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Sustainability is a priority for select businesses across all industries. The education sector is no exception. I worked for Macmillan Learning for 3 years, where sustainability is a core part of the company’s mission.

It’s not just a marketing gimmick or short-term initiative. Meeting sustainability goals is woven into everything the company does. Since 2009, our goal has been to make the world a bit greener by slightly altering the everyday processes at the company.

Reducing CO2 emissions is a main focus because it is seen as the most pressing issue. By the year 2020, the goal is to reduce carbon emissions by 65% from where they were in 2009.

It took extensive research and employee-led planning committees to determine the carbon footprint and formulate a plan for reducing it. It turns out that 80% of Macmillan’s carbon footprint came from the consumption paper, combined with transportation, printing and distribution of the books.

Within just the first two years of this initiative, they saw substantial progress. When reviewing emissions from the purchased paper required to print our books, they reduced the carbon intensity by 44% per ton.

Sustainability truly is a company-wide effort that is a priority for every aspect of the workday.

Why Other Companies Should Follow Suit

Although there is doubt among some that greenhouse gas emissions will lead to a climate crisis, why should we wait to find out? Most scientists agree that the “greenhouse effect” is a major factor contributing to climate change. By taking action now, large companies are doing their part to avoid a potential crisis that would be beyond repair by the time it is a “proven fact.”

Publishers (of educational material and otherwise), as well as companies in other industries, have a responsibility to society — to do good and cause no harm. If a company’s process is damaging the environment, that is arguably causing harm.

One of the biggest obstacles faced by the publishing industry is the lack of recycled paper available for companies trying to improve their efforts for sustainability. However, innovative teams are bound to continuously find solutions for any obstacles that arise in the pursuit of sustainability.

As Macmillan Learning’s John Sargent said, “Let us be a company that leads instead of follows.” I think that’s a great attitude to have, which is why I’m proud to have been part of such a forward-thinking company.

As Macmillan’s latest blog post indicates, the company is currently in the process of calculating their primary carbon emissions for 37 sites across the United States, UK and Germany. This will tell them what progress has been made in the past 4 years, giving them an idea of where they can improve and where they’re excelling.

Stay tuned to the Macmillan Learning website and blog for progress updates!