainability and environmental affairs at FedEx Office, who was happy to be at UD, although tired.
"We are Santa's elves this time of year, in case you don't realize that," Loftice joked.
Loftice's main point was that sustainability makes good business sense.
"We're not in it for the PR, it helps us run our business more efficiently," he said.
FedEx was the first transportation company to set goals for reducing aviation emissions back in 2008. Recently, they have set themselves the goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent by 2020.
Next to speak was Nelly Rocha Andresen, vice president of quality, environment, health and safety and senior corporate counsel for eRecyclingCorps, the world's leading trade-in operator of mobile devices.
Andresen detailed some of the pollution and waste currently caused by mobile devices. Mobile devices are responsible for 20 percent of the toxins in landfills, while only taking up 4 percent of landfill space.
"The average lifespan of a mobile device is seven years, while most people only keep a phone for 21 months," said Andresen, who uses a cell phone recycled by eRecyclingCorps.
Garrett Boone, co-founder and chairman emeritus of The Container Store, then introduced Treehouse, an Austin-based sustainable home improvement store. Sustainability is a developing market that will not simply present people with opportunities, he argued. Instead, it is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to create that market.
PHOTO: From left Clark, Loftice and Boone.