United Way of Yavapai County is now a Certified Sustainable Business at the Conservationist/Bronze level from the Sustainability Alliance.

United Way of Yavapai County is now a Certified Sustainable Business at the Conservationist/Bronze level from the Sustainability Alliance.

The team at United Way of Yavapai County shows that starting on a sustainability journey doesn’t have to be hard, and small actions can add up quickly. Hannah Leonard, Community Liaison AmeriCorps VISTA, initiated a green initiative for the UWYC office last year and gained support and engagement from the entire staff. Their efforts earned them Conservationist/Bronze level certification from the Sustainability Alliance, and they have plans for further improvements.

Here are some of the steps they’ve taken so far:

Climate and Energy: The team adjusts the office thermostat before leaving each day and over the weekend. They use energy efficient LED bulbs and natural light, and signs around the office remind everyone to unplug unused technology and appliances. They carpool to offsite meetings when possible, or offer zoom and remote work to avoid unnecessary travel. When weather allows, they open windows instead of using artificial temperature control. A next step is to review power bills and establish a baseline of power use to track the impact of their energy conservation efforts.

Toxics and Waste:  Staff members share cleaning tasks in the office and they are actively transitioning to nontoxic cleaners as current products are used up. In the kitchen, they stopped buying most single-use items, replaced disposable coffee pods with a drip coffee maker, and transitioned to a refillable water dispenser. They starting recycling through the City of Prescott and introduced live plants into the office to help purify the air.

Water and Ecosystems:  The office uses low flow water fixtures and everyone stays alert to ensure there are no leaks or issues with plumbing. They use drought-tolerant plants in landscaping. Double sided printing is now the default and tools like Google Drive to help further minimize printing. They repurpose old single-sided printed paper as notebooks and notepads, and reuse all filing materials and folders. They’ve started reviewing all purchases to find more sustainable options, such as bulk purchases to reduce trips and certified sustainable paper products.

Employees and Community: Staff benefits include time off and flexible shifts, plus cell phone stipends and gas reimbursements. Employee accomplishments are recognized in weekly staff meetings and United Way provides a range of learning opportunities. They have a committee for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) and mini DEI training sessions are offered monthly at staff meetings. Their grant application includes DEI questions that are currently informational but next year will be scored. They are creating a public workshop on building an inclusive workplace and they run broad-based nonprofit meetings in the Verde Valley and Quad Cities.

See who else is certified.