Cathy Resler - Head of Global Sustainability at Ocean Spray Cranberries

Cathy Resler - Head of Global Sustainability at Ocean Spray Cranberries

Cathy Resler is the Head of Global Sustainability for Ocean Spray Cranberries - a Farmer-Owned Cooperative - where she leads sustainability strategy across the Cooperative, with Ocean Spray farmers and business partners. Her work on environmental and social responsibility initiatives focuses on building value across sustainable agriculture, operations, supply chain, sales, marketing, and customer and employee engagement,   She led the expansion and first publication of Ocean Spray‚Äôs Farm Sustainability Assessment a comprehensive  report of 700+ cranberry farmers performance on pollinator and IPM management, soil health, water, energy, ecosystem conservation, business stewardship, worker well-being and community impact and that in 2018 was benchmarked to the SAI (Sustainable Agriculture Initiative) Platform Farm Sustainability Assessment.  Additionally she launched the first 3rd party social and environmental auditing program for all Ocean Spray production facilities and a cloud-based data collection system for all environmental, philanthropic, and social data. 

Prior to joining Ocean Spray Cranberries, Cathy worked in the fashion, jewelry, and publishing industries contributing to the first industry adopted Restricted Substance List (RSL), Responsible Down and Wool Standards, Environmental Paper Assessment Tool (EPAT), sustainable textiles and leather, sustainable forestry management, a national recycling PR campaign, sustainable packaging design, LEED green store design guidelines, the creation of a water stewardship education project in Brazil, and community giving program development.  She also has worked at the U.S. EPA, Columbia University and holds an MS in Sustainability Management from Columbia University and a BS from The George Washington University in Environmental Studies.

Cathy Joins Sustainable Nation to Discuss:

  • The benefits of the cooperative business model

  • Leading large supply chain sustainability efforts

  • Regenerative agriculture in the beverage industry

  • Advice and recommendations for sustainability leaders

Cathy's Final Five Question Responses:

What is one piece of advice you would give other sustainability professionals that might help them in their careers?

I would say be open. You never know where or what great idea, initiative or partnership can come from or whom it might come from. It could be that person who, in the moment, you don't you have time for. You never know which connections might turn into something amazing.

What are you most excited about right now in the world of sustainability?

I think, as we mentioned, regenerative agriculture. I think that the ability to scale that to have such a big impact and really help have a big impact on climate change, and hopefully putting us in a place where the world has a longterm viability and sustainability. Also, the harmonization of programs where we can really see that ability to have meaningful impact.

What is one book you would recommend sustainability professionals read?

I'm going to give you two. I think the first one is one that everyone should read, and I'm sure other folks say this when they talk to you too, Josh, but Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. I think everyone needs to read that. I think it just set off the modern day environmental revolution and it's so insightful and helpful, and still very meaningful for today's day and age. And then another book I found very helpful, personally, was Environmentalism for a New Millennium. It was written by Lesley Paul Thiele and is about 20 years old now. So it sounds dated, but when you read it, it's still really meaningful because to some extent, if you think about where we are in terms of the environmental movement, we've kind of been stuck and we've been on a bit of a circular movement. We seem to be on a bad circular wheel of not moving forward where we feel like we make a little progress and then we come back. So, particularly in the past two years. So, what's really cool about this book is it takes you kind of through the stages of the environmental movement in the United States, and I know I'm having a US centric voice here, but it helps impact what's happening around the world globally because the US does have such a big impact globally. It just helps to give you that education in terms of policy and science and the politics of what's been happening since the 1800's to the modern day.

What are some of your favorite resources or tools that really help you in your work?

I think staying connected with people, and I don't just mean social media. Making sure that you're having constant conversations with key stakeholders internally and externally. If you were asked to go to something then go. Make time for it. Make time to have the conversation. It's not a favorite resource or tool that's probably particularly useful, but I think that it's really helpful.

Where can our listeners go to learn more about you and the work that you're leading at Ocean Spray?

So we're getting ready to launch our new website in the next few weeks at oceanspray.com and they'll have all our new sustainability content on our seven pillars that we focus on. They can reach out to me at anytime at sustainability@oceanspray.com or they can follow or connect with me on LinkedIn.