Living Planet @ Work Company of the Month: Miratel
By Olivia Fernandez, Officer, Living Planet @ Work, WWF-Canada
Writing your company’s first sustainability report can feel a bit like swimming in uncharted waters. Angela Puzzolanti, managing partner at Miratel, considered the idea with some trepidation earlier this year, but opted to confront the challenge. Now on the verge of publicly releasing the company’s first report, I spoke to her to learn about the experience and why she plans on writing another one next year.
“In the beginning I asked myself ‘why would I do that?’ We don’t have the same resources as a large organization and we’ve never done it before,” Angela said. “But going through the process, I learned so much about how to plan and communicate our initiatives, and now I see it as very viable and beneficial for small businesses like ours.”
Puzzolanti’s decision to create her company’s first sustainability report was eased by the fact that she didn’t have to do it all on her own. Through her membership in WWF’s Living Planet @ Work program, she was introduced to the HP-sponsored Change the Equation contest. The HP competition rewards the company with the best sustainability report, and gives the first three to register, 40 free hours of consulting from students at the University of Waterloo’s Business and Environment program.
For two months, Puzzolanti worked with student consultants and her Business Development Manager Desi Cabrera to identify savings in Miratel’s water, energy, paper and office product use. The consultants helped to provide the tools to measure impact and track progress in areas such as recycling. They also collaborated on how to represent the information through graphs and numbers, and then trimmed the fat for the final report.
Soon, Miratel will publicly release the report to document their sustainability journey and celebrate this milestone in a big way.
"Making our report public keeps us on track and makes us accountable for what we’ve done. It also forces us to work towards the 2013 report, which we plan to release next year,” she says. “It’s like being on a diet – it works better if you are documenting what you eat. This is sort of a resources diet!”
“For part of the report, we conducted an employee survey and in a few areas we realized we had been missing the mark. The perception of us as a green company and what initiatives we were doing weren’t perceived the way we had expected,” she says.
This eye-opener inspired Puzzolanti and her team to come up with new ways of engaging employees like with improved signage, creative activities, and accessible information on Miratel’s recycling program, toxin-free cleaning products, and partnership with Bullfrog Power.
The process also inspired new environmental advocates to volunteer on the company’s green committee. The team will soon be having monthly meetings with regular brainstorming and even a green suggestion box to generate new ideas.
With new goals on the horizon, Puzzolanti hopes her success story inspires more small businesses to take up a similar challenge.
“The idea that writing a sustainability report is too hard for the average small business or that it doesn’t rank in comparison to the glitzy glamorous reports of big businesses shouldn’t stop anyone. That’s what originally made us hesitate, but now look at us, we’re that much further in reaching our goals,” she says.
Her advice for those who want to write the first sustainability report for their company:
1) Measuring environmental efforts is essential to assessing their impact.
2) Understanding what you’re already doing is key to doing more.
3) Your approach should always be progress not perfection. Take pride in what you are doing and strive to make it better. Perfection doesn’t happen overnight.
If you’re inspired by Angela Puzzolanti’s story and want to make your workplace more sustainable, join her and become a Living Planet @ Work champion. And consider entering the HP-sponsored Change the Equation competition.