During a presentation in 2013, someone asked me, “Milo, what are you personally doing to contribute to positive change for our environment?” At the time, my company was experiencing growth due to selling organic soils, fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides that all directly contribute to a positive change and impact on our environment. So when I was presented with this question, I fell speechless.
For the first time in my entire career, I was completely caught off guard. There I stood — someone striving to be a true agent of positive change, a voice for the industry of health and an advocate for the environment who aims to encourage others to make better choices — and I was frozen by a question about my personal contribution to environmental change. My response to her question was, “I am changing people’s minds and hearts through my company.” She was satisfied with my response, but I was not.
The question that she had posed kept repeating in my mind, and I wondered, “What am I personally doing to contribute to a positive change for the environment?” I felt as if my professional efforts weren’t enough, and I needed to transform into being a personal example as much as I was already a professional example.
I was determined to push my boundaries. I wanted to be the vehicle of change and prove it. So, I bought a retired, 160-acre military base in northern California that has 11 buildings on it, four missile silos and 142 acres of farmland. I put this land in a conservation easement so it could never be developed, and I also converted the buildings to organic fertilizer, soil and insecticide factories. Second, I took steps to get my company certified by the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF).
In 2014, my company’s board of directors and I also developed a new mission for my business. We then worked to develop a set of standards that could help ensure all organizations show consumers they have the same end goal in mind: to compassionately change the world with honest and pure products in a conjoined effort to battle climate change and assist in the development of a sustainable future.
Through these steps, I was able to begin moving toward my goal. I now operate a zero-waste company that has a negative carbon footprint, and I learned many lessons along the way that anyone can consider trying if they want to be more eco-friendly.
What steps can you take to have an impact?
Although I made big commitments both personally and professionally to become an advocate for protecting the environment, I believe all leaders can take what might seem like small steps to become a driving force behind impacting climate change:
1. Practice proper waste disposal. How you deal with waste at work and at home can make a big difference in how you impact the environment. One great (and simple) way to take control of your company’s sustainability initiative is to have a designated blue bin to collect all aluminum cans. As an incentive, you could give these to a different employee once per month. In a company with more 20 employees, you would be amazed at the aluminum they can use and its dollar value. It’s a nice incentive for employees, but more importantly, this helps put aluminum where it belongs.
2. Get creative. Consider a few ways you and your company can limit waste. For example, designate a gardener in your company. Allow this person to compost all the leftover food employees do not eat, and use that compost and grow an edible vegetable garden with it. You could serve these fresh vegetables in the office, at a company party, etc. This way, you can limit food waste in your organization.
Although it takes time and effort to become a driving force behind protecting the environment, there are things we can all do to make a difference. As you can see from learning about my background, everyone’s journey is unique. But by considering a few best practices, such as proper waste disposal and composting food, you can be on your way to having a positive impact.