We have been hearing the saying “go green” for a while, but it is now circulating more often as sustainability and recycling have become popular themes.
There are fliers around campus and recycling bins in every building encouraging students to “go green.” But there are more proactive ways to understand what this means and how to actually make a change.
Cal Poly’s business club Net Impact is beginning to build itself as it aims to inspire and empower students about corporate responsibility and green business.
“At the current time, (Net Impact) is focusing on efforts to help fellow students not only understand the benefits of sustainable living, but also realize that through their own actions they can make an impact,” Net Impact’s faculty adviser Norm Borin said.
Net Impact goes beyond the Cal Poly campus as it is an international, non-profit organization. The Cal Poly chapter was started in 2008 by a group of students and is just one of 208 chapters, according to club president and economics senior Megan Bauer.
“We’re a growing chapter, so it’s kind of more in the what we could be stage now,” Bauer said.
The club’s vice president of membership and industrial technology sophomore Christine Liu said people are usually only aimed at making a profit in their jobs. Net Impact’s goal is to get people to look beyond money and see that they can be environmentally cautious, while still benefiting financially .
Leading companies now understand they can save costs and make profits by focusing on reducing environmental harm, according to Borin.
“I believe we all realize we have one planet available to us,” Borin said. “Most businesses now realize that there are a limited amount of resources and that these resources are often critical inputs to their operations. This requires them to consider the environmental impact to ensure those resources will exist in the future.”
Greening a business can involve anything from energy conservation in the building to ethical sourcing for materials of products being produced, Liu said.
There are many ways a company can take charge to offset harm on the environment. Companies that participate in sustainable thinking take into account their supply chain and its environmental impacts.
“A supply chain consists of all the members involved in the extraction, production, delivery, use and disposal of all the products and services we consume on the planet,” Borin said. “If the members work together they can significantly reduce the collective impact of the chain.”
Product design is another area where sustainability comes into play, minimizing harm.
Borin explained a product designed by students that combined a shower and a washing machine into one unit. The water used during a person’s shower was filtered and passed along into a washing machine, which then used the same water. After this water was used in the washing machine, it was re-filtered and could be used again for either the shower or laundry.
An action taken by Net Impact to green businesses has been going into companies and offering them a free energy audit. This year, Net Impact did this for the Holiday Inn Express and is actively continuing to pursue it with more local businesses.
Net Impact supports many companies that are conscious of the environment. The group of companies includes: IBM, which aims to make its existing products more efficient for the environment, Feelgoodz LLC, which markets natural and recyclable footwear, and Honest Tea, which promotes healthy and organic beverages.
Bauer said the club has given her the opportunity to be one of 3,000 attendees who are all passionate about using business for good work. To become part of this family, Net Impact has biweekly meetings on Monday nights at 6 p.m. in the business building.