Sustainability Made Stronger, Pt. 2

How companies are leveraging innovative partnerships to reduce their impact on the environment.

This is the second in a two-part series. Click here to read the first. 

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54 percent of millennials think they’ll make a significant contribution to better the environment.

Whether it’s carbon emissions discussed this week in Paris, or the carbon footprint that products and services leave on the environment, people are becoming increasingly interested in how to solve the challenging environmental issues our planet is facing.

Millennials are often driving the conversation, as a recent poll shows more than 54 percent of them think they’ll “make a significant contribution to better the environment.”[1]

They’re asking questions about the companies they’re doing business with – how are you sourcing your materials? What is your carbon impact on the environment? Who are you partnering with to address these concerns?

These are not the questions that businesses faced 10 years ago.

[Also on Longitudes: Millennial Momentum]

Jena Thompson-Meredith, Vice President of Business Partnerships for The Conservation Fund helps companies answer some of those questions. Along with EJ Hullverson, Marketing Manager for Nestlé Purina, Jena spoke with Longitudes about an innovative solution they’ve created to address the challenge of carbon emissions:

James: Yesterday, we spoke about the reasons why companies are searching out sustainable solutions for their businesses. How they’re looking for innovative ways to reduce their impact. Jena, tell us how The Conservation Fund helps businesses do that.

Jena: Thirty years ago The Conservation Fund was founded on the premise – which seemed counterintuitive at the time—that you can have economic development and a healthy environment.  For example, we have pioneered a method for trapping and storing carbon dioxide to combat climate change and generate jobs within sustainably-managed forests that we own.

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Companies are being better citizens for the environment and the world is having economic returns.

In this way, we advance the health of the environment and the local economy. With help from partners like UPS and Nestlé Purina, we’ve protected 75,000 acres of forestland and planted more than 10 million trees that trap CO2 emissions. That’s important because if we lose more forests to development, the risk of increased environmental impact rises.

James: Connect the conservation of trees to the reduction in pollution for us – and tell us how you’re seeing this method benefit companies you work with?

Jena: Businesses are looking at securing their supply chain; they’re looking at sourcing more responsibly; they’re looking at making sure that they reduce their emissions and give their customers an opportunity to be part of that story.

The Conservation Fund is working with its business partners to find, purchase and manage forests in a manner that cleans our air, provides us wildlife habitat, and creates jobs. And while we’re coming at it from slightly different directions, we’re meeting each other at that intersection between economic development and environmental protection. That’s what is so unique about this solution.

James: That’s where The Conservation Fund, UPS and Nestlé Purina story connects. EJ, can you describe how you and UPS are working together to reduce impact for your customers?

EJ: We work with UPS to provide carbon-neutral shipping for all of our veterinary e-commerce and small package orders. We purchase carbon offsets for every package shipped and the fee we pay goes to support the initiatives that Jena just discussed. It’s a small step toward sustainability. We think it’s the right thing to do, and our customers tell us that this matters to them.

Jena: The Conservation Fund is one of several carbon-offset projects UPS invests in. We help UPS achieve its goals by protecting and restoring forests that absorb carbon dioxide. In turn, UPS provides us pooled amounts of revenue that enable us to protect those forests.

That’s a story they can offer their customers like Nestlé Purina. The effects are astounding: UPS and its customers have helped us trap approximately 160,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

EJ: It’s a great story to share, and it’s all because of partnerships. No one can tackle these issues alone – that’s the bigger story.

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How can we leave the world better than we found it?

James: What other ways is Nestlé Purina partnering with other organizations to support its sustainability efforts?

EJ: There are several. Recently, we joined Field to Market to collaborate with other like-minded companies to improve agricultural efficiency and impact on the environment.

Additionally, we’re a member of the Material Recovery for the Future Consortium that’s working with the community-recycling infrastructure to try and improve the recyclability of flexible plastic packaging. And we’re also a member of the EPA’s Smartway Program that leads to energy improvements in rail and truck fleets.

[Also on Longitudes: The Business Case for Sustainability]

James: The focus has definitely changed. From the companies you’re working with today, Jena, is that what you’re seeing?

Jena: Increasingly, we’re seeing companies that are better citizens for the environment and the world have real economic returns. But it’s also about stepping up and doing the right thing.

Sixty years ago the environmental movement was certainly about the laws and regulations associated with not doing bad. Over the last 15 years we’ve seen sustainability turn around into an opportunity to do good.

How can we leave the world better than we found it and what is our responsibility to do that? That’s what I get excited about and look forward to. goldbrown2



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James Rowe is Creative Director of Longitudes and co-host of Longitudes Radio.

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