Many businesses make efforts for more sustainable living on their own, without government pressure. These businesses are driven by leaders and employees who want to see real change in how people live in the world. A few small changes by businesses can add up to big effects for the planet. Companies everywhere can follow suit. Here's 7 ways businesses can support sustainability efforts:
1. Work From Home Days
Many businesses are creating flexible work schedules for their employees so that they can work from home or other remote locations. This means fewer cars on the road, less gas being consumed and fewer emissions in the atmosphere.
Even implementing work-from-home days a few times a month can help businesses go green. In addition, many businesses offer incentives for employees to use public transportation, including bus pass reimbursement. By giving employees alternative ways to get to work or to work from home, businesses help keep the environment clean.
2. Local Agriculture
Businesses in many regions can create relationships with local farmers. These local farms can help businesses set up composting and recycling programs in their buildings. The local farms can then collect the compost and use it to help naturally fertilize their fruits and vegetables.
Businesses also partner with these local farmers to offer community supported agriculture (CSA) boxes full of local produce to their employees. When people eat local produce, the environment suffers less because there are fewer long-haul trucks and airplanes involved. Businesses who have cafeterias can work with local farmers to use produce and create seasonal meal offerings that are environmentally-friendly.
For example, restaurants like Chipotle have made efforts to use more locally-grown produce whenever practical. They have also expanded their green efforts that include energy-efficient lighting, VOC-free paints, and use of unbleached paper for its products.1
3. Energy Audits
Businesses who want to be more sustainable can have energy audits. Energy auditors can explain how and where energy is being used and how it might be wasted. Their job consists of trying to find the any spots on in the walls, windows, etc. that could cause leaks and waste unneeded energy and money.
Many businesses already reduce the heating or cooling on nights and weekends. Some have allowed for thermostat control of temperatures in each room to avoid over cooling or heating spaces that are all on the same output. Ceiling fans, curtains and window treatments can help increase energy efficiency within a building as well.
4. Recycling/Upcycling Electronics
Businesses go through a lot of technology to stay current. Instead of letting that tech wind up in landfills, businesses can use recycling programs to offset the environmental impact. In addition, many businesses donate their used computers or other electronic equipment to schools or after-school programs.
Now that STEM is such a big focus, there are community organizations that focus on science and technology education. Businesses can partner with these organizations to offer outdated electronics that can be studied by interested students. Technology can also go to job centers and to women’s shelters to help people get a fresh start in life. By recycling technological equipment, businesses help keep chemicals and metals out of landfills, soil and water.
Companies like R3ewaste has a program to pickup electronics and recycle them for you.2 Their website provides a step-by-step model of what the process should look like. There are many other companies that provide similar services and should consider which one works for your organization.
5. Promote Green Campaigns
Some businesses will put up posters and send emails talking about how employees can do their part to be green. Promoting efforts like carpooling and use of greener products in the workplace and at home can help curb carbon emissions. Supporting fundraising campaigns can be good for public image and improve relations with the community and workers.
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6. Reduce Packaging Waste
Many businesses rely on postal services to get products out to the consumer. However, it is important to consider the amount of packaging material when shipping a product. Plastics are used for items like shrink wrap and bubble wrap can be harder on the environment but can be reused if not completely damaged. Also
You can also print messaging on boxes to encourage buyers to reuse or recycle cardboard boxes. Various inks can be pollutants for the soil and water supply leading to issues down the road. Many environmentally friendly inks, usually soy or water-based, are available for usage.
7. Lean Manufacturing
This type of manufacturing is based on minimizing the wastes produced while not hurting productivity. A reduction in defects, overproduction and excess processing can not only help lower waste but can potentially save money. Viking Plastics is an example of a company striving to apply this production model. They have applied the "2-second lean" model which is based on making smaller daily improvements to manufacturing.3
To learn more about how Grand Canyon University’s Colangelo College of Business teaches future business leaders how to find sustainable solutions, click the Request More Information Button on this page.
1 Diane MacEachern, 8 Fast Food Chains That Serve Local, Organic Food, in May 2021
2 R3ewaste, IT Asset Disposition (ITAD), in May 2021
3 Viking Plastics, Benefits of Lean Manufacturing for Plastic Injection Molding Customers, in May 2021
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.