What we do! The mission of Sustainable Services, Inc. (SSI) is to lead communities and businesses to a sustainable operation.  SSI will do this by working with the community or business to implement the 4 sustainable principals of The Natural Step (TNS). These 4 TNS principals of sustainability are implemented in a 4 step process working with the staff.  The results of the 4 step process will most certainly save money in the municipal or business operations.

Let us talk about improving our lives, saving money and the planet

By Gary Peterson, AICP

Sustainable Services, Inc.


No joke! We can improve our lives, make more real money by reducing costs and our actions will benefit the planet. We can do this by learning about and participating in the Eco-Municipality Movement, “The Natural Step” program and being more sustainable in our daily actions. We can do this as individuals, as part of a business and with our clients. It is truly a win-win-win program. What our firm does is Implement The Natural Step in your community or business.


What is The Natural Step (TNS) of Sustainability? It is a process/program system that aspires to develop an ecologically, economically and socially healthy community for the long term. To be successful we will need to change as individuals. When we change as individuals we can change how we do business—which will allow us to communicate our sustainability message and services to our business and municipal clients. We can take them to the next step and facilitate their transformation to an eco-business or eco-municipality.


We know of LEED buildings, green roofs, alternative energy sources and high mileage automobiles—this needs to be part of our message.  TNS goes further by including the system by which the building, the roof, the energy source or the automobile are a part. Was the exterior environment changed to support the LEED building?  Is the interior environment healthy for the build’s occupants?  Are the occupants meeting their total life needs?  That analysis can be repeated for the roof, energy source or automobile.


So what is TNS?


The Natural Step has 4 Principals of Sustainability developed in Sweden in the early 1990s. These steps are:

  1. Nature is not subject to systematically increasing concentrations of substances extracted from the Earth’s crust. (Think of non-renewal energy consumption, oil or coal and resulting carbon dioxide or releasing mercury in exhaust gases.)
  2. Nature is not subject to systematically increasing concentrations of substances produced by society. (Think of filling landfills, thus removing that land from future productivity or releasing some of the 50,000 manmade chemicals into the environment.)
  3. Nature is not subject to systematically increasing degradation by physical means. (Think of soil erosion, thus reducing soil productivity and degrading water ways or cutting down rainforests. )
  4. People are not subject to conditions that systematically undermine their capacity to meet their needs. (Think of the increasing cost of housing verses constant wages or restricting an individual’s personal freedom.)



Collectively we can make changes. Changes can be made in both the short and long term. In the short term we can “pick the low hanging fruit.” Some examples could be making copies front and back on the page, completely turn off equipment not in use, reuse materials as much as possible, do not use Styrofoam cups and recycle all that is possible. Exactly what should be done in the short term and the long term needs to be determined by you and by you working with your colleagues. Let’s get started!


If you want to learn more, I recommend the following books:


“The Natural Step story”—Karl-Henrik Robert

“The Natural Step for Business”—Brian Nattrass & Mary Altomare

“The Natural Step for Communities”—Sarah James & Torbjorn Lahti


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