For Earth Day we should be thinking about how to reduce our impact on the environment.
Last week we covered the importance of Green Marketing. But beyond marketing, we should all be aware of how our business is impacting the environment so we can make a positive difference.
What is Sustainability?
Sustainability can be defined as the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain the ecological balance.
Or, put in simpler terms:
Meeting today’s needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The benefits of sustainability are plenty:
1. Ethical Benefits
I would be remiss without mentioning the ethical benefits of contributing to the greater good by reducing your impact on the environment.
2. Financial Benefits
- The cost of installing on0site sources of renewable energy is decreasing as technologies improve.
- You can also earn subsidies for adding renewable energy sources to your business (or home) operations.
- Further, installing solar panels tends to pay for itself over time (it usually takes 10-20 years but added to the above point, you can achieve cost savings a lot sooner.
- A more sustainable supply chain will also help cut costs.
3. Social Benefits
You can make inroads with a new customer base by adopting the philosophy of sustainability. Many consumers today care that you are doing your part to help the environment. 3/4 of the top 500 US companies have opted to externally audit their environmental impact.
You can also avoid “greenwashing”, a term that means making unsubstantiated claims about how environmentally sound your product is, by taking real steps towards sustainability.
The social benefits also extend to your employees. When you take responsible measures, your employees experience a high level of satisfaction that they are associated with a responsible organization.
Measuring Your Carbon Footprint
Your carbon footprint is an area that businesses of all sizes can make positive moves to move in a positive direction. Everything we do, from our computers to printers to commuting to air travel, impacts our footprint.
There are some effective ways to measure how much carbon emmissions you are putting into the environment, and then making the necessary changes to reduce them.
If you have an office or employees:
Try Terrapass to measure your carbon emmissions.
Terrapass is a great way to consider elements such as:
- Your work site
- Your fleet
- Air travel
When you add all of these areas up, you get an estimate of the amount of CO2 emissions your business activities are responsible for. From there, you are able to make modifications to those activities to reduce your emissions.
If you are a solo or virtual:
If you are a solo or fully virtual business, you may also be able to save on the carbon emissions that come with the production and disposal of your computer and printer usage. In this case, a better solution would be the Carbon Footprint Calculator provided by HP.
With this calculator, you are able to provide the computers and printers used by your virtual office, and see an instant estimation of the amount of CO2 emissions of your online business practices.
B Corporation Certification
Another way to go is to try to achieve a B Corporation Certification rating,. This rating is for businesses of any size that want to experience being a part of a wider community of responsible businesses with a focus on environmental and social sustainability practices.
Notable B Corporations include:
Patagonia, which not only supports activism, but takes responsibility for their entire supply chain, pushing for just working conditions while protecting the environment.
Greyston Bakery supplies products to Ben & Jerry’s, and assists community members returning from incarceration with a workforce development and mentorship program.
Cascade Engineering is a plastics manufacturer that works with the local government to help employees move from welfare to a career and diverts 100% of its waste from landfills.
B Corp Certification is the only certification that measures a company’s entire social and environmental performance. The B Impact Assessment evaluates how your company’s operations and business model impact your workers, community, environment, and customers.Bcorporation.net
The B Corporation Certification is more than just a carbon emissions rating. It is an evaluation of your operations and business practices, and is a more comprehensive overview as to a company’s practices.
Some of the advantages of certifying as a B Corporation include:
- Transparicy with other companies
- Best practices guides
- Customized improvement reports
- Case studies
Whether or not you go for the full certification or you just want to take the test to see where you stack up, it can be beneficial to your business to take movements towards better transparency of business practices. Take the test and start yourself on the road to success.
Moving towards sustainability and eventually zero waste is not just for big businesses. There’s no time like the present to measure and start improving your carbon footprint, and you can get some business benefits as well.