Member News

WMSBF Selects Mark LaCroix as 2017 West Michigan Sustainable Business Hall of Fame Inductee; Sarah Chartier as Future Hall of Fame Award Winner

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will honor Mark LaCroix of Natural Capital Partners and Sarah Chartier of Spectrum Health at the Fourth Annual Triple Bottom Line Bash on Wednesday, October 25 at the Grand Rapids Ballet’s Peter M. Wege Theatre.

Currently Natural Capital Partners Executive Vice President for the Americas, LaCroix has been promoting sustainability locally and nationally for a quarter century. Prior to joining Natural Capital Partners in 2008, LaCroix worked with Interface, and was fortunate enough to be part of Ray Anderson’s sustainability epiphany. As a result, he refocused his career to serve as vice president of Sustainability for Interface’s Fabrics Division.

Team-MLacroix_350_345_70_s_c1_c_t (1)LaCroix today leads Natural Capital Partners work in the Americas, partnering with clients such as Microsoft, UPS, and Bain & Company to drive positive business results through the management of their environmental and carbon impacts using market-based solutions. He is also on the advisory board of The Erb Institute for Global Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan, on the board of directors of Artists Creating Together, and a past president of West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum.

He will be the 12th inductee into the West Michigan Sustainable Business Hall of Fame. Each year, WMSBF honors the sustainable business practitioners that have made the greatest contribution to sustainable business in West Michigan over the course of their careers. Honorees are selected by a committee of past honorees and WMSBF presidents, this year including Gabe Wing (Herman Miller), Dave Rinard (Steelcase), Jennifer Wammack (IDa Design), Bill Stough (Sustainable Research Group), Alison Sutter (City of Grand Rapids), Gayle DeBruyn (Kendall College of Art & Design), Kris Spaulding (Brewery Vivant), Jason Kehr (Valley City Electronic Recycling) and Thomas J. Newhouse (TJN Design).

The committee also selects each year an emerging professional whose work deserves further recognition.  As the Sustainability Program Manager, Chartier has managed Spectrum Health’s Sustainability Office for over five years. Her efforts are focused on identifying environmental and financial opportunities, reducing waste and mitigating Spectrum Health’s environmental footprint. More recently, she has taken on Spectrum Health’s Supplier Diversity program.

Chartier is a board member of the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, Chair of the Michigan Health and Hospital Association Green Healthcare Committee, sits on the Environmental Advisory Council of Vizient, District Leadership for the Grand Rapids 2030 District, a LEED GA and born and raised Yooper!  In 2017 she was recognized by the Michigan League of Conservation Voters with the Mayor George Heartwell Emerging Leader Award, with Women of Inspiration Award by the West Michigan Environmental Action Council and as a Community Sustainability Champion by Grand Valley State University.

Sarah Chartier

The Triple Bottom Line Bash is the signature function for local sustainable business professionals. This year’s sold-out event is presented by Consumers Energy.

Member News, WMSBF News

WMSBF Launching Food Waste Council

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum has received a seed grant from the Michigan Local Food Council Network to promote food recovery among local businesses and institutions through the creation of a new multidisciplinary council of food waste stakeholders.

The Western Michigan Food Recovery Council will serve commercial and industrial markets in West and Southwest Michigan, principally Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Kalamazoo, Allegan and Berrien counties, with a particular emphasis on large grocery operations and the commercial and institutional food service operations that account for an estimated 48% of food waste landfilled in Michigan, according to the Food Waste Reduction Alliance.  The council will provide access to peer-to-peer education, multidisciplinary networking, technical resources, and opportunities for collaboration.

“There is an enormous economic and environmental value lost to waste within local food systems that could be retained with efforts to promote less-wasteful, money-saving practices among businesses and institutions,” said Daniel Schoonmaker, Executive Director of West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum. “We can retain value through reuse options that feed the hungry or animals, through waste minimization, and the creation of marketable compost products and services.”

A recent WMSBF study found that Michigan disposes of an estimated 1.1 million tons of food waste through its municipal waste stream each year, the single largest source of material disposed in the state’s landfills and waste-to-energy facilities. West Michigan disposes of an estimated 132,000 tons of food waste, while Southwest Michigan disposes of an estimated 106,000 tons of food waste. Nationally, the USDA estimates that as much as 40% of food purchased is waste.   Business and institutions generate a slight majority of food waste, according to the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, and offer the most opportunity for recovery improvement.

The council will be facilitated by WMSBF in partnership with and the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Grand Valley State University.

Founding council members include representatives from SpartanNash, Meijer, Cocoa, Organicycle, Barfly Ventures, Bells Brewery, Gordon Food Service, Mercy Health, Spectrum Health, Creative Dining Services, Grand Rapids Public Schools, Kent County Department of Public Works, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Secchia Institute at Grand Rapids Community College, Lake Michigan College, and Feeding America West Michigan.

