How Any Business in the East Kootenay Can Be Sustainable

The panel discussion around sustainability in business at the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce Luncheon. Featured left to right: Dave Butler, Ken Lo, Greg McCallum.

Members of Cranbrook's financial, tourism, and educational sectors spoke about why being environmentally-friendly is not only good for the planet but for a business' bottom line too.

At this week's Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce luncheon, guest speakers for a talk about sustainability in business included East Kootenay Community Credit Union's Chief Operating Officer Ken Lo, Director of Sustainability with Canadian Mountain Holidays Dave Butler, and Greg McCallum, the Business Program Coordinator with the College of the Rockies.

Lo brought up his belief that customers these days want to associate with brands that are positively impacting the communities they are part of, so, by working for the benefit of the environment, businesses can create loyal and engaged customers.

On the same stroke, he says business owners can increase long-term employee retention by showing their workers that they are part of an organization that truly cares.

"They should really look into, first of all, you know, the culture, you know, do they actually have a culture that supports sustainability within their business practices? The other thing I would suggest is to really think about what sustainability looks like to them for that particular type of business."

In the tourism sector specifically, Butler says sustainability is an absolutely critical part of conducting business these days and is in one of the best positions to take advantage of it.

"Not only do we need to make sure that we're looking after those places and looking after the communities that we operate, but making sure we share that with our guests through our staff so they understand the depth of our commitment. Hopefully, they'll take some of that away and not only be more loyal to us as customers but actually change their own lifestyles."

Butler adds that it does not matter how large your company's operations are, there are things both smaller and bigger in scale that any business can do to be more sustainable, many of which, like upgrading to LED lights, can actually reduce long-term costs.

Speaking of the long-term, McCallum says that is exactly what the College of the Rockies has been thinking about when it comes to sustainability.

They offer a four-year degree for Bachelor of Business Administration - Sustainable Business Practices. McCallum claims it is the first of its kind in North America.

"The students that graduate at the College have that real balance between profit, planet, and people and they understand that it's not all about making money. Obviously, businesses have to be profitable in order to be sustainable, but there's a big part of that that involves the cultural, the social aspects, as well as the environmental aspects."

He also spoke about a new campus-wide composting initiative that is expected to launch this fall at the Cranbrook campus. More details here.

The Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce will be releasing a new sustainability checklist in a couple of days where businesses can rate how well they are doing at being sustainable and what else they can be doing going forward.

Audio: Ken Lo, Chief Operating Officer, East Kootenay Community Credit Union

Audio: Dave Butler, Director of Sustainability, Canadian Mountain Holidays

Audio: Greg McCallum, Business Program Coordinator, College of the Rockies

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