The broader meaning of sustainability - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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The broader meaning of sustainability

Sustainability is a word that has several different applications. In the landscape arena, it relates to designing a landscape that is in balance with nature and requires the minimal use of fertilizer, water, and other resources to maintain. Designing and maintaining sustainable landscapes is a fundamental element of the “greening of America” and a subject that has recently attracted the attention of PLANET and several of its members.
It’s not surprising, then, as we move forward this year, sustainability will be a top priority on PLANET’s agenda. In fact, the upcoming Crystal Ball Report will be devoted entirely to sustainability, and the Green Industry Conference this fall will contain a sustainable landscaping track. PLANET’s definition of the word, however, is more holistic, and goes beyond its traditional landscape meaning to apply to one’s business and personal well-being, too.

People in our industry, including many PLANET members, have been driving wastes out of their businesses by practicing lean management strategies. There’s a natural synergy between identifying wasteful practices in a company and offering sustainable landscape solutions to customers. PLANET’s Chief Operating Officer Sabeena Hickman has coined this synergy in the catchy phrase, “lean to green to clean.” Indeed, as a business owner, if you’re already practicing lean management at home, the transition to offering sustainable solutions to your customers and helping to create a cleaner environment is just a step away.

If you attended this year’s Executive Forum in Orlando, Florida, you also have a better understanding of how the word sustainable applies to individuals. Our No. 1 priority is to maintain our personal wellness and health, something that business owners often put on the back burner as they deal with the rigors of running a company. Yet, without our health and without spending quality time with our family, other sustainable tangibles become less meaningful in a hurry.

Where does PLANET fit in? What do I see as my role as PLANET president? As many of you already know, I’m an avid proponent of education, and our association will continue to play a key role in educating the general public about the value our services play in protecting and, yes, sustaining our environment. PLANET also has the responsibility to keep its members in the forefront of change and continue to offer the tools and resources needed to provide sustainable solutions for your customers’ landscapes, for your businesses, and for your own well-being.

In the bigger picture, our association has another important charge — to continue to raise the level of professionalism within the industry. The rationale is that if the level of professionalism can be raised, then our industry’s image, along with our ability to recruit new employees and receive a fair price for services, will also increase, allowing green industry entrepreneurs to take their rightful place among other industry professionals.

With that said, I want to thank five stalwart professionals who have been and will continue to be dedicated to growing our association and industry. Thanks to Jason Cupp, CLP, for the great job he’s done this past year as PLANET president. Thanks go, as well, to Miles Kuperus Jr., CLP, and Joe Kujawa, CLP, who are leaving the board of directors, and two who are joining the board, Michael Byrne, CLP, and Chris Raimondi, CLP.

Over the next year, I’m going to talk more about professionalism and what it means for our industry. After all, it’s through the work of professionals that we can continue to sustain PLANET’s position as the voice of the green industry, sustain our livelihood, and sustain our environment.

Bill Hildebolt, Ph.D., CTP, CTP-CSL
PLANET President