Ways Organizations Can Develop Sustainability Initiatives

Los Angeles, CA – More organizations, including those in the professional cleaning  and building industries, are starting to adopt sustainabilityPR-AshkinGroup-StephenAshkin_360x235 programs and initiatives, according to Stephen Ashkin, the professional cleaning industry’s leading advocate for sustainability.

A sustainability initiative is one in which an organization’s emphasis shifts from short-term economic gains to a long-term approach with a balance among economic, social, and environmental considerations.

Ashkin acknowledges that the first steps in the process can be some of the most difficult. However, he says, “There are ways organizations can make the process easier and help reach their sustainability goals much faster.”

For instance, Ashkin suggests that organizations look to similar companies that have already started sustainability programs. “Very often, they will help guide you through the forest.”

Ashkin’s other suggestions include the following:

Hire a consultant. While large corporations often hire a chief sustainability officer, a smaller company can do very well working with a consultant.

Be prepared for some tough questions. Stakeholders are going to want to know why the company should be undertaking such an initiative, along with the return on the investment.

Get the data. Find out where things stand now. “For instance, how can you say you are using less energy, water, or fuel today if you don’t know what you were using two years ago? Have a benchmark to build from.”

Identify goals and objectives. “Initially the goal may just be to reduce energy consumption, but as the definition of sustainability implies, sustainability initiatives become a core part of an organization’s entire business model.”
Get everyone involved. Sustainability is an attitude. “Because sustainability initiatives can define a company and its brand, it requires everyone in the organization to be on board.”

Choose the right vendors. Select vendors that share the company’s sustainability goals. “With everyone including vendors sharing the same mind-set, it is much easier for the program to succeed.”

Always look for improvement. After a few months, step back and evaluate what has been accomplished. “Remember, sustainability initiatives are a journey. There is no end point.”


Sustainability Reporting Trivia:  The first sustainable reports, then known as environmental reports, were published in the late 1980s by U.S. chemical companies because they had serious image problems at that time.

About Stephen Ashkin and The Ashkin Group
Stephen P. Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group, a consulting firm specializing in Greening the cleaning industry, and CEO of Sustainability Dashboard Tools, which offers a cloud-based dashboard that allows organizations to measure, report and improve their sustainability efforts. He is also coauthor of both The Business of Green Cleaning and Green Cleaning for Dummies.
Ashkin has worked in the cleaning industry since 1981 and has held senior management positions in leading consumer and commercial product companies. He began his work on Green Cleaning in 1990 and today is thought of as the “father of Green cleaning”. For more information, visit www.AshkinGroup.com.