Acting in an environmentally responsible way is not only a moral imperative and legal duty, it makes good business sense too.
With 72 per cent of British adults now ‘very’ or ‘fairly’ concerned about impacts of climate change it stands to reason that consumers are becoming more demanding of brands to reduce their environmental footprint.
In fact, 88% of consumers want brands to help them live sustainably, according to Futerra’s survey of over 1,000 consumers in the USA and UK.
Minimising waste, reducing energy use, preventing pollution, using raw materials where essential and having ethical practices that help local workers are some of the ways businesses can do this.
Increasing your environmental credentials can in turn help you reduce costs and improve efficiency, ensure you’re complying with the law and increase business opportunities by meeting customer demand for sustainable business practice.
Instilling environmentally friendly practices can also help local communities and makes employees feel good about the place they work, making it easier to attract, keep and motivate staff.
The case for businesses to be more green is compelling.
Here’s some ways your business could be more environmentally friendly.
If you want to help your consumers, start with how they use your products and look at the behaviour change needed to make a more positive impact.
Laundry detergent company Ariel was one of the first to encourage more environmentally friendly clothes washing when it started asking us to ‘turn to 30’.
The simplest step is to promote the Good Life Goals through your marketing.
2. Think about your post-purchase impact
In many countries governments are considering imposing what is called Extended Producer Responsibility, which makes manufacturers responsible for the environmental impact of their products and the associated packaging when they become waste.
This can involve activities such as:
- Arranging waste collections, recycling or other suitable disposal
- Designing all products for re-use or recyclability. This is also known as a circular economy as it essentially produces zero waste.
- Creating take back programmes
A big part of EPR also involves engaging and encouraging the public to take responsible action with regard to an organisation’s products.
3. Carry out a waste audit
The University of Montana led a review of their own waste to see if new recycling bins in their residence halls made a difference to what was deposited or not.
As a result they found some students weren’t aware of the local recycling process, so they made an effort to increase awareness and, in turn, boost the usage of the bins.
Your organisation or business could office waste to see which departments produce the most and use that information to come up with a more sustainable waste-reduction or recycling plan.
4. Public transport
Facebook has offered a $10,000 bonus to employees for moving closer to the corporate office to reduce the number of employees who drove to work.
If that’s too much, you could encourage your staff to bike or walk to work or try to take public transport.
You may consider creating online or offline forums where employees can arrange to car share, or establish incentive schemes with local bus or train companies.
5. Overseas standards
Unfortunately there are plenty of companies whose ethical standards are simply not up to scratch, particularly in the fashion industry.
Brain damaged little boys suffering because of the pesticides used to grow the cotton that puts the shirt on our back, are a direct result of some brands’ dirty overseas practices.
In fact the International Labour Organisation estimates that 170 million children are engaged in child labour, with many making textiles and garments to satisfy the demand of consumers in Europe, the US, and beyond.
But it’s not just an issue for the fashion industry. A range of sectors from fashion to the supply of prawns to UK supermarkets – has been implicated in the use of slave labour.
Businesses need to ensure the supply chain for their products are completely above board through good research and regularly reviewing and revising contracts.
By doing so they can ensure not only more ethical practices, but be more environmentally friendly too.
Take the example of Walmart, which supplies some of their beef from Brazil, where many ranchers cut down trees to create grazing space for their cattle.
Walmart is now working to remove deforestation from its supply chain completely by collaborating with local governments to drive sustainable development in their sourcing region.
6. Manufacturing and industrial practices
Some companies never start plans to go green because the process seems too intimidating, but with small steps it’s achievable.
Businesses could look at using renewable energy, conserving water and generating less waste, as a starting point.
7. Divest from fossil fuels
Show your customers and clients you care about climate change by making sure any investments your organisation or business do not include fossil fuels.