Shannon Quinn’s passion for the environment snakes to the name she gave her son — Rio, Spanish for river. As P&G’s Global Water Stewardship Leader, this focus means Quinn is dedicated to both reducing water use through manufacturing and consumer products and restoring natural waterways. A recent project with the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation in Idaho and Utah hopes to return water to 500 acres of land.
“It is everyone’s responsibility to do something,” said Quinn, a Signal Trailblazer last year. “It’s not only our responsibility to help, but we also have the scale at which we can make a difference.”
Hear more from Quinn in the video below or read our lighted-edited transcript.
If we do not help to address the problem, our consumers, the people that we serve, and our manufacturing facilities could potentially be at risk for not having the water that’s needed to thrive. My role right now is what I had envisioned doing when I was 12 years old, essentially, and wanting to do something that made a difference. And I believe that I’m doing that here. Each day is so different. But all of it comes back to really working to address the water challenge that the world is facing right now, and many parts of the world are facing it more dramatically.
I spent my childhood exploring forests, looking under rocks to see what kinds of animals and what life was like under, on even under the ground and through the streams and in water. As a family, I used to actually complain that we couldn’t go to Disney World. But where we spent our time was driving across the country to visit the beautiful natural areas that we have in the United States, including many national parks. And now I have a family, and actually named my son Rio, which is river in Spanish, in part because of that deep connection and the inspiration that I find in water. P&G’s water stewardship program is one of the most innovative in the space. We have water goals as part of our ambitious 2030 sustainability goals. And my day-to-day is figuring out first what those goals should be, and then how to achieve those goals. What P&G has committed to is helping to drive forward a water-positive future. That is making sure that there is enough good clean quality water for not only people but also the environment.
We’re focusing on helping first to reduce water use within manufacturing. We’ve been doing that for decades, but now we’re really continuing to build on that foundation of knowledge and expertise and water efficiency. Then we’re also helping consumers in their homes to reduce their water usage, by providing them with products that allow them to do that, sometimes without even thinking about it.
I spent two weeks going around the Western United States a couple months ago, to meet some of these partners, individuals and organizations that know what the water challenges are in the West. In some places, there’s not enough water to run through streams. And so fish are dying, and there’s not enough water to keep the wildlife alive or even to provide enough water for farmers or other uses.
I think it’s very innovative for a company to empower their employees to go and meet these people and see the actual impact that’s happening on the ground. And to see a stream go from dry, meaning dry as a bone, to just flowing with water and fish. The way that we find projects, we work with an organization called the Bonneville Environmental Foundation in the United States, who have a lot of great connections with small, medium and large nonprofit organizations that specialize in addressing water issues. Through them, we discovered that the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation that’s located in Utah and Idaho have this vision and have had it for a long time to bring the sacred, culturally important and historically significant location of about 500 acres of land back to what it was when their people were massacred there.
It’s an amazing project that not only is going to help restore water into an important ecosystem, where it’s kind of disappeared. But it’s also helping to address a cultural need. It is everyone’s responsibility to do something. Water is life. Water gives us all life. It enables all of our businesses to function and enables life to function. It’s important for corporations like P&G to make these sustainability commitments because each of these companies touches so many individuals through our products. Let’s make a change in this product that helps reduce water in one person’s home. But multiply that over five billion individuals and suddenly you have a huge positive impact. It’s not only our responsibility to help, but we also have the scale at which we can make a difference.