Local Businesses Building Sustainable Futures

In today’s world, environmental degradation is a huge concern that we have to take control of. Big contributors to these environmental damages are the businesses that we rely upon to produce the products that we need to function with our daily activities. Sustainable practices are starting to become a hot commodity not only locally in Bloomington-Normal, but nationally and worldwide. Since I go to school at Illinois State University, I’ll focus on the local part of sustainable practices instead of getting into the big picture of the worldwide stuff.

By having the Office of Sustainability on campus, Illinois State is starting to get the word out to the student population. The staff and interns are passionate about what they do, and it shows with the increasing awareness of sustainability throughout the campus and the city.  A huge breakthrough for business majors in particular at Illinois State is with the new minor, Business Environment and Sustainability that just started this semester. Now business students get the education of how a sustainable approach can not only help prevent the destruction of the environment that we live in, but also help save money for these particular businesses.

To go along with the Office of Sustainability, a huge contributor in helping the local communities in Bloomington-Normal is the Illinois Green Business Association. According to their website, there are currently fifteen business that have been “green certified” with the most recent being the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel and Conference Center and many more in process. To further the proof of how much of an impact the ILGBA has had, an article in Greenbiz ranked them second behind the California Green Business Program for the Green Seal Degree of Trust.  With the help of the Illinois Green Business Association, our community and the surrounding communities are taking necessary steps to becoming energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

Although there are many so-called “green businesses” out there, consumers have to be careful when searching for sustainable products that they want to purchase. Since becoming a “green business” is such a hot topic right now, greenwashing has become a relatively large problem. If you don’t know what greenwashing is, it is the act of businesses promoting themselves as being environmentally friendly when they really aren’t. This is an attempt to trick consumers into believing they are environmentally friendly which can sway them into buying the products or services that they provide. With a little research into how a company performs their daily activities, you will be able to see if they do or don’t have an environmentally friendly approach.

With the widespread topic of sustainability occurring, companies all over have either accepted sustainable practices or preached they have. Locally, many of our businesses have taken the step to becoming sustainable. While some have completed the step, others are in the process, which is an encouraging sign for the future of our area. If the businesses around us become sustainable entities, hopefully the people in the community will follow. According to Mahatma Gandhi, “the future depends on what we do today,” so hopefully we are doing the right thing.

–Aaron Schmelzle

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