Sustainable Business Spotlight – Barger Leadership Institute

Sustainable Business Spotlight

What does sustainability mean to you? The first thing that comes to mind may be using a metal straw instead of plastic or remembering to put paper in the recycling bin. While these are things we as students should do, sustainability has the potential of being a part of our everyday lives as consumers.

To better help define sustainability and promote environmentally cautious and socially responsible purchasing habits, the Sustainable Business Spotlight Project was created. As pursue analysts of Propel Business Club, our initiative was to encourage intersectional campus connection with the Michigan community through a virtual panel event focused on educating and inspiring students on sustainable business practices. We were able to do this by hosting and spotlighting sustainable business owners representing the brands NexTiles, Brassi, Oshki, and ISAIC. By giving them the platform to demonstrate their social and environmental impacts within their companies, the UM community was given the opportunity to be informed on how we are to engage in sustainable business to help our planet and our campus.

What makes our spotlighted businesses so special? Brassi, founded by two University of Michigan juniors, provides plant-based cauliflower oats with mindful sourcing and packaging made out of recycled materials. NexTiles is a Detroit-based textile recycling and secondary use company that specializes in manufacturing eco-friendly building insulation in order to create clean jobs, increase diversity in the energy industry, divert textile waste from landfills, and
contribute to the growth of the circular economy. Oshki produces durable apparel by reusing plastic waste from the Great Lakes and other US waterways in each of their products. ISAIC, the Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center, is a Detroit-based 501c3 nonprofit, committed to positive impact through the responsible production of garments, providing sustainability solutions through a proprietary training curriculum. Representatives from each company had the opportunity to speak on their sustainable business practices that were in much need of exposure that we were so proud to give them.

Our Instagram page, @sustainablebusinessspotlight, was our first step in engaging the community in our mission. Regularly scheduled posting spotlighting our featured brands then transitioned into our panel event that took place on April 13th. Engagement in our posts in our panel is evidence of the importance of sustainability and practice and the commitment to a mission that all businesses and consumers should adopt.

Due to the grant from the BLI, we are able to give 8 attendees the chance to receive products from our featured brands. This incentive not only encouraged turnout and maintained engagement but also was successful in its goal of spreading awareness for our business partners and has hopefully inspired change in consumer habits when shopping and eating locally. In line with the BLI leadership habits, starting small with a social media promotion allowed us to garner interest and host an enriching event that was an internal success for the team and an external source of enrichment for those who attended. This is undoubtedly because of the help and guidance from our stakeholders, the BLI being at the forefront.

By Julia Maloney

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