Second week in Portland, OR #Sustainability

In the Tasting Room

The second week of our study trip to Portland, OR went quickly and we are safe back in Madrid. We had the chance to visit Sokol Blosser – a certified organic winery. What I found quite interesting, is that they prefer soils for the grapevine that makes them struggle. The plant should go deep with its roots, and because of the challenge it will generate better grapes. This could be seen as a metaphor for situations in life – the more you get challenged the better you become. Sokol Blosser had the motivation to do the right thing from the beginning on. It is impressive to hear what efforts they do: starting with the organic cultivation of the fields to the most sustainable printer they could find in their office. This shows one of the difficulties businesses have to face if they start with responsible actions: where does the responsibility of a company start and where does it stop? Not easy to answer, each business has to find this out by itself and find the right balance.

Our trip brought us also to the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC) which researches in wave energy, a challenging energy with potential. Wave energy machines are huge and the center has to test them in small scale. This scaling can be applied to any other sustainability measures in companies – successfully tested pilot projects can be scaled up and implemented in other facilities.

On the Nike campus

One of the trip highlights was the visit to the HQ of Nike (& where we got a whole program with different presentations plus a campus tour. My impression is that Nike takes the sustainability issue very serious. They implemented a sustainable growth strategy into all its business units, because they know that they depend on natural resources and its availability. The resource scarcity has a direct impact on Nikes bottom line. In order to have a market for its products made of recycled material Nike wants to transform the market and make the consumer conscious about environmental and social issues. Additionally they believe in a sector approach and stakeholder involvement to maximize impact. What we need is to make sustainability sexy and attractive!

“Sustainability means a healthy body in a healthy community in a healthy planet” Nike

The main ideas I took with me to Madrid are:

  1. Question basic assumptions – why do we do what we do and why do we do it how we do it?
  2. Think innovative & creative – there is not one solution to climate change, but many innovative and creative ones. Think out of the box! A door must not be used as a door again.
  3. For a real change we need collaborative sector action. This could look like the Eco Index for the outdoor industry.
  4. Partnerships & Dialogues are essential and relationships matter.
  5. First create pilot projects, if the idea works scale them up!
  6. As Nike is doing it, it is important to transform the market and create consumer awareness. This increases the attractiveness of sustainability for other companies as well and they will join.

I had a really good time in Portland, OR and want to give my thanks to Howard Feldman who organized all our visits and lectures! Thank you!

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