Some organizations are fully onboard with sustainability. They have the support of their leadership and funding to make lasting change. Others have only a single champion tasked with motivating the entire team. Regardless of where you fit along that spectrum, the process is the same. So here are 7 steps to get your organization started with sustainability.

1) Set Your Goals

The first step is always deciding what you want to do. Perhaps you’re a health system and you want to reduce surgical waste. Maybe you’re a Village Board and you want to switch to solar power. Whatever your goals are, write them down and prioritize them. It is much easier to achieve something concrete than to try to simply “go green.”

2) Create a Road Map

Once you know where you’re headed, plot out the steps you will need to take to get you there. The health system wanting to reduce surgical waste may want to start with a few key procedures. The Village Board may want to explore the cost of rooftop solar vs. community solar.

3) Collect Baseline Data

This is the epidemiologist in me talking but you will get nowhere without baseline data. It is impossible to show what you’ve achieved if you don’t know where you started. The health system might want to start by tallying the types and quantities of waste in their key procedures. The Village Board may want to determine how much they have been paying historically for electricity and what the carbon footprint associated with that has been.

4) Implement Your Change

Here is where you get to put your plans in motion. The health system could start by convening a meeting with the surgical team to brainstorm ways to reduce waste. The Village Board could start getting quotes and holding public hearings about the proposed change. Implementation happens in phases – and usually begins with conversation. Education and raising awareness are big factors in any goal you set, so you’ll need time to interact with your team or your community. From there, you can move forward until you have fully implemented your project.

5) Report Your Results

Sustainability projects do not always follow a linear path, so it is very important to track your data. Use the same metrics you used in collecting your baseline data so you will have a valid comparison. Consistency is a key part of reporting – you’ll want to measure your impact on a regular basis so you build up a dataset. That history will be very helpful in showing how far you’ve come.

6) Share Your Story

The best way to generate enthusiasm for your sustainability project is to tell people about it! That means taking your roadmap and your data and converting them into an engaging story to share with your team. In some cases, you may even want to share it with the press! Even if your results are less than you’d hoped for, it is good to share what you are working on, why it’s so important, and what challenges you are tackling.

7) Keep Going

Whatever your results, keep the momentum going. That will be easy if you hit it out of the park on the first try – say, your surgical waste was cut by 80% or your public areas are now fully on solar power. But it’s more likely you will hit a few setbacks, and you’ll still need to keep up your enthusiasm. Sustainability is not about making quick changes that will be easily undone. It’s about making deep change that will last for generations.

Whether your organization is fully committed to a sustainable future or you are the sole champion trying to go green, these seven steps will get your organization started with sustainability.

Photo by Vianney CAHEN on Unsplash