Green Business: Corporate Responsibility to the Environment
According to the Carbon Majors Report, 70 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide (or greenhouse gas) emissions come from just 100 companies. Half of the world’s industrial emissions come from only 25 big businesses. This begs the question of whether or not businesses and corporations should be held accountable for their carbon footprints, as it naturally takes many resources to run successful companies. Some of the world’s largest companies, such as Honda, McCormick, Pearson, and Samsung decided that it is their responsibility, and implemented sustainable business practices.
What is a sustainable business? The University of North Florida (UNF) Center for Sustainable Business Practices defines a sustainable business as one that is economically viable, socially responsible and environmentally friendly. This model of planet, people, profit is also known as the triple bottom line. The purpose of sustainability is to help businesses see how actions on one side of the world can affect people and environments on the other side. Sustainability calls for accountability and keeps businesses from becoming disconnected from the communities that support them. Businesses often participate in advocacy campaigns and events that not only support people and the environment on a global scale, but focus on local initiatives as well. Additionally, sustainable businesses know that what they do now will impact future generations.
How can businesses practice sustainability? There are a number of simple steps every company can take. The Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) outlines five ways in which companies can reduce their carbon footprints and positively impact communities. The first step is to set a target. Businesses should determine by how much they want to reduce their carbon footprints and how much time it will take to do it. Secondly, it is important to engage with the community and get people involved. Community engagement not only boosts brand reputation, it furthers the company’s initiative. The third and fourth steps are to embrace change and innovation and to collaborate with other leaders and organizations. Finally, when practicing sustainability, businesses have to consider the future. According to the CISL, flooding in 2013 due to climate change cost businesses in the United Kingdom £15bn (more than $19 billion in United States dollars). To practice sustainability now lowers the risk of costly natural disasters in the future.
It takes many resources to run a successful business. Thus, it is only natural that companies and corporations take it upon themselves to make sure operations are run in the most ethical and environmentally friendly ways possible. Responsible sourcing of materials, whether it is office supplies or manufacturing goods, coupled with energy conservation and community outreach go a long way. Many office spaces repurpose and recycle paper and plastic, as well as large items such as old furniture and technological appliances. For example, computer companies often take or buy back devices that are no longer in use. Opportunities to operate sustainably are all around. With seven billion people sharing a single planet, it is up to everyone – including corporations – to keep the earth spinning.