Outdoor Insider Fall 2015 - Page 18

Sustainable Practices and Support in the Workplace Eric Frauman, Associate Professor, Recreation Management Program, Appalachian State University Sustainability has gained increasing importance in both academic research and organizational practice over the past two decades.1 Ranging from organizational social responsibility to sustainable business models, organizational environmental sustainability and sustainable work behavior initiatives have proliferated, with managers and employees becoming more aware of their organizations’ effect on the environment. Sustainability is increasingly viewed as an important activity in enhancing image.2 Organizational leadership and support are key to the success of organizational environmental initiatives,3 and employees’ opportunities to engage in environmentally sustainable work behavior strongly influence these initiatives. To gain some insight on sustainable practices at work, a 20-item electronic survey was developed and administered to full-time directors/coordinators of college outdoor programs (OPs) via the Association for Outdoor Recreation and Education (AORE) email list in fall 2013/winter 2014. One-hundred and thirty surveys were completed. Some of the results are shown on the next page. Most of the study’s respondents work at colleges and universities that have an environmental policy/statement linked to sustainability. But do infrastructural and financial support and a guiding sustainability policy translate to more “buy in” by OPs? Do OPs with similar in-house environmental statements engage in sustainable practices more frequently? As it turns out, outdoor programs housed at colleges and universities where there is an institutional guiding environmental policy or position statement do have greater OP engagement in sustainable practices. Infrastructural support (such as university policy or practice on recycling) also positively influences OP practice, as does an OP having its own version of an environmental policy or position statement. In sum, many university and college outdoor programs around the country are engaging in sustainable practices that in most instances are directly 18 supported by their larger institution’s engagement in the same or similar practices—a trickle-down approach of sorts. When universities and colleges embrace sustainable initiatives through policy (such as power down and purchasing policies), official environmental statements, and infrastructure (such as having an Office of Sustainability), outdoor programs are more likely to engage in pro-environmental practice and policy. Without the institutional support, it is seemingly more challenging for outdoor programs to be as proactive as they might like to be. So it’s important to do your homework and find out what kind of institutional support may be in place that you do not know about. Maybe there is an official university or college vision for sustainability that you can use to advocate for increased resources in your program. If not, check the division of student affairs at your institution and see how they address sustainability. If the support is not at a level you would like, you can initiate a task force to begin investigating how your program, department, or division can be a part of the pro-environment sustainability movement--a movement that is gaining momentum around the country. Be the change! Eric Frauman is the outgoing chairperson of the AORE Environmental Stewardship Committee (ESC). This study was conceived by the ESC and completed on behalf of AORE. Please consider joining the ESC by either attending the meeting at the conference or contacting Eric at fraumaned@appstate.edu. Davis, M.C., & Challenger, R. (2013). Environmentally sustainable work behaviors. In P.C. Flood & Y. Freeney (Eds.), Wiley Encyclopedia of Management: Organizational Behavior (3rd ed., Vol. 11). 1 Crane, A. (2000). Corporate greening as amoralization. Organization Studies, 21, 673-696. 2 Ramus, C. A., & Steger, U. (2000). The Roles of Supervisory Support Behaviors and Environmental Policy in Employee “Ecoinitiat ]