Seeing Oppoertunity in Change

The following is from our March 2017 DestinationGreen Newsletter

stephen ashkinThings are changing so fast in Washington that it’s almost impossible to predict what will happen next. Many are uncertain of what direction the new administration will take on a variety of issues, including sustainability and the environment.

For those who support a Greener, more sustainable world, there is understandable concern . . . but we should recognize that there is also growing opportunity.

Now, before going forward, I must repeat, as I have in the past, that I do not take a political stand on issues—pro, con, or indifferent. The goal of DestinationGreen has always been to educate and inspire, and sometimes this is even more necessary when things are changing around us.

So moving forward, what should we do?

First, we must view change – whether in Washington or in our own lives – as an opportunity. We are always going to be dealing with some sort of change in our lives, in what we believe in and support. Perhaps these quotes will help us better understand this concept:

  • “The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings.” —Kakuzo Okakura, a Japanese scholar
  • “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” -—attributed to Charles Darwin
  • “When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.” —Ben Franklin

So for us focused on the health of our environment, the first thing I suggest we do now is what we have always done: continue to realize that protecting human health and the health of our planet is the only way to ensure that future generations will have a healthy world to live in.

As to ways to accomplish this, I have recently written to articles discussing ways in which building service contractors and carpet cleaning technicians who have embraced Green Cleaning can step up to the plate and educate their customers of its importance. These steps can also apply to many others in and outside the professional cleaning industry.

My advice to them includes the following:

  • Create a PowerPoint presentation to make sure customers are fully aware of what Green Cleaning is all about.
  • Include in the presentation information on how far we have come when it comes to Green Cleaning. Twenty years ago, many of the cleaning solutions available included ingredients that were carcinogens, reproductive toxins, and hormone disruptors and caused allergic reactions and even triggered asthma attacks in children. Most of those ingredients are no longer used and have been replaced with effective, cost-effective, environmentally preferable alternatives.
  • Show how school attendance improves when Green Cleaning products and strategies are in place and how, according to a University of Chicago Study, “students . . . with improved attendance . . . from fifth through eighth grade have better on-track rates, higher grades, and higher test scores in high school.”
  • Add information on how this enhanced performance has been replicated in the workplace.
  • Present the cost-saving benefits now being reported by all types of organizations, including jansan distributors, that have now incorporated sustainability initiatives—such as reducing waste, recycling, and focusing on such things as reducing energy and water consumption—into their operations.
  • Show how the jansan and carpet cleaning industries are beginning to realize the importance of paying fair wages to their employees and providing healthcare and other benefits. This is a key part of sustainability, and it has helped many in the industry attract and retain much better workers than ever before.

What I am suggesting is that leadership in the Green and sustainability movements is now in our hands. We, each and every one of us, are the new leaders. We may not be able to control what happens in the government arena when it comes to these issues, but there is much we can do to keep the Green and sustainability alive and well in our own organizations.

And if we ever need a reminder of how important it is to keep moving forward on Green and sustainability issues, just take a look at the young people all around you. That should be all the reminder you need.

Stephen Ashkin