Sustainability…A responsibility

May 01, 2009

I attended the "Embracing a Green Future" conference for manufacturers in Grand Rapids hosted by The Right Place, Inc – a regional nonprofit economic development organization. The key takeaways were pragmatic balanced with optimism.

Gary Hirshberg of the yummy organic Stonyfield Farm yogurt started 25 years ago with 7 cows and turned it into a $300million a year business. Hirshberg calls on individuals to realize their power to effect change in the marketplace while proving that environmental commitment makes for a healthier planet and a healthier bottom line. He left us with evidence that business can save the planet, while simultaneously delivering higher growth and superior profits.

Then there were the breakout sessions and workshops on Lean and Green, Green Marketing, Carbon Management, Green Materials and Chemistry. Throughout the discussions it was apparent that West Michigan manufacturers are embracing the power sustainable practices.

The closing keynote was our very own Amway President, Doug DeVos who hit on three key points. 1) Identify your personal philosophy and awareness on sustainability 2) Put them into practice through targets, objectives and measures and 3) the marketplace in the future will demand that sustainability be a part of a company’s corporate social responsibility. So get out in front of it, be the best, and engage in the process including the development on good public policy. His talk was featured in the Grand Rapids Press.

Walking away from the conference along the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids, I felt ever grateful to be a part of West Michigan and confident that Amway and West Michigan manufactures are ready to lead in to the future caring about people, the planet and the impact of the products they manufacture.

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