As Thanksgiving quickly approaches, many people take time to reflect on the past year and everything it’s brought them. Maybe it’s time with family. Maybe it’s a promotion at work or another big career milestone. Maybe it’s as simple as the copious amount of food that’s waiting to be consumed at Thanksgiving dinner (calories don’t exist on holidays, after all). When people think about what makes them thankful, sustainability doesn’t often come to mind. This Thanksgiving, let’s recognize three Illinois Sustainability Award winners that have made a difference in their communities.
Aisin Manufacturing Illinois, located in Marion, Illinois, is an automotive manufacturing plant that produces a variety of products, such as sunroofs, grill door shutters, and door handles. Their goal is to help improve people’s living environment under the slogans of “Create with,” “Harmonize with,” and “Be with.” In 2010, AMI implemented a “Go Green” program that provides environmentally-friendly choices with financial incentives. In other words, the company reimburses employees for incorporating sustainability into their lives outside of work. To qualify for incentives, employees must fit one of the following criteria:
- Purchased a new or used hybrid vehicle.
- Installed geothermal or alternative energy heating or cooling system.
- Installed air conditioning or furnace system with SEER rating 13 or higher.
- Performed any whole house energy efficiency upgrades.
- Purchased LED or CFL light bulbs or any new Energy Star-rated item.
- Purchased recycling containers or bins in the program’s inaugural year.
In 2016, AMI reimbursed $9,268 and 138 team members participated. Learn more about their award-winning projects here.
Sweet Beginnings, LLC is an excellent example of the triple-bottom-line of sustainability. Working under the principles of people, planet, and prosperity, the social enterprise produces beelove, an all-natural honey and honey-infused body care product line. Based in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago, Sweet Beginnings’ employee roster is made up of graduates from NLEN’s “U-Turn Permitted” program. “U-Turn Permitted” is a training and preparedness program for formerly incarcerated individuals with over 383 graduates. In 2011, the program began a partnership with the Chicago Department of Aviation and the Chicago Department of Family Support Services. Their goal? Install and maintain beehives on the property of O’Hare International Airport to educate and promote the public about the health benefits of honey, the environmental benefits of pollinators, and the importance of preserving pollinator and other natural habitats (especially in dense, traffic-heavy urban areas like Chicago). Learn more about their award-winning activities here.
The Chicago-based campus of Loyola University is approaching climate change with a focus on three areas: the campus, curriculum, and community engagement. The University has established its commitment to a sustainable future by implementing a social justice mission focused on climate change. Recently, Loyola released A Just Future, a detailed climate action plan that includes a goal to be a carbon neutral campus by 2025. The campus aims to significantly reduce energy use, increase clean energy, provide incentives to boost teaching,research, and engagement of climate science and adaptation, procure renewable energy credits and carbon offsets, and implement climate-ready infrastructure projects. Learn more about their award-winning efforts here.
These three organizations are just a few of the many Sustainability Award winners that have been recognized over the life of the program. So this Thanksgiving, between that sixth helping of mashed potatoes and post-meal nap, take a second to appreciate the importance of sustainability in society. It may not be a priority in your everyday life, but sustainability is the steady driving force behind making this planet a better place to live. For that, we should be thankful.