In the afterglow of the Sustainable Brands 2013 conference, many companies found themselves inspired to bring positive change back to their business and local communities. At DMV.org, we recognized a huge opportunity to reach a vast network of people and drive actionable change both through our online services and our local community.
As first-time attendees to the conference, the entire team walked away inspired, hopeful and committed to becoming change-makers within our company, community and planet. But what can a company that simplifies DMV information online bring to the sustainability table?
As it turns out, quite a bit.
What We’re Doing
SB'13 taught us that it’s not enough to simply “do less bad,” as Bill McDonough poignantly stated — it’s about throwing your entire efforts into initiatives that “do more good.”
Over our 10-year history, DMV.org’s mission has shifted entirely from profit to purpose. We not only want to bring value to our users by making their DMV experience easier, we ultimately want to reduce transportation-related deaths, encourage eco-friendly driving habits, and influence other businesses to reduce their carbon footprints and become stewards of change themselves.
After SB'13, our team looked long and hard at what we could do both internally and externally to carry forth our passion for sustainable living to our employees, our local community and society at large. Over the last month, we’ve participated in a series of meetings dedicated to fleshing out each individual member’s passions and goals; based on team feedback, we’ve initiated five purpose-driven initiatives that will, in the future, allow us to sustainably launch programs both internally and in our local community.
We are diligently exploring what these programs will mean and how we will execute them. At present, our goals are aimed at:
- Providing comprehensive team education and training on sustainability initiatives
- Becoming a zero-waste company and managing our resource by-products
- Engaging with our community, and influencing individuals and businesses to work together toward sustainable living solutions
- Enhancing the driving experience for both people and planet with for-benefit initiatives that leverage our influence over our site users
- Encouraging team wellness through nutrition, fitness and mental health activities
Each team member is encouraged to become a steward of whichever program speaks to him or her most dearly. Based on themes taken from the SB13 conference, we’ve synthesized our goals into action items designed to refine our brand messaging and storytelling, create a cohesive business strategy with strong employee engagement, reduce our waste, and increase our efficiency and positive impact.
How We’re Doing It
For DMV.org, it’s not enough to simply be agents of sustainability in our own homes and at the office. We see ourselves as the catalyst for behavior change throughout our community and beyond.
Our new warehouse office space in Encinitas, CA, has become our experimental playground for sustainability initiatives. In addition to eliminating trash bags and paper napkins, encouraging reusable utensils, and utilizing “upcycling” options for our paper, plastic, and cardboard waste, our roadmap also includes:
- Planting both a company vegetable garden and a rooftop garden
- Creating living plant walls inside and outside the warehouse
- Becoming a community compost host for residents and local businesses
- Encouraging team members to use alternate transportation (many of us now bike or take the train to work)
- Painting the company’s human values on our wall, to remind ourselves every day what we’re here for and why
- Installing solar panels and LED lights
- Purchasing Cradle to Cradle-certified products for the office space
We’re also exploring the possibility of carrying our initiatives out into the greater Encinitas community. We potentially aim to:
- Eliminate Styrofoam from local eateries
- Sponsor a community bike-share program
- Bring awareness of Terracycle to other local businesses
- Host community forums for speakers and local residents to communicate and share best practices
- Partner with the city of Encinitas to install solar/LED lights in parking lots, parks and community spaces
- Create an educational program for high school and college students that teaches how sustainability equals eco-driving and safety
We also identified opportunities unique to our business model in which we can influence our users’ behaviors and partner with other corporations to effect even greater change. We have discussed approaching conference sponsor BMWi to promote their i3 and i7 models along with their Drive Now car-sharing program, in addition to implementing user polls, petitions and unique content geared toward creating political change within U.S. transportation laws. Through potential partnerships with shipping companies such as FedEx, UPS and DHS, we could promote sustainable fleet driver training and generate campaigns for greener shipping, transportation and logistics.
With over 100 million unique users visiting our site each year, it’s absolutely vital that we involve our readers and afford them the opportunity to become change agents themselves. We will design a page on our site dedicated to sustainable transportation, upon which we plan to generate a series of innovation contests for our readers to participate in — challenging them to reduce their emissions, drive safer and even come up with their own creative ways to implement eco-conscious practices in their everyday lives. We are also building a sustainability “report card” similar to that presented by Johnson & Johnson, so that our users can read our goals, see our efforts and hold us accountable to our actions.
Because of the Sustainable Brands conference, DMV.org has a new lens through which to view our business and our role in the world. We are empowered to seize our opportunity for change, help our community thrive, and partner with people and businesses that are as passionate and dedicated to change as we are. By relying on each other’s strengths, we can learn and grow from one another in ways that we simply cannot do alone … because, after all, “it’s going to take all of us, and it’s going to take forever — and that’s the point.”