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Marilyn Waite

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BOOK REVIEW

SUSTAINABILITY AT WORK

BY Marilyn Waite • POSTED ON Oct. 13, 2017

Waite (Sustainable Water Resources in the Built Environment, 2010) details the ways every worker can strive for sustainability.

In the foreword, the author states that the thesis of the book is that “sustainability can be incorporated into every imaginable career.” She then reacquaints readers with three traditional pillars of sustainability (society, economy, and environment), and tacks on a fourth: the consideration of future generations. From those, she builds her framework for promoting sustainability in the workplace, using the acronym “SURF”: “Supply chain,” “User,” “Relations,” and “Future.” “Supply chain” refers to all the “building blocks” of a product or service, right down to “the pen that consultants use to conduct their work”; “User” refers to how the consumer uses a product or service; “Relations” represents the morale and health of various stakeholders, including employees and people who live in the area of production; and “Future” stands for the company’s overall impact and progress. The author is an engineer with multiple degrees, including a master’s from the University of Cambridge, and parts of the book are written in a rather academic style. This suits the intended audience of students, but may prove too dense for casual readers. However, all will benefit from the more accessible interviews with professionals around the world, about how they’ve committed to sustainability; for instance, a Swedish doctor tells of how increased outpatient care decreased the hospital’s use of unsustainable materials. True to its thesis, the book covers a wide range of professional fields, including technology, health care, law, finance, education, and entertainment. Each chapter contains an outline of resources and concrete steps. Additionally, the author provides precise citations and sources. That said, one question that students may ask is how one can successfully advocate for change from an entry-level position, which the book doesn’t directly address.

A wide-ranging book that will inspire young professionals to focus on sustainability.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-138-20044-9

Page count: 196pp

Publisher: Routledge

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2018

Awards, Press & Interests

Day job

Climate and Clean Energy Finance at The Hewlett Foundation

Sustainability professionals should 'surf' this career roadmap, 2017