The Business Side of Sustainability: An Interview with Josh Prigge - Public Goods

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The Business Side of Sustainability: An Interview with Josh Prigge

The Public Goods Blog is about health, sustainability and people making an impact. That’s why we seek out and interview amazing people who can share incredible stories or valuable insights. Their wisdom might be the inspiration you need to live a healthier, more sustainable life.

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Sustainability may be something everyone can practice at home, but it’s also an important aspect of business. Corporations are responsible for a ridiculous amount of waste and pollution. What these companies often don’t realize is that being environmentally-friendly can also be profitable in the long run.

Luckily there are people such as Josh Prigge, who has dedicated his career to helping businesses be more sustainable. Prigge is the CEO of Sustridge Sustainability Consulting and the host of The Sustainable Nation Podcast. Every week he interviews global leaders in sustainability and discusses the issue in the context of corporations, higher education and government. He has received awards for sustainability and spoken at many environmental conferences, including the Paris Climate Conference.

Recently we connected with Prigge, who had some interesting insights on the intersection of business and sustainability. Take a look at his answers to the questions that had been on our minds.

Public Goods: How has Sustridge impacted the field and practice of sustainability?

Josh Prigge: We work with business from all sizes from startups of three employees to fortune 200 companies. We are flexible and offer services that specifically meet the needs of our clients and meet them where they are at, whether they are starting a brand new sustainability program for their organization and need strategy and planning, or if they need help with specific tasks such as GHG emissions inventories, zero waste planning or B Corp certification.

PG: What are some tips you have for business leaders who want to reduce the amount of waste they generate?

JP: After you have looked at your own operations and have recycled, reused or composted everything you can, you need to then start looking at your supply chain. Work with your suppliers to see if they can reduce the waste associated with what they are sending you so that you are eliminating waste before it’s created. I have found that most suppliers are more than happy to work with their customers to help them reach their sustainability goals.

PG: Tell me a bit about the Sustainable Nation Podcast.

JP: The Sustainable Nation Podcast delivers interviews with global leaders in sustainability and regenerative development every week. Our goal is to provide sustainability professionals, business leaders, academics, government officials and anyone interested in joining the sustainability revolution with information and insights from the world’s most inspiring change-makers.

PG: What is regenerative development? We have seen the term appear a few times on your site and around the web, but we haven’t found a clear definition.

JP: A new movement toward regenerative development is happening in the corporate responsibility world that is both critical and paradigm-shifting. At the heart of the movement is this truth: that those committing to moving beyond sustainability toward a Net Positive future — synonymous with achieving a positive corporate footprint — must go beyond risk avoidance and incremental improvements to their businesses, toward truly innovating to eliminate negative impacts and actively creating positive impacts.

Organizations adopting a regenerative approach will be well positioned to grow their brands, have strong financial performance and attract the brightest talent. Regenerative development means organizations are not only reducing their negative impacts such as reducing water use, GHG emissions or energy use, but they are also actively making positive impacts in the world. For example, a company that was sequestering more carbon then they emit (carbon positive) or sending more water into their water tables then they take out (water positive) are regenerating their ecosystems, communities and the planet.

PG: What made you so interested in sustainability?

JP: My undergraduate studies were in physical education and coaching. Sports was always my biggest passion growing up, so I wanted to be a teacher and a basketball coach.

Shortly after graduating college I started to become much more aware of important global issues such as climate change. I started reading more books and watching the news, and soon I became much more passionate about the environment and knew I wanted to rededicate my career to sustainability and fighting climate change.

I moved to Hawaii to study in Hawaii Pacific University’s MA in Global Leadership and Sustainable Development. I was fortunate enough to get hired as the university’s first sustainability coordinator. After several years there, I took a position as director of sustainability at Fetzer wine company, and then in 2017 I launched my own sustainability consulting firm.

PG: How do you define sustainability?

JP: I typically stick to the Brundtland Commission’s definition of sustainable development, which is “Development that meets the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This is what it is all about to me. It’s managing our resources and working together as a society to make sure all of our ecosystems and ecosystem services are intact for all future generations to thrive.

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