Live Good, Feel Good, Do Good: Selling & Supporting Sustainability in the Mideast

 

Sandip Kholi is the COO of The Change Initiative based in Dubai.

Sandip Kohli is the COO of The Change Initiative based in Dubai.

Live good, feel good, do good.

Most of us would say that those are words to live by, but for The Change Initiative they are much more than a slogan. The organization is the premier destination for sustainable living in the Middle East. It specializes in offering consumers and corporations solutions—from organic foods and clothing, energy-saving light bulbs, and eco-friendly detergents to sustainable furniture, water fixtures, solar tubes, and low-VOC paints—that reduce human impact on the environment and promote sustainable development. The Change Initiative headquarters in Dubai was awarded the World’s most sustainable commercial building with the highest LEED points.

It was a pleasure and an inspiration for me to talk with Sandip Kohli, the company’s  COO, about how living, feeling, and doing good can advance wellbeing and sustainability. He’s this week’s Face of Wellbeing Leadership.

Renee: What does leading wellbeing mean to you?
Sandip: It means being a responsible citizen and doing good for mankind and for future generations. That requires guiding and educating people about what it means to contribute to society and live in a more responsible and sustainable way. That applies to consumers, companies, employees, yourself, and your own family. In my own family and home, we have changed how we live. For instance, as much as possible we use solutions that are from natural resources, not chemicals.

As far as business is concerned, leading wellbeing means selling the right products entrusted by the customers. It means encouraging the values of doing good within organizations.

Renee: How did The Change Initiative develop its sustainability mission?
Sandip: When our founder was trying to acquire companies in the solar industry, he found that the people manufacturing and selling solar panels didn’t actually use them or even understand them. They were trying to sell these kinds of products but weren’t taking the practices of using solar energy seriously. So there were companies selling sustainability products in a very commercial way, but not emphasizing that the products and practices are good for society. Our founder decided to bring wellness and sustainability values into the venture with the aim to help buyers and sellers make the connection between products and the larger impact of producing and using them. That was the genesis of The Change Initiative.

Renee: In what ways is The Change Initiative leading wellbeing?
Sandip: There’s often a gap in what people want to do and what they actually practice. Education can fill that gap. We have a one-stop destination that has incorporated all of the environmental solutions into the building. Whether it’s business-to-business  sustainable building products or products for the end consumer—all the solutions are presented with high impact. We hold lot of events in our headquarters to educate architects, contractors, building owners,  sustainability teams, and consumers in general in sustainability practices.  Often our role is helping them understand how it would benefit them financially and benefit the environment to buy  sustainable products; The Change Initiative is clearly a commercial venture, of course, but it’s also changing consumer behavior with education.

We also are educating children in the schools. We give them tours of our building, have small classes, and teach them practical things that they can do in their daily lives—little things and ways to change their habits that can help the environment.

Renee: How does your work feed your own wellbeing?
Sandip: When I can talk with people about what is possible in terms of sustainability—which for me means living, feeling, and doing good—that gives me a lot of satisfaction and energy. Helping companies network and share best practices for sustainability is not only good for business, it also supports my wellbeing. And as a human being, being part of making a contribution to our planet, even in a small way, makes me feel good.

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renee-cutoutRenee Moorefield, PhD
A deep and early belief that the values of health and sustainability would remake the way we live, lead, and work in the 21st century led Renee to launch Wisdom Works with her husband David Moorefield in 1999. Ever since, she’s helped forward-thinking clients—including Apollo Group, Booz Allen Hamilton, Merck & Company, Centura Health, Western Union, and The Coca-Cola Company—embed wellbeing strategies to create inspired workplaces, develop caring relationships with citizens, and produce results that matter.

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