Nine out of 10 consumers would purchase a product if the company cared about a cause they cared about, and 8 out of 10 would want companies to help address social injustices. The same study found that 63% of Americans would love to see businesses taking the lead in driving social and environmental change if government regulation were nonexistent.
What does this mean? This goes to show that, now more than ever, businesses are compelled to make and implement impactful, sustainable business decisions. Below are a few practices that can make a difference.
1. Forging partnerships with NGOs
If you’re new to sustainable business planning, the learning curve can be extensive. Whether you are working alone or as part of a committee in coming up with a sustainability plan, things can get overwhelming. To avoid this, forge partnerships with nonprofit organizations.
Identify the space that you are interested in and find nonprofit organizations that work on them. These organizations have the experience and resources that can help you get started. Whatever issues you want to focus on, you are most likely to find an NGO to partner with and guide you through making impactful plans and decisions.
2. Involving the employees
Another important thing to remember is that the success of your sustainability strategy lies in the support and cooperation of the employees. Take the time to train your employees on sustainable practices and give them a platform to share their ideas on how to continuously drive the movement forward. Empower your employees by reminding them that what they do matters and creates an impact and that everyone has a role to play in keeping the business sustainable, and socially and environmentally responsible.
When done well, the employees’ involvement in sustainable practices at work will eventually reflect in their personal lives — whether it’s through using less plastic at home, preferring refurbished mobile phones over brand-new ones, or starting power-saving habits.
Lastly, instill the culture of volunteerism. Encourage them to volunteer for their charities and causes of choice by providing volunteer time off at least a day or two every year.
3. Revisiting your supply chain
Your supply chain can present a lot of opportunities to embrace sustainability. Get to know how your vendors source their materials if you haven’t. Is there an opportunity to reduce your company’s consumption of natural resources? For instance, you can help reduce plastic waste by changing the way you package your products.
Your sustainability plan must also include reducing your company’s carbon footprint. This can include the use of automated sensors that will ensure that the heating, cooling, and electricity are shut off automatically when not in use. Consider shifting to solar or wind power as a source, as well as energy-efficient lighting, toilets, and faucets.
4. Setting up a recycling program
Championing a recycling program at work takes commitment. The first thing that you need to do is to determine who is going to take the lead on this effort. Whether it’s one person or a volunteer group, the ones in charge should be able to communicate the purpose, guidelines, and expectations well.
Depending on the size of your workplace, identify which materials you are recycling. Properly label trash bins so that employees know where to put each type of trash. Next, find a pick-up provider for your recyclables if you are unable to drop them off yourselves.
It is also important to coordinate with the company custodian and janitorial team regarding your recycling program. They are more likely to contribute useful information when it comes to employee behavior that you might not know about.
Companies and their best sustainable business practices
Here are a few companies that have embraced sustainability. See how they implement their sustainability plans and promote conscious consumption.
Ford Motor Company –
Over the years, the company has been using renewable materials. In 2018, they have reduced their global waste by more than 5%, and have been reducing their water use by 14.5% for almost 12 years now. They plan to use 100% renewable energy by the year 2035.
Ben & Jerry’s –
The company is well known for being forward-thinking when it comes to environmental sustainability. Since the early 2000s, they have been actively lowering their carbon footprint and running global warming campaigns. All of their products are made of non-GMO ingredients, and they have invested in supply and manufacturing chains that help them lower their carbon footprint.
Considered one of the most sustainable clothing companies, Patagonia allocates one percent of its revenues to environmental organizations. They also conduct workshops where consumers learn how to repair their own clothes — or the company fixes them. Patagonia also gathers its bicycle-loving employees in an annual event to promote sustainable travel. They aim to be CO2 neutral by the year 2025.