West Michigan conferences highlight sustainability

April 19, 2010
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Finding sources for recycled and recyclable business supplies and equipment is getting easier as awareness of sustainability issues increases, said Bill Stough, CEO of Grand Rapids consulting company Sustainable Research Group.

“It’s easier to do these days than it has been in the past,” said Stough, who will moderate a panel discussion on the topic at an upcoming sustainable business conference being sponsored by Local First.

“The whole idea of purchasing products that have recycled content is an interesting one because in the early days — the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s — most businesses would consider using recycled material in their products as a very bad thing to do. They didn’t want customers to think it was inferior quality.

“That whole notion has just about flipped 180 degrees now. Consumers are demanding products that use less virgin raw materials,” added Stough, whose firm works with businesses on sustainability practices. “They want to know if they are going to invest in something that is going to have as little impact on the environment as possible.”

“Designing Sustainable Communities Through Business” is the title of the second annual Local First sustainability conference. It is scheduled for 8 a.m.-5 p.m. April 28 at Aquinas College. Stough’s panel is called “Going Green and Cutting Costs.” Other topics include “Maximizing the Benefits of My Local First Membership,” “Building Social Capital,” “Succession Planning” and “Creative Marketing Tactics.”

The keynote speaker is Amy Emberling, a managing partner at Zingerman’s Bakehouse, part of the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses that grew up around a deli founded in Ann Arbor in 1982. Zingerman’s Bakehouse was founded in 1992.

The cost of the conference is $75, which includes a light breakfast, lunch and networking hour. For more information, check the events section of www.localfirst.com

Also scheduled for April is the Michigan Sustainable Business Conference and Expo at the Grand Traverse Resort in Acme, April 28-30. Sponsors include sustainable business forums from across Michigan, including the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum. For more information, see www.nwm.org/stateconference.asp.

Grand Valley State University is conducting a two-day seminar titled “Understanding and Implementing Sustainability as a Real Practice.” That event, sponsored by the Seidman College of Business Executive Education Program, is scheduled for 1-5 p.m. April 23 and 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m. April 24 at the Pew Campus in downtown Grand Rapids. The program includes Cascade Engineering CEO Fred Keller; GVSU Professors Jaideep Motwani and Kelly Parker; and GVSU Sustainable Community Development Initiative Director Norman Christopher. For more information, visit www.gvsu.edu/execed

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