American Family Insurance has launched a Zero-Waste Initiative – becoming the first major private employer in Dane County to routinely divert food-related waste from the landfill. “We’re finding, like many organizations are, that if you’re saving resources, you’re also saving money,” said Elizabeth Churchill, American Family’s workplace sustainability specialist. “Conservation of resources is oftentimes a better economic practice, too.” American Family expects to generate over 100 pounds of food waste every one to two weeks, and about double that weight in compostable paper towels. The Zero-Waste Initiative and progress was recently highlighted on Madison’s Channel3000.com, and previously in the Wisconsin State Journal.
The framework for Zero-Waste was developed with strategies explained in Eric Lowitt’s book, The Collaboration Economy, which demonstrates how leaders of private, public and civic sectors are building a new economic model that creates solutions to challenges ranging from global food and water to energy and recycling. Lowitt will be in Madison this June as a speaker at Leadership for a Better World Global Summit (for more information on this Summit, see listing in Upcoming Events). The “collaborative” or “sharing" economy is among the emerging ideas that we explore in the Sustainability Leadership Graduate Program. Churchill was a Community Fellow in the first cohort of the program, and now serves as a member of our Advisory Board. Other sustainability leaders at American Family are participants or graduates from the Sustainability Leadership Certificate program, including Rob Summers, Melissa Flores, LeeAnn Glover and Nina Catterall. Glover and Catterall have been recently accepted into Edgewood College's new Sustainability Leadership Master of Arts program.