Your Sustainability Story: Lea Elliott of Naturehood Ecological Consulting
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|Tell us about your company|
|At Naturehood Ecological Consulting, I help professionals who:
– Are worried about the affect their work is having on the environment
Create a clear, inspiring and practical sustainability action plan that is integrated with their other work goals and that they can effectively implement.
|Tell us about your background|
|For twenty years I built a career, first as a field biologist and then a civic employee, figuring out how to minimize the negative environmental impact of forestry, agriculture, manufacturing, and urban growth. I was paid to fix pollution issues, protect natural resources and minimize habitat destruction.
As I strived to slow the loss of species and their habitat, my efforts never felt like enough. My work often felt like a guilt-trip, as I prodded people to reduce energy use, protect fish habitats and decrease contaminant runoff. I came across as an adversary when I tried to convince people to save a bit of land here or lower pollution there.
In contrast, the nature I was studying and trying to protect was inspirational. Nature doesn’t need to think about reducing its impact. In nature, there’s no pollution: one animal’s waste is another’s resource. Total habitat loss doesn’t exist in nature, as life creates habitat as it goes about its business. In nature, there’s no need to reduce energy use, as flora and fauna live within the limits of the sun. I switched gears and began to apply an ecological approach to my work
In municipal government, my colleagues and I used the concept of “nature’s services,” like flood management, pollination, and temperature moderation, to support the conservation of ecologically rich lands. We talked about the benefits that nature brings to our community, such as nurturing our crops, cleaning our air and beautifying our neighbourhoods. We began to design community plans to mimic an ecosystem. We encouraged planners and developers to weave nature through the urban landscape, to value nature for its natural capital, and to generate resources and manage waste on site.
I showed teachers how to grow their school gardens in concert with nature. We built habitats to attract beneficial animals, like chickadees, lady beetles, and bees, to help us with pollination and insect control. By working with nature’s decomposition services, we moved from paying for soil to building it ourselves. We grew a diversity of crops to make our gardens more resilient and more interesting. In the city, we used the same practices that I saw ecological farmers using with great success.
As I watched the growth of nature-inspired sustainability, I saw nature’s lessons being applied widely across many disciplines, not just natural resource sectors like forestry and farming, but also in manufacturing, construction, engineering and health care. However, I also saw a need to further distill the brilliance of nature to help people in these and other industries see how ecosystems can be a model and inspiration for sustainability. I launched Naturehood and wrote Work Like Nature: Sustainability lessons from ecosystems for your job or business to give readers a blueprint to “work like nature” and be more sustainable in their profession.
|Tell us about your future|
|I hope to continue to inspire professionals to make a real difference in their work and to see the opportunities that sustainability offers by providing resources such as my book, coaching, workshops, and building an on-line community.|
|What strategies were most helpful for you as you grew your green business?|
|I try to keep on the positive side of sustainability. I strive to see the possibilities that sustainability and working like nature offer each of us, our communities and our businesses. When I work with people I meet them where they are and look for opportunities that simultaneously help them meet their work goals and be more sustainable.|
|Where can People Learn more about you?|
Connect with Lea Elliot on LinkedIn