Author Archives: Derrick Mains

Derrick Mains

About Derrick Mains

Derrick Mains is the CEO of GreenNurture, the corporate sustainability software company. GreenNurture helps companies incorporate the value of sustainability, catalyzing corporate culture and harnessing the collective intelligence of employees to drive greater long-term financial, social and environmental performance. Mains has a deep understanding of Corporate Social Responsibility, having been involved in recycling, sustainability and product stewardship initiatives for the Fortune 1000. His efforts have been seen on more than five billion consumer products globally. Mains is also the host of “Your Triple Bottom Line,” a national green talk radio show that is focused on the business of sustainability. (www.your3bl.com) Mains can be reached at Derrick@greennurture.com and followed on Twitter at @enviralmentalst. www.greennurture.com Incorporating Sustainability: One Employee, One Idea, One Action at a Time.

Future Generations Go Green

The American Dream Reborn Through Sustainability

When my father’s grandparents immigrated to America, they had one objective: to give their children, and some day their grandchildren, a better life. They worked hard and sacrificed to instill the desire to make thing better for the next generation, my grandparents.

Maybe you can remember the sacrifices you saw growing up, how past generations saved money and withheld pleasure from themselves in order to make sure the next generations strived.

That generation is long gone and has been replaced with an American culture that is more focused on the here and now. We don’t think as much about the future, particularly one that doesn’t include us. Today, we look out more for our own best interest. Yes, of course, we want our children to have a better life than us, that is, as long as our lives are exceptionally good.

In 1928, Herbert Hoover was elected president based on the promise of prosperity. “A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage” boasted the campaign slogan, and people lined up at voting booths. Think about that for a moment – to our ancestors the thought of owning a car and having a good meal seemed like a dream! Times have changed.

Our society is in debt, and I am not just talking about our financial woes. We are borrowing resources from future generations: their trees, water, air, flora, fauna. And we have no plan or intention to pay it back, leaving the bill and a big mess to our children and their children.

So the question is: How do we deal with environmental issues that will exist beyond our allotted time here on earth, affecting generations that may never even know our names but will remember our water bottles?

Issues like global warming, pollution, loss of biodiversity and an economy based on carbon will have a much larger effect on our ancestors than it ever will on us, and the solutions for those issues will take generations to fix. Weaning ourselves from carbon is not as easy as electric cars and solar panels, carbon-based fuels are used for much more than powering our cars and heating and cooling our homes. Plastic, makeup, diapers, medical equipment, roads, computers, nearly everything you have in your home in some way or another is connected to these products. Our demand continues to grow and the technology to replace oil, coal and natural gas will take time to evolve and take even longer to meet our growing needs.

So what can we do? First, we need to start thinking beyond our own lifetime and the impact that our actions today will have on future generations and take personal responsibility for those actions. It is a seedy picture of those 25 generations from now weeding through mounds of our plastic, living amongst a significantly smaller circle of species, and enduring famine and disease as a result of decisions made by us today.

Second, we need to demand accountability of our government and the companies we support, asking them to create positions and departments that represent the rights of future generations. In addition, our justice department needs to aggressively defend the rights of those inheriting this planet.

Finally, we need to reconnect to our instinct of sacrificing to create a better world for our children.

To our children, our impact will not be taught from history books but seen in the evidence we left on the planet we lived.

Greening Your Business Doesn't Have to Be Scary

Risky Business: Greening Your Business Doesn’t Have To Be Scary

Over the past few months, an addition to the three P’s of sustainability has appeared: peril. Where in the past the reasons for going green were improvements in people, planet and profits, it is now evident that sustainability is as much about the survival of the planet as it is about the survival of business.

You might not be in a business associated with as much risk as the oil industry, but that doesn’t mean you are off the hook: Risks are everywhere.

Such industries as electronics, bottled water and even the yellow pages have come under extreme pressure from government and environmental groups for their end-of-life product stewardship, impact on local people where the raw materials are sourced, the process and people used to recycle these items, their manufacturing and supply chain emissions, and even the sheer existence of their products in the marketplace.

So how do you mitigate risks before they become perilous issues that jeopardize the future of your company?

First, take a long-term view of your business. Today so much attention is focused on quarterly earnings that it is difficult to see where a business is going and what pitfalls may be ahead. Take a hard look at your products: Are they the same product that you expect to be selling in 10 years? What about them could cause risk to you in the future? What about those products might cause harm to the planet, people (your employees and customers) or might otherwise put you in harm’s way? And finally, how are you pitching your product to the market?

Green claims are one area where many businesses fall into trouble. Abraham Lincoln famously said, “You can fool all of the people some of the time; you can fool some of the people all of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.”

Every day it seems more and more companies are making green claims, some of which are criminal, but most fall in along the lines of ignorance.

Making a green claim is really tough. To really create something that is green you need to consider who, what, where, when, why and how it was manufactured, sourced, shipped, recycled, sold, reclaimed and what it is made of. Just because a product does something good doesn’t make it green.

Consumers are getting smarter and less tolerant of companies that are making misleading claims. If you want to find out how prevalent risks are in the market, look for chatter about you and your competitionon sites like Twitter, Facebook, Yelp and Foursquare. See for yourself what people are saying.
Many small businesses are surprised at what is being said about them on mediums that they never thought of using.

Most importantly, take a look at your business and the people that comprise it; ask them where the risks are. Your people likely know the things that are being overlooked or done improperly. Not only are there risks in not correcting these problems, but an even greater risk comes when an employee leaves your employment and decides to share damaging details with the public.

Are you part of a company where ignorance is bliss or where knowledge is power?

