Supporting workers, global communities and natural resourcesThe Pet Sustainability Coalition is a U.S.-based nonprofit accelerator of environmental and social sustainability in the pet industry. The organization was awarded a 2016 MissionBox Philanthropic Fund "Share With the Nonprofit World" grant.
Here, MissionBox Vice President of Partnerships and Community Engagement Mila Amundson talks with Pet Sustainability Coalition Executive Director Caitlyn Bolton. Caitlyn is a 2015 Pet Age Forty Under 40 award recipient in honor of her innovative approach to bringing together industry leaders to strengthen their businesses while working toward a future where employees, global communities and natural resources prosper.
What's the focus of your work at the Pet Sustainability Coalition?
The Pet Sustainability Coalition was founded in 2013 as a nonprofit platform to help companies in the pet industry improve their environmental and social impact. We do this by providing educational tools and collaborative opportunities to strategically address sustainability in a way that improves profitability.
Each member company starts the sustainability journey by taking a quick impact assessment to help identify the most strategic sustainability opportunities. Then, we identify specific areas for improvement and make connections with nonprofit partners and others to improve the company's impact in a measurable way.
In addition, we work collaboratively with the World Wildlife Fund and leading pet food manufacturers and retailers to address industry-wide noncompetitive sustainability issues, such as protein sourcing. For example, what does sustainable protein sourcing across the industry look like? How do we guide companies to improve supply chains in an effort to improve their impact?
We invite anyone who wishes to save future Fido to make a tax-deductible donation to the organization.
What's so important about working together to effect change?
Some of the issues facing the pet industry are too large for a single company to tackle alone. To make progress, we're bringing together stakeholders from the entire value chain. Whether it's manufacturers, farmers or retailers, the most effective way to maximize social impact is to bring these parties together.
Tell us more about the impact assessment. What does it involve and how do you use the results?
The impact assessment is done online and can be completed in about 30 to 60 minutes. It addresses performance in various sustainability areas, such as employees, environment, business models, transparency and governance.
When we review the assessment results, we might see that a company could improve performance in a specific strategic area — say, employee engagement. Perhaps the company has a high turnover rate or employees who really care about the environment or sustainability but don't have opportunities at work to engage in activities that support those areas. In turn, we follow up with a collection of tools and resources to help the company improve its impact in this area.
Here are some examples:
So you're helping to develop an administrative framework or infrastructure for your members to be successful?
We create a road map to help build momentum with sustainability programs. Many companies take a piecemeal approach to sustainability initiatives, so we try to help companies look at their performance more holistically — to identify and then implement the specific strategies that would be most successful.
How do you measure your progress and impact?
We measure success by the percentage of member companies that adopt sustainable business practices. Who's actually implementing the plans that we put forward?
Ideally, we want all of our member companies to achieve measurable progress year after year thanks to their involvement with the Pet Sustainability Coalition. We also want to be sure that our business leaders are inspired to create success by looking at the overlap between resilience, long-term profitability, and opportunities for social and environmental impact. Protecting our resources will ensure that future generations have the same opportunities that we have today.
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Caitlyn Bolton is the executive director of the Pet Sustainability Coalition. Caitlyn is a 2015 Pet Age Forty Under 40 award recipient in honor of her innovative approach to bringing together industry leaders to strengthen their businesses while working toward a future where employees, global communities and natural resources prosper. Caitlyn was born and raised in northwestern Indiana and frequented the sunshine and mountains of Colorado, where she now resides. Caitlyn received an education based on scientific discovery and service. As a young teen, she traveled to struggling regions to support humanitarian efforts such as building schools, teaching sustainable farming methods and delivering hospital supplies. With a developed set of leadership skills and a curious nature, Caitlyn chose a rigorous academic pathway that led to a bachelor's degree in environmental studies and economics from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a master's in environmental management and sustainability from Harvard University. Caitlyn has experience in the natural habitats most affected by our changing planet — including the Amazon rainforest, where she studied the dichotomous relationship between governmental policy and indigenous cultures.