This month we introduce you to Martin Wolf, Director of Product Sustainability and Authenticity at Seventh Generation Inc., one of the members who helps make our network so unique.
Why did you join NAEM?
The world of corporate sustainability is growing and changing rapidly. As the world’s largest association of corporate environmental, health and safety, and sustainability professionals, NAEM provides an unparalleled opportunity for learning and sharing about sustainability management challenges and solutions.
What are you currently working on?
My role at Seventh Generation is to guide the evolution of Seventh Generation products, and the industrial and regulatory systems that support them, to greater sustainability, and to assure that the sustainability aspects of Seventh Generation products are wisely implemented, fairly assessed, and accurately communicated. Presently I am working with others at Seventh Generation to better quantify where we are on our path to our 2020 goals, and to automate the collection of data and reporting of where we are on that path.
I also work with industry, environmental, and consumer advocacy organizations and with legislative and regulatory bodies, to improve the sustainability of the industrial, social and regulatory systems within which we operate. Reform of rules governing hazardous substances and extended producer responsibility are two current areas of focus.
What do you like about your job?
Almost everything! I work with an amazing group of intelligent, caring, and committed individuals in an organization with a strong commercial and social mission, in a LEED-Gold facility with views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains. Most amazingly, I can look back and see changes in our industry that made it more sustainable!
Has your environmental program received any awards or recognition? If so, what?
Seventh Generation has been a leader in socially responsible businesses since its founding 25 years ago, and has been recognized many times for its social and environmental policies. Two recent awards are the Champion level in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment (DfE) Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative (SDSI) Program and the Leader of Change awarded by the Foundation for Social Change. On a personal level, I was honored to be presented the EPA Region I Environmental Merit Award in 2011.
What is your biggest challenge in your current role?
Newton described a mass in motion as staying in motion until acted upon by another force. Unfortunately this is also true for the morass that is our world economy and our social structures. Being a sufficient force to effect meaningful change remains my biggest challenge.
What advice would you have for someone entering the field today?
Enter the field with the goal of restoring and protecting the world and its inhabitants. And then do it, recognizing that this will not happen overnight, but will take time and the engagement of many others.
What are the three words your spouse/colleagues/best friends would use to describe you?
None of those referenced in the question would limit their descriptions to three words! My hope is to be caring enough to always help others, thoughtful enough to never harm our world, and wise enough to know when I have been neither caring nor thoughtful.
What aspect to the natural world/environment impresses you the most? Why?
The interconnectedness of our world never ceases to amaze me. Touching any one aspect affects all other aspects. This is something we still do not fully appreciate.
What do you like to do during your free time?
This is the wrong question. The question should be what do I like to do, and how do I do this at work, at home, and elsewhere? I like to learn, so I read a lot and try to listen well. I am amazed by the natural beauty of our world, so I live in Vermont and enjoy her natural beauty throughout the year. I enjoy being considerate of others and of nature, so I work for a mission-driven company and support others in similar work.