For a second year in a row, the SPRNG (Sustainable Practices Raising Net Growth) Conference brought together a group of nearly seventy undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and sustainability leaders from a variety of the region's green businesses. Organized and run by members of the UO Net Impact Undergraduate chapter, the event took place in Portland at the Leftbank Annex.
The evening's first keynote speaker was Lisa Sedlar, founder of Portland's new Green Zebra Grocery and former president and CEO of New Seasons markets. Using the concept of the hero's journey, Sedlar illustrated the ways in which companies can take a step-by-step approach to transitioning to more sustainable practices.
While the group ate dinner, three panelists from three different industries—environmental advocacy, construction, and ecofocused financial investing—discussed their current work and explained what inspired them to make sustainability a central theme of their careers.
The evening wrapped up with a second keynote from Michael Crooke, the former CEO of Patagonia and current Avamere Professor of Practice at the Lundquist College. Crooke described how businesses that integrate sustainable practices not only see larger profits but retain a loyal customer following.
For Patrick Wrobel "15, the student group's vice president of finance and operations and one of the event's organizers, the conference was a chance for students to gain inspiration from seeing how sustainability plays out in professional settings.
“Sustainability is a buzzword that's thrown around a lot but people don't always know what it means. These leaders give life to what that word really represents," said Wrobel.