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How Can a Business Reduce Its Environmental Impacts?

How Can a Business Reduce Its Environmental Impacts?

We all know how, as individuals, we have to be aware of the environmental impacts of our decisions. That responsibility should also be borne by businesses. Fortunately there is no conflict as many environmentally positive actions align with the primary goal of making a profit; in fact these actions can cut costs. Here are some suggestions for business owners:

Monitor Your Energy Use

Energy, whether it is electricity, natural gas, or gasoline, usually shows up as a few hefty lines in a company’s expenses. The same advice you might hear for your household applies for commercial operations:

  • Use energy efficient equipment and appliances. Switch your lighting from incandescent or CFL to LED. Keep your thermostats higher in the summer and lower in winter.
  • Having a full energy audit done by a professional will help you find new ways to save, and it will eventually pay for itself in lowered energy costs – check with your state for incentive programs.
  • Ask your electricity provider if they offer power from renewable energy sources. It may increase costs, but this can help build your image and become part of your marketing approach.
  • In terms of work vehicles, carefully evaluate your true needs. That heavy duty full-size pickup truck sure looks good when visiting construction sites, but you are spending much more than you need in purchase cost and fuel if all it hauls is a roll of blueprints, a hard hat, and a laptop.

Reduce Pre-Consumer Waste

Carefully examine your material supply chain and production processes for ways to minimize production waste. Your suppliers can help by providing you with the material sizes or volumes that best suit your needs. When there is production waste, try to find ways to re-integrate it somewhere in the production cycle.  Use materials that bear a third-party sustainability certification (for example, Forest Stewardship Council certification for wood products, Rainforest Alliance for coffee or chocolate). Any use of sustainability certified products can also be included in your marketing.

Help Your Employees Make Green Choices

Instead of out-of-town travel, encourage your employees to conduct meetings via teleconference, and video conference. As for employee training, many opportunities exist for web-based training sessions, saving more in travel costs, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Further climate change mitigation measures can include incentives for alternative transportation: you can provide bicycle parking, organize shifts around public transportation schedules, or maybe even provide a power outlet for all-electric vehicles. Perhaps just as important as any of these measures, be receptive to your employees’ ideas and suggestions for sustainability.

Green Grounds: Show Your Commitment

When designing or improving your buildings and grounds, show your commitment to a healthier environment. Choose a landscaping company which uses sustainable products. Select native plants, and avoid invasive species. Prevent sediment pollution by controlling water runoff from your property. To do that, you can direct rain from impervious surfaces like roofs to a rain garden planted to intercept excess water.

Help Your Customers Make Green Choices

Provide information to your customers so that they too can reduce their environmental footprint. Depending on the business you are in, it could mean helping them with finding greener lawn care solutions, reducing kitchen waste, and reducing energy use by washing clothes in cold water or driving less. They will be grateful as it may reduce their expenses too, and will be more likely to reward you with loyalty. And just as you should do with employees, be receptive to their sustainability suggestions.

Invest in Your Community

Following the simple sustainability measures outlined here are such obvious ways to simultaneously cut costs that many may suspect your true motivations, perhaps to the point of accusing you of greenwashing. Show your true concern for the environment by taking extra steps, and none beat demonstrating your commitment by partnering up with local environmental organizations with similar goals. Sponsor a local beach cleanup, a birding festival, or a sustainability fair. Donate supplies for fundraising events at your local land trust. In essence, show that you care about the health of your community and that of the environment.

What Is Greenwashing?

It is when a business misleads the public about the environmental soundness of its products or activities. With the sole goal to increase profits, some companies use this unscrupulous strategy in order to exploit people’s desire to make environmentally responsible consumer choices.

A group named TerraChoice, a division of the safety certification company Underwriters Laboratories (UL), periodically examines the trends in deceitful environmental claims. They having identified seven ways companies commit greenwashing:

Hidden Trade-Off

A small component of a product’s manufacturing process may be green, but other important aspects are ignored and continue to be environmentally damaging.

Lack of Evidence

Manufacturers often offer no evidence to support their claim of environmental soundness. Without confirmation by an independent organization (for example a third party certificate provider), such claims may not be reliably verified.

Vagueness

Very commonly, manufacturers will use imprecise terms designed to fool the customer into thinking a product is superior to another because of its green attributes.

Terra Choice provides examples of labels we have all seen: “Environmentally-Friendly”, Earth-Friendly, and “Environment Safe”.

Irrelevance

An irrelevant claim declares the absence of a harmful product which is not likely to be used anyway in the manufacturing of the product, or is even already banned.

Lesser of Two Evils

A large sport utility vehicle may boast the lowest greenhouse gas emissions when compared to other large SUVs, but it still is a highly polluting vehicle with no redeeming environmental qualities.

Falsehoods

This category includes outright lies about a product. For example, when the car manufacturer Volkswagen claimed that their small diesel motors produced low NOx emissions.

False Labels

Some independent organizations license the use of a label to communicate to customers that the product bearing it has some kind of environmental quality. Some manufacturers deceitfully use similar labels or badges to pretend that the product has received third party certification while in fact it has not.

In their latest evaluation of the greenwashing trends, TerraChoice visited 34 stores in the United States and Canada, and cataloged 5,296 home and family products. Of those, the vast majority committed some form of greenwashing. The most common issues encountered belonged in the hidden trade-off, lack of evidence, and vagueness categories. Industries with a longer tradition of improving the environmental footprint of their products were also those least likely to employ greenwashing strategies. These industries include construction and wood products, office supplies, and cleaning products.

Recent trends observed include the multiplication of false labels made to appear as providing some sort of third-party certification ensuring environmental quality. Vague claims are superimposed on an official-looking seal, sometimes imitating legitimate certification programs like Green Seal, USDA Organic, the Environmental Protection Agency’s EnergyStar, or the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label.

Remarkably, the type of business where green claims were the most likely to be legitimate were big box stores, when compared to specialty retailers and even green boutique stores. As an alternative to greenwashing, it is possible for businesses to take steps toward environmental sustainability which will at the same time help with profitability.

About the author: Nicholas H. Parker is a business coach and marketing manager with a huge experience. He writes articles for those who want to buy essay papers to develop their knowledge. He is highly interested in the web design sphere.

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Submitted Exclusively to CrystalWind.ca  by Nicholas H. Parker © 2020 crystalwind.ca

About the author:

About the author: Nicholas H. Parker is a business coach and marketing manager with a huge experience. He writes articles for those who want to buy essay papers to develop their knowledge. He is highly interested in the web design sphere.


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