corporate social responsibility, sustainability, go green, CSR

Takeaways from the B corp champions retreat in new orleans

At Tech Networks of Boston, we strive to do good in the world and make a difference through the way we do business. Our founder, Susan Labandibar, started Tech Networks with the hope of engaging in a different kind of capitalism by doing business with mission-driven organizations and non-profits, offering value through our responsible business practices and dedication to making a difference.

As the Sustainability Administrator at Tech Networks of Boston, I was privileged to represent the company at my first ever B Corp Champions Retreat in New Orleans this past month. Tech Networks is both a legal Benefit Corporation and a Certified B Corp, so it is important to us to connect with other like-minded businesses as we strive to constantly adapt and do better. I got to connect with so many wonderful and like-minded people and it was simply awe inspiring. Everyone was so eager to share ideas and support each other with resources, ideas, and warm words.

I enjoyed a number of breakout sessions, and in each one, I had a different takeaway.  The one that will have an immediate and direct impact on my life and work was the "Is Recycling a Myth" session lead by Andy Keller, CEO and President of ChicoBag and Matt Wynkoop, Director of Sales at World Centric.

The session began with overviewing the issues with our current system and mindset, including the fact that many products are designed specifically to be thrown away (packaging, single-use containers, plastic utensils, straws, etc...).

Andy and Matt pointed out that plastic NEVER goes away – less than 5% of plastic is recycled and most ends up in our oceans creating "plastic smog" that is as hard to clean-up from the oceans as smog is to clean from our skies. 

smog

Andy then told us that the average consumer adds to this problem in small ways, which overtime build into a much larger problem. Every plastic fork tossed in the trash, every coffee cup thrown away, and every single plastic bag used add up over the course of the year. The average consumer uses over 500 plastic bags in a year and if you are wondering what all of those bags would look like if they came to life and harassed us for our wasteful ways, look no further.

But, there is hope - I had the opportunity to talk with the people around me and they had some amazing ideas! 

First off, I am going to continue my "Trash Talk with Cissa" sessions at my workplace Tech Networks of Boston and hope to expand it even further to get us to our goal of zero waste. 

Secondly, I learned that Hawai’i has implemented a zero-Styrofoam initiative, helping local businesses use "1s, 2s, and Compostables" to stop a horde of take-out containers from ending up in the landfill each year. This gave me some great ideas for trying to get something similar passed in Boston. 

I also got the idea of hosting "Zero Waste Events" where a company partners with a local non-profit in order to promote an event that doesn't have a negative impact on the environment. Some of my colleagues have hosted these events where they had a local organization walk party-goers through waste disposal and educate them on waste generation and recycling while they toss their plates and food from the event. 

My final take-away was the idea that my company could pick a high-use waste product and decide to ban it. Maybe we make Styrofoam coffee cups persona non grata in our office, and each person who uses one at work has to put it in special area in order to make everyone wary of having to walk to the special area to dispose of it. This kind of action helps to build accountability and a group mentality that this kind of waste is bad.  

Overall, I am so excited to be a disrupter in my own circle and implement habits and ideas to make the world a better place for everyone.

Cissa Dieleman 

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