“Environmental respect encompasses a broad range of processes and activities,” explains Wayne Stewart, manager at Wilbur-Ellis in Spokane Valley, WA. What’s important to note though, according to Stewart, is that real stewardship means caring for both the physical and non-physical needs of a community.
“On a deeper level, environmental respect means that we must be involved with public education, community support, industry participation and involvement in our public schools,” says Stewart. “Physical respect is a fundamental building block, but we also must consider the public and educational environment.”
The facility has made many physical improvements to emphasize its environmental commitment. Stewart explains that three years ago, a complete office remodel included the addition of heavy insulation, energy efficient windows, energy efficient lighting and entrance and exit air locks. The measures taken reduced the operation’s energy use by 50%. A Fire Marshall-approved key safe was installed so emergency response personnel could have immediate access to the facility, and all employees are trained in safety procedures.
But Wilbur-Ellis does not forget the broader meaning of stewardship and the importance of being advocates for agriculture.
Employees serve on industry boards, school boards, school curriculum committees, watershed and flood control groups and youth sports boards. Company leaders present information on food and environmental safety at the local community college, and Stewart himself is actively involved in communicating agriculture’s needs and challenges to political representatives.
The office has worked closely with the Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment and Washington Friends of Farm and Forest to communicate positive information to the public, legislators and community leaders.
“It is critical for companies to be responsive and active in political processes, and to become involved in discussions infiltrating the media,” says Stewart. “Long-term sustainability for our industry requires direct involvement in dealing with many of these short-term issues.”
Note: Wilbur-Ellis in Spokane Valley, WA, was a 2011 state Environmental Respect Award winner. For more information on this program, which is sponsored by DuPont, click here.