Nearly 100 representatives from private businesses, conservation groups and city government got a rare chance to see some of Boise's most prominent companies give a glimpse of their sustainability practices.
The first ever Boise Sustainability Forum, put together by the Idaho Conservation League, featured a panel with John Bernardo of Idaho Power, Shelly Zimmer from Hewlett-Packard, and Idaho Center for Sustainable Agriculture President Pete Pearson. It took place on the afternoon of Sept. 3 on the top floor of the Zions Bank Building, overlooking Boise's sprawling foothills and the tops of thousands of trees.
A separate panel later in the afternoon included insight from Michael Armstrong from the city of Portland and Terry Moore of EcoNorthwest on economic development opportunities stemming from sustainability programs in both public and private entities.
During the first panel, the audience got to ask each panelist specific questions, which included topics on water sustainability in a desert area and integration of renewable energy into current systems.
In exchange, those in attendance learned that 30 to 40 percent of grocery store produce ends up in the Ada County Landfill, and 24 percent of ink cartridges from HP are made from recycled plastic.
The big take away from the panel seemed to be that money will best drive change. In order for businesses to commit to environmentally conscious practices, they must find ways that sustainably will help their bottom line. But without taking such actions, major resource shortages could have such companies' bottom lines hurting in the future.
"This is not kumbaya-let's-save-the-planet,' Pearson said. "This is a financial risk."