As individuals, we do what we can to be kind to the planet. We may be diligent about bringing a reusable bag to the grocery store or forgo plastic water bottles for refillable ones. At Clove & Twine, our team pedals stationary bikes to power our laptops.*
*No, not really. But who knows, maybe we’ll start a trend in 2023? “An entirely employee-powered office. Literally.”
Although these individual green choices are valuable efforts, they are a drop in the bucket regarding the sustainable impact that entire companies can make by adjusting their practices. Consumers are also beginning to make more earth-friendly choices, with a report** showing that 66% of consumer survey respondents in 2019 (and 75% of millennial respondents) consider sustainability when making a purchase.
This survey also revealed that younger generations are increasingly willing to pay more for products that make a less negative impact on the planet. In a nutshell, future consumers demand that companies make sustainable changes by voting with their dollars. Forward-thinking businesses will lead the way and start making environmentally friendly changes now.
How can your business do more to battle climate change while supporting customers' needs? Here are a few helpful tips for making your company more sustainable.
Ways Companies Can Fight Climate Change: Sustainability Tips for Businesses
CONSIDER OVERALL WASTE PRACTICES.
Many companies have recycling bins, but as the saying goes, we should be reducing waste first, then reusing, and recycling as a last resort. Take a toll of in-office waste, and ask:
- Are you stocking single-use plasticware, paper plates, coffee cups, stir sticks, or plastic water bottles? How can you encourage employees to reduce and reuse?
- Can food waste be reduced or even composted? (About 24% of waste in landfills comes from food, which emits methane.)
- Do employees have an easy way to wash and dry dishes and mugs?
- Can water waste be reduced?
- Can printer paper be used less or be more efficiently recycled?
Examining the waste that goes out each day can help save costs down the road and help reduce what ends up in a landfill.
LOOK AT YOUR EMISSIONS.
One of the big culprits causing climate change is greenhouse gas emissions. On a personal level, shutting off your car's engine if you'll be idling for over a minute is certainly helpful for reducing emissions. But for large companies, emissions are magnified when accounting for the supply chain. With items continuously being shipped, driven, and flown from far-away countries (which rely on fuel and coal-fired power plants), companies need to find creative solutions to reduce emissions.
Some companies seek cleaner energy sources or more energy-responsible shipping options. Others may counteract emissions by supporting reforestation as a natural way to reduce or remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Have a professional measure your greenhouse gas emissions, see which business practices create the highest levels of pollutants, then use the data to fuel change.
Another action you can take is to work with Climate Neutral Certified. They make connections between companies looking to offset and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. With government policies falling short of their promises, actions like this puts the power back in your hands in reducing your company’s carbon footprint.
ALLOW EMPLOYEES TRANSPORTATION FLEXIBILITY.
This tip goes hand-in-hand with company culture and employee wellness, but consider evolving your company practices with the future of work. Many businesses have moved to a hybrid environment, some even going fully remote. Supporting less unnecessary commuting or the use of public transportation will go a long way. In Colorado we have the EcoPass, which can be purchased for employees to support the use of the LightRail or bus system.
Another major pollutant with transportation is business travel. The pandemic has shown us that we can conduct many meetings over a video call, so assess whether or not business travel is essential. You'll save employees time, reduce unnecessary travel costs, and reduce your company's carbon footprint.
PARTNER WITH SUSTAINABLE SUPPLIERS.
When you choose to purchase goods from companies that are already working to be as sustainable as possible, you create a cascade of change all the way down the supply chain.
We prioritize partnering with sustainable suppliers and encourage others to do the same. We know that by deciding to work with other businesses with the same passion for environmental issues, our impact goes even further. Ask the suppliers that you work with what their practices are, and start comparing those practices with others to see how they measure up. Making a switch to more eco-friendly suppliers can significantly decrease overall waste.
RAISE AWARENESS, INTERNALLY AND EXTERNALLY.
Sustainability is a fundamental company value. Spread the word about what you're doing, and it may inspire others to do the same. This includes communicating the value to employees as well. If your team understands this value, they will know that their efforts make a difference, whether at work or home. Get employees passionate about environmental issues by organizing team building clean-up days or setting up a tree planting event. You can foster team bonding while at the same time grounding your company in environmental responsibility.
ASSESS DAY-TO-DAY ENERGY CONSUMPTION.
Upgrade your offices to LED lighting and look at how efficient the heating/cooling systems are. Make it a habit to turn off lights or install motion-sensor lights that automatically shut off when certain areas aren’t used. Lower heat or A/C during off-work hours, and get smart power strips that shut off power supply through cords when plugged devices are in standby mode or turned off (since devices plugged into a standard outlet still passively use energy). Just a handful of these changes can make a big difference when it comes to making your work more eco-friendly.
We’re excited about some of the planet-friendly changes we made in 2021 as a company. Last year, we effectively:
Partnered with One Tree Planted in September, donating $1 from every shipment sent, helping them plant over 22,000 trees (they planted over 23 million trees total in 2021)
- Switched from using clear plastic tape for shipping to recyclable/biodegradable kraft tape
- Reused hundreds of pounds of packing materials and cardboard inserts for shipments, saving those items from the landfill
- Replaced plastic packing wrap and bubble paper with more sustainable kraft paper for protecting items for shipment
- Worked with over 50 sustainable suppliers all over the world
- Donated over $100K to sustainable non-profits through 1% for the Planet
Although we’re super proud of the advances we’ve made, there is still a lot more work that needs to be done. We continue to examine our practices and look to do even more this year and into the future. Earth is the only planet we have, and we kind of like it.
We can't hammer these points home enough: sustainable choices can help to lower overall costs, retain customer loyalty, and create a better future for all. Yes, certain changes can cost money up-front, such as updating light fixtures to low-energy alternatives, installing solar panels, or adding compost bins and food waste pick-up. However, numerous other adjustments can help offset the cost (such as smaller offices and less business travel). Additionally, the value added to new and returning customers is exponential - and only projected to increase.
On top of all that, we think it feels pretty darn good to be green.
According to the New York Times, Google would ideally like to have all of their operations run by means that don't create greenhouse gases by 2030. Maybe when we get the bike-powered laptops rolled out in our offices, they'll take a cue from us.
Are you inspired to make more sustainable choices for your corporate gifts? Let’s get started.
**"The State of Fashion 2020." Consumer report by McKinsey & Company.
“What’s Really Behind Corporate Promises on Climate Change?” by Peter Eavis & Clifford Krauss. The New York Times. Published Feb. 22, 2021 / Updated May 12, 2021.
“The global eco-wakening: how consumers are driving sustainability.” by Cristianne Close. World Economic Forum. May 18, 2021.
“5 Steps Businesses Can Take to Fight Climate Change.” by Ryan Deer. Roadrunner Recycling. Aug. 26, 2021.
“10 Actions Companies Can Adopt To Fight Climate Change.” by Clément Fournier. Youmatter. Published Sept. 26th, 2017.