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Sustainability and My Grandma

I know what you’re thinking.

Oh no, Tony is going to write a blog entry about Sustainability. You know. The hottest buzz word being thrown around every industry. From building engineering to seafood processing, we are no doubt seeing more on this topic then anyone could possibly keep up with. And for a while, I admit, I was actually trying to keep up! Until one evening while driving home from my daughter’s dance recital, it occurred to me that Sustainability is really all about Simplicity! Heck, it is really about my late Grandma Mary!

Now she was all about simplicity. I figure if we all practiced some of the things she did, every day, in our operations, we would achieve a level of “greenability” that even my main man Kermit The Frog would be proud of.

What I am saying is that my Grandma was ahead of her time. Yes! “Cutting Edge” Mary. Now if you follow some of Mary’s practices below and apply them to your operations, I am betting you will not only earn some LEED points but you will likely save money!

Before I present the list, let me say first I mean no disrespect to all the experts out there. Listening to folks speak about LEED building design, alternative fuels, and reduced carbon footprints, all makes good sense to me. I am merely a student and do not claim to know all there is to know.
However, what I am proposing to you is to think about sustainability as things we may have done at one time, but now, unfortunately, due to an assortment of reasons, we have made business (and life), way too complex. So to get us back to a simpler and more SUSTAINABLE time, I offer you my Grandma’s top 5 best practices to help your operation become more “green”.
#1 Waste Not Want Not – Mary made things from scratch. She made her own stock for soup and utilized leftovers from prior days. Nothing was thrown away. Who could afford to waste food? No convenience soups here in expensive plastic packaging. Leftover bread? Ah, that was the secret to the meatballs and croutons for the salad.

#2 Shop locally – Mary bought fresh ingredients from the local market. Often she walked to the “pork store” or would send yours truly (on my Royce Union Sting Ray bicycle with the “banana” seat) with a short list. Hey, how is that for reducing “food miles” and carbon emissions?

#3 Grow your own – Sure! Mary kept a garden of fresh tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, and even delicious eggplant. She never bought herbs because she grew her own! Mint, Basil, and Rosemary were never more than a short walk into the back yard. Today we read about all the trendy Chefs who grow their own outside their restaurants. Well kudos to all of you and please continue, but cutting edge Mary has you beat by about 40 years! ūüôā

#4 Composting – Coffee grinds were placed in old coffee “tins” and the sprinkled into the garden beds. Egg shells were broken up and placed around plants to protect them from insects and slugs.

#5 It has an off switch, use it! – Now since Mary owned the house heaven help you if you burned too many kilowatts or sucked up more than your share of “therms”.¬† She was not only the Chef,¬† she was also the building engineer. She always made sure we turned off lights, radios, unplugged kitchen appliances, and kept that thermostat at 68 degrees Fahrenheit or below.

Well there you have it. The top 5 strategies to improving the sustainability of your operation. Straight from the master of simplicity herself, my Grandma Mary. Oh, how we all miss you Grandma!

So please take these 5 strategies and think about how you might apply them to your operations. Think about other simple strategies like these and discuss them with your teams. Let them tell you about the “green” ideas they have for their own jobs. After all they are the experts in what they do.¬† If you can, please share these ideas with me by commenting on this blog. I would love to hear about your successes and your challenges.

Oh, and if you get overloaded or confused just think of Grandma Mary and everything will seem a lot simpler. I guarantee it!



July 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment