Sustainability, Policy, and Community: Synergy and Bridging the Gaps
By Julia Renner, Programs Fellow
CABA’s work spans projects in sustainability, policy, and community building. All three areas of work intersect and build off of one another, strengthening CABA’s commitment to each topic. Small businesses are in an ideal position to bridge the three areas. Think of your business as both a community and a leader. You can engage in small-scale sustainability and policy initiatives as well as branching out to engage your greater community.
Read on for specific suggestions as to how you can integrate CABA’s three program areas as part of your business’s commitment to sustainability.
Community and policy: engage with your community
Since small businesses structure the community, they can encourage local citizens to get involved in policy-building and political advocacy. Many policies related to sustainability begin at the grassroots community level, and small businesses are in an ideal position to be advocates for grassroots legislation.
- Crawl: Participate in group lobby training, which will empower you to become a resource and advisor for how your community can engage politically
- Walk: Speak on a panel or at an event related to an external topic and report back to your community on the event
- Run: Testify at a hearing and invite members of your community to witness so that they can gain an understanding of how the legislative process works
Sustainability and community: serve as a role model and a resource
People trust small businesses, and seeing local businesses take action can signal to them that sustainability is a worthwhile venture and encourage them to take action in their own lives.
- Crawl: post a member photo and a statement of why you joined CABA
- Walk: Set and track one or two social metrics of how you engage with your community
- Run: Make a company sustainability report
Sustainability and policy: small-scale to large-scale
Small businesses are in a unique position: small enough to take their own initiatives towards operating in a more sustainable manner, and large enough to take action in a way that politicians will notice.
- Crawl: participate in the MassSave Free Energy Audit Program, and educate your employees about the legislation behind this and similar energy initiatives
- Walk: Sign on to a letter to a legislator to gain an appreciation for how policy directly affects sustainability
- Run: Put an internal price on carbon in order to see how large-scale climate policies can work within the smaller framework of your business
What does this mean for my business?
Make yourself available as a resource to your community—let them see you as role models, and encourage them to come to you for advice about how to integrate sustainability into their own lives, starting with giving their time and money to businesses like yours that make sustainability a core part of their business model. Publicizing the work you do with CABA shows your commitment to sustainability, and makes your business an engaged, socially and ecologically responsible part of your community.
About the author: Julia is a senior at Northeastern University, majoring in environmental science with concentrations in marine and conservation science and a minor in English. She has previously worked as a Commonwealth Wind Fellow at Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and conducted ecological research at Northeastern University’s Marine Science Center and the Martin Ryan Marine Science Institute in Galway, Ireland. Julia is interested in climate policy, carbon pricing, and climate adaptation and resilience. In her free time she can be found outside running, biking, scuba diving, and spending time on the seashores around Boston.