Last week the Regional Carbon Initiative team, the people that help you succeed with carbon accounting, provided the opportunity to expand the horizons for businesses who are on a mission to improve their sustainability repertoire. Hosted at Wilfrid Laurier University as a small breakfast event, Sustainable Waterloo Region gave members a look at ‘Sustainability Beyond Carbon.’ This event had a few goals to achieve – to show member organisations that there are more ways than one to be an exemplary business; to allow businesses who don’t have the ability to support carbon accounting to see other options that might be much more suited to their business space; and to highlight some key facts – sustainability can be both environmentally, holistically AND financially rewarding.

At every event our sponsors are highlighted; because of them, we are able to successfully host events that members can benefit from. And having Bullfrog Power helping us offset our carbon, allowing the event to be carbon neutral, is an extra comfort walking in to one of these events. So to the sustainability supporters – thank you for helping us achieve some great events!

The first speaker was Liz Benneian, the founder of Ontario Zero Waste Coalition, who came to talk about – you guessed it – waste and its appropriate disposal. She started her presentation by highlighting that waste is present in every environmental issue. Liz provides information on Bill 151- a bill written that encourages the development of a circular economy. This would heavily encourage the re-use of waste via proper diversion and disposal, so as to boost the economy and the well-being of the environment. Liz shared that waste diversion adds ten times are more jobs than waste disposal, and waste is only considered ‘waste’ if we throw everything away together without separating it based on material components. Taking the time to ensure our waste goes in the right pile can guarantee that recyclable materials will have a next life, and that organics will go into the right space. Liz, known as an advocate for the discouragement of incinerators, indicated that simply ‘burning everything’ is not the ultimate solution and the millions of dollars set aside for developing incinerators should be utilised elsewhere. This presentation gave some financial and environmental evidence for why we should take a serious look at our waste and work towards better managing the afterlife of products that we use.

The second presentation was carried out by Eric Meliton from Partners in Project Green, who was keen to share success stories he was involved with in fulfilling water stewardship efficiency. Eric was able to focus on the holistic approach his company took in creating a storm water management system for Calstone Inc., factoring in the business portfolio of the company, its legacy, and its desire to be more environmentally aware. A beautiful pond and walkway was installed that not only provided a space for employees to enjoy, but also for the storm water to be properly utilised and stored. Another leading example from Eric’s team was a green roof developed for the Molson beer plant, which incorporated a red leaf that would catch the eye of air travellers, avoiding expensive billboard advertising costs at the airport itself.

Together Liz and Eric complimented each others presentations by highlighting how sustainability can bring forward additional benefits to a company, with free advertising, communal sharing space, financial savings, and job creations being just a few benefits outlined. Theses talks were able to put our waste and water usage into perspective and have us thinking – what can we do in our business that can both benefit the environment and ourselves? What other sources of pollution can we look towards improving? It’s definitely something to think about as there is more to it than meets the eye.