By Laura Hennen - Public Relations Principal | Digital and Social Engagement

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Grassroots efforts lead to strategic focus on environment

June 13, 2017

With the recent release of the Blue Cross Community Report, we’re taking a closer look at the initiatives Blue Cross is leading to move health forward in communities across Minnesota.

Today we are speaking with Betsy Moran, president and COO of ClearStone Solutions, a Blue Cross affiliate company.

Betsy also is the executive sponsor of Blue Cross’ environmental sustainability program called Blue2Green and is a certified by Dakota County as a “master recycler.”

How is Blue Cross moving health forward through the environment?

We have seen grassroots, employee-driven effort around sustainability issues for several years now. This was primarily driven by a group of our facilities employees who maintain the buildings and grounds of our corporate campus and were personally committed to driving sustainability practices.

About two years ago, Blue Cross leadership saw the value of this grassroots work and incorporated it into our corporate social responsibility strategy. This move really helped to formalize and define the scope of the work.

This year, I was excited to see a commitment to environmental sustainability became embedded in the company’s strategic plan. This was a huge first step, as it tied the work directly to business goals. We now have a point of reference about the type of company that we want to be going forward.

Why does a commitment to moving health forward for the environment matter to Blue Cross?

As a good corporate citizen, Blue Cross needs to pay attention to our environmental footprint. Looking at our daily practices is a really important step. If we took a purely economic view of how we run the business, we might make different choices. But, there are a number non-economic factors that really matter as well.

Let me give you just one example. Recently, we decided to stop using Styrofoam in our buildings. Now Styrofoam cups and plates are very inexpensive to buy. So, from an economic standpoint, that kind of purchase would be your first choice. But Styrofoam also adds to the landfills. It’s not biodegradable. From an environmental standpoint, it’s simply bad stuff. Paper plates and cups may cost more, but they can be recycled and are friendlier to the environment.  Making that change had its challenges, but it was a really important step. It shows that we’re now looking at many factors that we hadn’t looked at before.

Of course, there needs to be a balanced approach economically. But at the same time, we can be more aware of the environmental impact of our choices and use that to make business decisions.

What project within the environment pillar really stands out to you? Why?

We launched a pilot composting program earlier last year. This small program represents a bolder step than we’ve taken before. We’re trying something unknown because we want to try to keep biodegradable trash out of the landfill.  It’s a small step, but an important one.

While we know that composting will eventually show a return on investment, it will take some time to get there.  The fact that the company is supporting this effort is a good step forward.

Why is this focus on environmental sustainability good for Blue Cross as a business?

More and more, people and businesses are expecting it of us. If we put a little bit more of a “green” lens on how we do business, we may find that we’re not only helping the environment, but we’re also a becoming a more attractive business for our prospective customers, vendors and even employees.

Also, we may be surprised that some choices are more cost effective than what we had previously done— for example the composting pilot could prove to lower waste management costs.

This work all comes down to an openness to doing something differently. That can have surprisingly good business outcomes.  Overall, I’m very proud that Blue Cross values the health of the environment as part of the company’s goal to be a good corporate citizen.

Report to the Community

Blue Cross is committed to creating healthier communities. The 2016 “Moving Health Forward” Report to the Community demonstrates Blue Cross’ support for numerous programs and initiatives that strive to make a healthy difference in Minnesotan’s lives.

Read and download the full report. Watch the video. Read the news release.

This is the sixth post in the Moving Health Forward Report series. The first post shared highlights from the report from Paula Phillippe, senior vice president of human resources and corporate social responsibility. In the second post, Janelle Waldock, vice president for community health and health equity, shared insights about the work Blue Cross is doing in communities across Minnesota. In the third post, Marc Baer, vice president of health service operations talked about the work Blue Cross is doing to make health care less expensive, easier to use and more impactful throughout the state. In the fourth post, Ruth Hafoka shared how Blue Cross is moving health forward for our employees. In the fifth post, Patsy Riley, senior vice president of government markets, spoke to the importance of the company’s focus on health equity.

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