Panel sparks discussion on sustainable business practices

For businesses, taking steps to be more sustainable is likely to include a lot more time looking at spreadsheets than posting on social media, said sustainability events professional Natalie Lowe.

The comments from Lowe, President of Celebrate Niagara and the Sustainable Events Forum, came as part of the annual Business Matters panel discussion hosted by the Goodman School of Business Tuesday, March 29. The event aimed to spark dialogue and help local businesses think about how they can introduce sustainable business practices.

“For your business, you need to do an assessment to see where the largest emissions are, how does that fit into my business model and what can I do that actually makes a difference,” Lowe said.

Moderated by Todd Green, Associate Professor of Marketing at Goodman, the panel included Jessica Blythe, Assistant Professor, Brock University’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre; Gabriel Demarco (BSc ’13), Winemaker and Viticulturalist at Cave Spring Vineyard; and Mikayla Richards (BBA ’19), Sustainability Analyst at EcoVadis.

The discussion touched on how small changes across many businesses can have a big impact, how to look at where you are and set goals of where you want to go, and how to communicate actions both internally and externally and build a culture of sustainability.

Demarco has witnessed first-hand how attitudes around sustainability and adaptation strategies can shift and evolve, seeing the change on his own team over the last decade. He encouraged people to be patient with the process.

“You slowly change culture and change the conversation and validate the process,” he said. “Science takes time.”

The panel emphasized that making these changes doesn’t need to be done in isolation and there are a lot of collaboration tools and assistance available, including from Brock students and researchers.

“You’ve got friends in Niagara and Brock is one,” Blythe said. “There are a lot of partnerships available. Please get in touch.”

Small businesses and organizations can tap into Brock’s many experiential learning opportunities to partner on projects and initiatives. Past examples include marketing plans on sustainable events and mock climate adaptation plans.

This is the seventh in a series of panel talks organized by Goodman. The Business Matters series is supported by the Willmot Foundation and is part of the D. G. Willmot Leader Series.

A recording of the online event is available below for anyone who missed it.

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