Green News Roundup- Helping The Environment From The B Side

What do “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor, “Pink Cadillac” by Bruce Springsteen and “Maggie May” by Rod Stewart all have in common? These classic tunes all came from the B-side.

When an artist released a single, there were two sides: the A-side, the assumed hit, and the B-side, the filler track(s). And even though the songs mentioned above were found on the B-side, they went from obscurity to stardom.

So how can the B-side help the environment? Well, using the other side of paper can make a huge difference. Especially since the average office worker in the U.S. uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website. 

By using only one side of paper, we are never giving the B-side a chance. And if others had overlooked the other side, it’s possible that we would never have heard “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers or “Don’t Worry Baby” by the Beach Boys on the radio or at all for that matter.

So “B”-fore you use another sheet, get “Into the Groove” (Madonna) and write or print on the B-side. It is not only better for the environment, it will save your company money on both sides of the waste equation (buy less and dispose of less), but it will also save ink and energy. Who’s to say the next big hit for your company won’t come from an idea on the B-side?

So tell your staff that it’s time to discover the B-Side!” Besides saving money, it will have the office supply store singing “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” (a Hank Williams B-side hit).

Source: http://www.epa.gov/waste/conserve/materials/paper/faqs.htm


When an artist released a single, there were two sides: the A-side, the assumed hit, and the B-side, the filler track(s). And even though the songs mentioned above were found on the B-side, they went from obscurity to stardom.

So how can the B-side help the environment? Well, using the other side of paper can make a huge difference. Especially since the average office worker in the U.S. uses 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency website. 

By using only one side of paper, we are never giving the B-side a chance. And if others had overlooked the other side, it’s possible that we would never have heard “Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers or “Don’t Worry Baby” by the Beach Boys on the radio or at all for that matter.

So “B”-fore you use another sheet, get “Into the Groove” (Madonna) and write or print on the B-side. It is not only better for the environment, it will save your company money on both sides of the waste equation (buy less and dispose of less), but it will also save ink and energy. Who’s to say the next big hit for your company won’t come from an idea on the B-side?

So tell your staff that it’s time to discover the B-Side!” Besides saving money, it will have the office supply store singing “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” (a Hank Williams B-side hit).

Source: http://www.epa.gov/waste/conserve/materials/paper/faqs.htm


Businesses Can Save Money And Resources By Taking A Closer Look At Their Trash

Adolph Coors of Coors Brewing Co. famously said, “All waste is lost profit.” I doubt he said that solely because he cared for the environment, but it’s the truth: Waste is a waste. You pay for it on both ends — to get it and to get rid of it.

Not many of us think of our waste this way. We think of it as something of little value that we throw away and forget about. Yet what we are throwing away could be an opportunity to save or even make money.

In the market today, there is a lot of buzz about “zero waste.” I have been involved in a number of these programs and the definition itself has many believing that “zero waste” means you can never get rid of anything. Not so, zero waste is about utilization of 100 percent of what you don’t want by recycling, reusing or diverting it from landfill (which can both make and save you money).

My grandmother stood by the philosophy that “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” Zero waste epitomizes that. Find out what excess materials you have and get someone to take it off your hands. This isn’t selling ice to Eskimos; there are many businesses across the U.S. scrambling to get access to the kind of resources you are getting rid of — be it cardboard, paper, pallets, plastic, electronics, chemicals, metal, wood, textiles, stone or just about any other byproduct. It is likely that someone out there somewhere wants what you have.

So the questions are: What do you have? How do you find someone that wants it? And what’s it worth to you to divert it instead of trashing it?

First, one of the best ways to learn what it is you’re wasting is to get up close and personal with your waste: Climb into your dumpster and see what you have. But don’t go it alone — take your staff along with you. Companies are using dumpster dives as an annual exercise in which staff sift through the company garbage to understand what and how much they are wasting. It is a great way to access risk, understand your impact, educate about lost profit and find financial opportunities.

In an office setting, you will likely find that most of your waste is paper. Actually, about 72 percent of it is, according to the New York State Department of Labor. The average office prints 31 pages per employee per day, a 2010 study by Ipsos and Lexmark found in the U.K.

In your dumpster dive, you might be stunned by the amount of paper and realize that much of it was printed frivolously. In that case, recycling what you produce might be a good way to reduce your impact on the environment. Though, in some cases, a recycling company might actually charge you to recycle it. There is a silver lining to this problem: Show your employees — now huddled around your dumpster —how much waste is created and empower your people to use less. Printing less paper and consuming less ink means more money in your company coffer and a smaller dumpster out back.

A great example of this is from a company here in Phoenix. Park Howell from Park&Co. has recently created an initiative in which each employee receives a ream of paper to use for printing purposes for the year. When the paper is gone, the employee must campaign and make a case to the office as to why they should receive another package of paper. In your office, one ream per year might not be possible so figure out an appropriate ration. I can guarantee over at Park&Co. this disruptive change is making employees more aware of their impact and waste and the company is going to save some money.

If you are not in a conventional office setting (maybe you are a manufacturer, warehouse or a restaurant), you might find a diverse blend of waste that you produce when performing a dumpster dive. Categorize the resources and call local recycling, asset recovery companies or use an online resource like RecycleMatch, which is an online marketplace that connects companies to purchase/swap resources that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill. In these instances, not only do you have the opportunity to recover money from a waste stream, you will likely reduce your waste hauling costs as well by downsizing your dumpsters or pickup frequency.

Take it from my grandmother: Get out your pirate eye patch and hat, grab your staff and head out to your dumpster for a treasure hunt.

Studies used:
www.nyc.gov
www.lexmark.co.uk