In today’s world, there are few issues more pressing than climate change. The future of our planet depends on everyone — from governments and corporations to individuals. Thankfully, companies have started to take notice of the green movement and are finally bowing to mounting pressure from consumers to become more sustainable. If your company hasn’t jumped onto the bandwagon already, then it’s definitely the time to do so. Here are some ways your company can become greener and work towards bettering our planet:
Build a Sustainability Team
Assembling a sustainability team is a good way to increase awareness about sustainability, as well as implement greener initiatives. Get some employees together and build a team that can act as stewards of the environment and go-to people when it comes to all eco-friendly matters. You can start small by having your sustainability team educate staff through lunch-and-learn sessions. The team can also invite speakers from various local utilities departments and nonprofits that work toward maintaining the environment.
The sustainability team can be put in charge of coming up with simple green solutions that employees can integrate into their everyday routine. Additionally, they can start a “green challenge of the month” program, where employees are given a new eco-friendly challenge to complete every month. Some ideas include challenging employees to not use plastic utensils, segregate their waste into different bins, or bike or carpool to work for the entire month. The sustainability team can also gradually get involved in formulating and executing office-wide policies such as going paperless, reducing commute vehicles to promote pedestrian safety, and lowering the office’s carbon footprint.
Andrew McCrea, account executive and green team community events chair at Weber Shandwick, supports the idea of a sustainability team . According to him, “Employees engaging one another is more effective than memos from the top. This group can conduct monthly ‘inspections’ looking at the power/gas meters, amount of office supplies ordered, etc., and keep a record to gauge positive or negative movement.”
Push for CSR
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is of growing importance among corporations across the globe. Not only does CSR allow for businesses to address the social and environmental side effects of their ventures, but it also aids in marketing efforts and attracting top talent . In fact, according to experts at Villanova University , “Today’s consumers look for brands that are dedicated to CSR efforts, and the younger generation of employees prefers to work for companies who give back to their communities in some way or another.” In this way, you can use CSR to make your company more sustainable while boosting its public image.
If your company doesn’t already have CSR policies in place, then push upper management to make it happen. Offer to head an employee committee to discuss potential CSR and volunteering activities — not only will your initiatives benefit the environment, but you can use this opportunity to show your superiors that you are invested in the well-being of both your company and the surrounding environment.
Evaluate Environmental Impact
To implement greener policies, it’s important to first know your company’s environmental impact. Today, businesses usually calculate their bottom line from their annual earnings report. A fiscal bottom line considers all revenues and expenses to give the final profit or loss. However, this doesn’t account for a company’s environmental and social cost, and so these aspects are left unconsidered. To incorporate sustainability in business, this context is essential.
One way to do so is to use the “triple bottom line” approach. As stated in an article by Northeastern University , “Under the triple bottom line framework, a company puts its revenues, expenses, and profits into an environmental and social context. From here, a company may gain a better understanding of costs that can’t be accounted for in a traditional way.”
The article gives the example of a traditional copper mining company. Traditionally, the company would report a net profit through the extraction and sale of copper. However, this profit is the result of rendering acres of land unstable due to mining, as well as polluting a major river due to mining waste, potentially affecting wildlife and the economy of riverside towns.
Under the triple bottom line framework, the company’s profit came at a very high cost — not only to the environment but to the company’s future. Northeastern University continues: “Unless the company worked to correct these problems and prevent them from occurring later, it’s unlikely it will be able to sustain the same level of profitability over the next several years.” In this way, the triple bottom line framework quantifies the environmental and societal impact of a company’s operations so that management can perform more thorough cost-benefit analyses and appropriately decide future actions.
Evaluating your company’s environmental and social impact through such frameworks is crucial to becoming more sustainable in the long-run. Only when you know the complete cost of your company’s operations can you streamline processes to be more eco-friendly.
Our planet is being put under increasing strain due to our lifestyles today. It is up to us to alleviate some of this stress by being greener and choosing more environmentally friendly alternatives. Companies are responsible for their environmental impacts, and it is more important than ever that they remain accountable for their actions and become more sustainable. After all, our actions today will be our legacy to the world of tomorrow.
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