Sustainable trends: Green movement runs from food to venture funding.

Author:Peterson, Eric

Now that green is the status quo, numerous companies are taking it to the next level. Here's a checklist of sustainability trends that are sweeping Colorado's business community in 2015.

Rules to do business ethically:

Define "Sustainability"

Matt Hamilton, sustainability director at Aspen Skiing Co., says it's imperative for businesses to define what sustainability means to their organization as the first step in developing policies.

"We define sustainability as being in business forever," he says. That means looking at the big picture and spending lobbying dollars accordingly.

"For too long, the outdoor industry has taken its impact for granted," he adds, pointing to some big numbers:

* 6.1 million jobs

* $650 billion contribution to GDP

"That's bigger than the financial-services sector," Hamilton says.

If global warming impacts snowfall in Colorado--or else heats up the Northeast--that could impact the ski business in the Rockies or beyond, Hamilton says. "They're less likely to go skiing in Colorado if there is warm weather in New York."

To this end, Aspen puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to global warming. "We're active supporters of Protect Our Winters," he says of the mission-based global snowsports activist group. "We see it as a critical vehicle to engage the snow sports community."

Hamilton says sustainability goes beyond ensuring clean water and mitigating fires. "All of that's for naught if the businesses can't operate.

"It's not only the ski areas, but the communities we operate in and making sure they're strong, vibrant places to live," he says. "Attracting great workers is important for us to grow our businesses in Colorado."

That translates to Aspen Skiing Co. signing an amicus brief for the Supreme Court in favor of marriage equality and adopting a policy giving employees two paid days for volunteer work.

"Businesses need to speak up about these issues," Hamilton says. "When companies start out [developing a sustainability plan], they usually look internally. With the climate issues we're facing, it's shortsighted to not be looking externally to see how we can influence policy at a state or national level."

Re-evaluate your supply chain

Chipotle Mexican Grill recently made waves by announcing it will remove GMOs from its restaurants. The Denver-based fast-casual food business has consistently pushed for local, "responsibly raised" ingredients.

"Sustainability isn't really the goal. The goal is to make the...

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