Though the subject likely hasn’t crossed your mind (or if it did, it was a briefly whimsical medley of random thoughts during your R.E.M. cycle), Sustainability planning is becoming a paramount feature of every company’s long term business model. For those of you still awake, you may be wondering what sustainability planning actually is. To paraphrase from the E.P.A’s definition; Sustainability is survival and well-being depending on our natural environment, either directly or indirectly. By that definition sustainability planning means taking care of the environment in which we live by creating as little waste as possible. With CO2 emissions reaching catastrophic heights, polar ice caps melting by the day, and the accidental creation of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch it’s now more important than ever for businesses to have an effective plan to diminish the proverbial load on the camel’s back (maybe whale in this case) as much as possible. Even though each company will need a different plan catered to their specific needs, there is a general path to follow when creating your own sustainability plan.

The first step is to develop a goal for each of the different “opportunities” you have decided to address inside your business. It could be as simple as setting up recycling receptacles throughout your workplace, or as elaborate as designing your next facility made entirely from repurposed soda bottles. Whatever it may be, the key is to have a goal in place before moving forward with your plan.

The second step is to outline your goal with steps that will need to be taken in order to achieve it. You will need to brainstorm and come up with different strategies for each goal you want implemented. Some goals may require more steps in their strategy than others (for instance: the soda bottle structure would need a tad bit more planning than the recycling containers), but once they’re in place you can begin the next step.

The third step is to decide who will be taking charge over these set goals. It could be someone in your own company, it could be a third party that specializes in implementing these types of plans for companies, or it could even be members of the community that want to do their part to help out. Whoever it may be, the assigned leader will be able to work with the company to make sure the goals will be met.
The fourth step is to set checkpoints along the way so you can assess your successes (or failures) and find out what needs to be changed, and what needs to be continued on. Not everything will go according to the plan at first, and it’s important to be able to track your progress in order to keep the end in sight. You could do this on a monthly, quarterly, or even yearly basis as long as you have certain milestones in place to prepare for.

By now you’re probably too excited to continue reading, and have already left your desk to go start on your own sustainability plan. For everyone who was able to contain themselves for the final summation, there are many different ways to plan your company’s sustainability. Some companies may start smaller than others, but getting started is the first real step. Though the prospect of a runaway greenhouse effect, permanent summers across the globe, and perpetually developing tropical islands made purely from garbage are intriguing, to say the least, perhaps the continuation of a cohabitation between humans and the environment is even better.