It’s the small things in life that matter the most.
That’s an axiom I believe in, yet doing the small things when it comes to being a socially responsible company has always left me feeling inadequate. I’ve been haunted for years with the desire to do more than just the simple, basic, and ordinary things, like recycling and reusing. There must be more that a sole proprietor can do but whatever “that thing” is has eluded me.
Since starting my consulting practice in 2001 and then my association with NHBSR in 2009, my sustainability efforts have been consistent and respectable, though seemingly inconsequential. At my home-based business, I do lots of things that I believe in every day.
Doing simple things but feeling like it was not enough
I drink tap water whenever I can, minimizing the need for extra packaging in purchased water bottles. I only print pages when I need to and I reuse the back sides of printed sheets. I’ve transitioned to more frequent telecommuting meetings to avoid driving a long distance when it’s a nicety but not a necessity. I take longs walks in the woods with my dog, Grace, and revel in the natural world, so I do what I can to protect it. I volunteer in countless ways and give philanthropically when I can.
But my efforts pale in comparison to the amazing stories I hear from fellow NHBSR members who are making a big difference. Hypertherm, Timberland, Wire Belt Company of America, and Grappone, are just a few of the legends. They, with many others, are leading the way with initiatives like energy conservation, solar installations, LEED certified buildings, and a ton of other impactful projects yielding impressive results for our planet and people, all the while remaining profitable.
As a sole proprietor, I glean what I can from NHBSR events and crave for ways that I could have some significance, leaving each NHBSR gathering feeling inspired and motivated, but also scratching my head, a bit perplexed about how I can do more.
A simple idea of one dog’s birthday
Then I got an idea from a most unlikely source: twelve-year-olds who were modeling a very socially responsible activity. For the last several years, I’ve been a regular volunteer at the Monadnock Humane Society. Along the way, I’ve see young children come into the Shelter with boxes of dog food, cat toys, and all sorts of cool things that are needed. For their own birthday parties, these thoughtful and generous youngsters had asked party-goers to bring needed items for the animals instead of gifts for themselves. I thought, “If 12-year-old kids are doing such a selfless deed that is helping others, why can’t my sweet 12-year-old dog do the same thing?”
That seed of an idea has morphed into the #GracefulGiving party, a twist on a birthday bash that allows party-goers to give to others, specifically non-profits organizations who do so much good in our communities, and are always struggling for needed funding. Anyone who gives any amount to any 501c3 organization during the month of October is eligible to win prizes. This virtual gathering allows us all to come together and create a sense of community by celebrating and helping the lives of others.
Leveraging your interests and collective efforts
After seeing the initial activity on the very first annual #GracefulGiving party, it’s so exciting! I finally feel like I’ve landed on an effort that is scaled to my business, but has potential to have an impact—for many people (and animals, too!), along with non-profits. And the best part, it’s great fun! Spearheading this effort that celebrates my sweet and courageous pup, in a way that positively impacts untold number of people, is incredibly rewarding to me. Of course, I will keep recycling and volunteering, but now I’ve found a way to leverage my passions and connect people for mutual benefit, in a new and different way.
I’ve learned a major lesson and the irony is huge. Each piece of this party consists of lots of small things. One fearful dog who is reaching her full potential. One person who decides to make one small donation. One non-profit working hard to provide needed services, perhaps even to a small constituency! I have been undervaluing the small things, but it’s not the size of the endeavor that always matters. It’s when you pull the right things together, it has to potential to be gigantic.
Note: Don't miss this great writeup on Robin and Grace in The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript. At the time of this post four non-profit organizations have donations coming in-- Monadnock Humane Society, The River Center, Monadnock Restorative Community, and Monadnock at Home.