The Michigan Local Food Council Network is a program of the Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) at Michigan State University.  It has provided support for a dozen county local food councils across Michigan over the past year.  WMFRC is the first council in the network organized around a specific issue, and will collaborate with other network councils in Kent, Ottawa, Muskegon, Kalamazoo and Berrien counties.

“Our goal is to strengthen the network of food councils across Michigan, and the WMFRC will fill a unique space in the state’s food council landscape,” said Liz Gensler, co-coordinator of the Michigan Local Food Council Network and Outreach Specialist at CRFS. “We see great potential for WMRFC to impact food recovery innovation both locally as they work alongside councils in West Michigan and across Michigan as they share learnings and the tools they develop through the network.”


12th Annual WMSBF Outing August 8

West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum will host its 12th Annual Green Leaders Golf and River Outing on Tuesday, August 8 at The Meadows at Grand Valley State University.

Each summer WMSBF hosts a networking event and fundraiser that provides sustainable business leaders and their allies, friends and colleagues a chance to enjoy the natural resources they work to protect while raising funds to support programs that introduce emerging professionals to opportunities in waste diversion, climate action and corporate social responsibility.

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A golf outing for several years, the event was recently expanded to include a Grand River kayak expedition to accommodate changing recreational interests. Participants do not have to be a WMSBF member or sustainability professional to enjoy the event.

Proceeds from this year’s event will partially fund three fellowships for local students and recent graduates in 2018. WMSBF has long recognized the critical role emerging professionals play in forwarding corporate and community sustainability initiatives. It has supported these future green leaders with fellowships, internships and other financial support. The outing has allowed the organization to invest nearly $100,000 into the careers of emerging sustainable business professionals in West Michigan.

Past recipients of scholarships or fellowships are now in sustainability leadership positions at local companies, universities and non-profits.

Learn more and register here.

Event Review, WMSBF News

Michigan Green Labs Webinar


Hosted by the DEQ in partnership with the University of Michigan and the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum

March 31, 2016
1:00 – 2:00 PM

The Michigan Green Labs Webinar will cover a successful green labs program at the University of Michigan and examine an initiative to take the University of Michigan model and expand it to business orientated labs. This webinar is geared toward lab professionals, facilities managers, green team leaders, academics, process improvement professionals, and sustainability professionals.

Register today!


Sudhakar G. Reddy, Office of Campus Sustainability, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Lab operations at the University of Michigan, like many other institutions, consume nearly two-thirds of total energy, providing rich opportunities in saving energy and reducing waste generation.  A unique program has been developed by our office to promote and practice sustainable operations in a more standardized way in our labs.  The program evaluates specific areas of green chemistry, waste reduction, energy and utilities, green computing, green purchasing, reuse and recycle and treatment and disposal.  The state of Michigan has adapted this program and introduced it to other institutions and organizations.  To date, we have engaged 150 labs in this unique program and results are encouraging.  Specific examples on product substitution, energy conservation, recycling and reuse, along with the benefits of the program will be presented.

Daniel Schoonmaker, Director, West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum

The West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum is working to bring the tactics and strategies developed by University of Michigan and the Michigan Green Labs Initiative (MGLI) to the private sector and local schools and governments.  The West Michigan Green Labs pilot was an effort to increase adoption of MGLI protocols within organizations with existing sustainability efforts, reconcile the tools with those available from the International Institute of Sustainable Laboratories, and test the feasibility of the “Certified‐Green Lab” as a marketing and publicity claim that could incentive future adoption.  Learn about benefits and challenges encountered by participating organizations and lessons for the program moving forward.


Celebrating National Pollution Prevention Week


Twenty-five years ago, Congress passed the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990, which declared “it be the national policy in the United States that pollution should be prevented or reduced at the source whenever feasible”. This week marks National Pollution Prevention (P2) Week, September 21 – 27. P2 Week celebrates the successes of pollution prevention, brings awareness to pollution prevention, and is a call to action.

Pollution Prevention is an essential component to sustainability. P2 has often been referred to as the “gateway” or “cornerstone” of sustainability. It is the tools and approaches of P2 that assist businesses and communities in implementing sustainability. This is highlighted by the Michigan DEQ’s 2015 P2 Week slogan, “Sustainability thru Pollution Prevention”.

Michigan has long been a leader in the promotion of National P2 Week. Including an annual Proclamation by Governor Snyder in support of P2 Week, which highlights opportunities for all of us to take action. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has pulled together P2 Week activities and resources for at home and in business.

Additional information on National Pollution Prevention Week can be found at the U.S. EPA and the Great Lakes Regional Pollution Prevention Roundtable.