Sustainability is an increasingly important issue for many people, especially in the business world.
Climate change continues to affect our lives as well as the fate of all other species around the planet. For business owners, leaders, and administrators, sustainable business practices are becoming imperatives. According to NASA, it’s more than 95% likely that human activity is causing the planet to get warmer. Human industry is a big part of the climate change picture because of its reliance on land, resources, fossil fuels, and non-stop production and consumption.
Making businesses more sustainable starts with being aware of the issue at hand and understanding just how important it is to make changes — both for the business and the planet. The intent of this resource is to help business owners, administrators, and leaders make their organizations more environmentally aware. Here, you’ll find a working definition of sustainability in business, an explanation of its importance, identification of the key players, a discussion of benefits and challenges, as well as information on how to improve sustainability in business.
Business sustainability is the practice of operating a business without impacting the environment negatively. A green business functions in the best interests of the local and global environment, meaning it supports the community and economy dependent on a healthy planet. An environmentally aware business considers more than just profits — it considers its impact on society and the environment. Such a business is sustainable because it contributes to the health of the structure within which it operates, thereby helping construct an environment in which the business can thrive.
A sustainable business adheres to the triple bottom line, a term coined in 1994 by John Elkington, the founder of a British consultancy called SustainAbility. The three components of the triple bottom line are profits, people, and the planet. A sustainable business earns profits by being socially responsible and protecting our use of the planet’s resources.
Becoming more sustainable in an effective way may not be easy at first, but the challenge is well worth the reward. Successful entrepreneurs, owners, and leaders look at problems as opportunities. Now is your opportunity to embrace sustainability and implement innovative strategies in the process. Some creative business planning can help you determine specific and unique strategies that will work for your business. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Start Recycling at Work
Recycling is beneficial: it keeps trash out of the landfill and the incinerator, and it creates 757,000 jobs annually. If your workplace doesn’t already do so, start recycling. If your workplace is already recycling, take a moment to read up on the recycling laws in your area to make sure you’re doing it correctly. It’s easy for everyone to get lazy and put items in the trash bin when they’re at work. Provide ample recycling bins in the workplace, make sure they’re labeled for the types of items that go in them, and if your city has a composting program, take advantage of it.
Encourage Green Commuting
The daily commute is a daily drain on the environment: each day, people waste 2.9 billion gallons of gas stuck in traffic, and each person forfeits $710 in productivity per year. Green commuting could have a huge impact on the environment by cutting down on daily emissions — encourage employees to do so when possible. Biking, carpooling, and taking the bus are all forms of green commuting that can help your employees contribute to sustainability both in and out of the workplace. Also, there are inexpensive scooters and electric bikes for those employees who live too far away to ride a regular bike.
Offer Remote Work Options
Remote work is technically another type of green commute, as it keeps drivers and cars off of the roads. Some positions do not allow for remote work, but if the work can be done outside of the office, allow people to take advantage of it. Remote workers have the same impact on the environment as planting a forest of trees: they eliminate 3.6 billion tons of greenhouse gases caused by commuting annually. Working remotely also helps people avoid health risks associated with commuting.
Despite the rise of digital technology, many organizations still use more paper than necessary. Computers, smartphones, and other devices are integrated into the workplace; use them to their fullest extent and avoid using paper whenever possible.
Create a Sustainability Committee
Selecting a team of volunteers who are responsible for sustainability initiatives in the workplace can do wonders for your efforts. It creates accountability — there are people specifically responsible for this, and they can take care to follow up with others and bolster a culture of sustainability in the workplace. Moreover, a committee will keep the ideas flowing. Task them with talking to other employees about challenges and ideas, and give them the power to make decisions.
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