Earth Consultants

Applying Lean Six Sigma to the Environment

How “walks”​ can help reduce the environmental footprint of your company

2 min read

My first job out of college was working for a large aerospace company as a full-time process improvement specialist (called a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt) to help the company solve problems and save money. Most of my work involved improving the quality and speed of manufacturing a product.

As I started to learn more about climate change and environment pollution, I suddenly realized that my process improvement skills might also be used to reduce environmental impacts at the company, not just help the company save money.

However, I wasn’t an expert on topics like greenhouse gases, pollution, hazardous waste or water conservation, so I didn’t know where to get started.

Anyone else been in that situation? I felt stuck.

But I was motivated to do something. I needed to educate myself, and find some mentors.

One of the classes I took was a certification program called “Green Manufacturing Specialist” from Purdue University (which doesn’t look like it exists anymore).

In this course, I learned about the five common environmental impacts generated by most businesses, and they used the acronym “WASTE” to make them easier to remember.

  • W stands for Water, which is looking for areas where water is being wasted or could be reused for another purpose
  • A stands for Air emissions, or any pollution and gases that are expelled into the air that can cause harm to people and marine life, or increase the greenhouse effect causing climate change
  • S stands for Solid waste, which are items that are consumed, and then thrown away into the landfill
  • T stands for Toxins, which are hazardous waste, toxic chemicals and other pollutants that are dangerous for people and difficult to dispose of safely
  • E stands for Energy, which is energy consumed, typically from natural gas and electricity, that also contributes to the greenhouse effect and climate change

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If you’d like to read more about how I transitioned into sustainability work for businesses, check out the rest of this article on LinkedIn

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