Top 10 Tips for Becoming an Environmental Responsibility Leader
Most businesses, large and small, want to be a positive force in the world. They want to protect the environment and leave their footprint as light as possible on this earth we all share. However, it can be difficult to establish an environmental responsibility program that’s robust enough to make a significant impact on the industry as a whole, or even in your own company. With that said, there are some helpful hints you can use to start down the right path with your new program. Here are 10 tips that will help you take that first step toward becoming an environmental responsibility leader.
1) Reuse Office Supplies
These days, office supplies are generally made from plastic, a material that is non-biodegradable. A business can be environmentally responsible by reusing as many items as possible and by recycling all office supplies that cannot be reused. It’s important to use recycled and recyclable products whenever possible. A few simple changes, such as buying pens without plastic barrels and using only real silverware for takeout food or deliveries, can help with environmental responsibility and reduce environmental pollution.
Start by thinking about what you recycle. Recycling is easy and saves resources, but there’s a lot more that can be done to reduce your business’ environmental impact. Start by taking note of everything you throw away—at work and at home—and see if any of it could be reused or repurposed instead. Cutting down on waste will save you money on packaging and transportation, as well as help your company comply with state, federal, and international regulations.
Corporate philanthropy is key to environmental responsibility. For example, in 2009 Patagonia donated 25% of its Black Friday sales to organizations dedicated to preserving earth’s land and water. When you start a business, consider giving back to your community; it will demonstrate your commitment to environmental responsibility, get you involved with local businesses and non-profits, and help develop a stronger rapport with your customers. The effect of your donations might be small at first (especially if you’re just starting out), but every little bit helps. For more information on how giving back fits into a plan for business growth, check out How Nonprofit Marketing Fits Into Your Business Growth Plan .
4) Say No
It’s difficult to juggle new responsibilities on top of all your other work, and giving people what they want sometimes means saying yes when you should be saying no. However, if you’re trying to establish yourself as a leader in environmental responsibility, it may not be wise to take on every task that comes your way. Keep in mind that becoming a leader doesn’t necessarily mean taking on more work—but it does mean establishing yourself as someone who can handle large projects without getting bogged down by minor details or shifting priorities. Focusing on one big project at a time will make you look like a reliable leader and keep your schedule clear of any smaller projects that might pull you away from what really matters.
5) Use Natural Resources Wisely
It’s easy to forget that natural resources exist in limited supply, but those resources are vital to keeping your business running. That includes energy sources and raw materials like metal ores, coal, precious metals and wood. Nowadays, many of these crucial elements can be recycled rather than consumed (like aluminum cans or paper), so consider every choice you make about how you use natural resources as a chance to create efficiency. This can save money in both short-term costs (less waste) and long-term costs (using fewer resources to produce your product). It also saves on labor cost since you don’t have to extract new raw materials or produce new products from scratch.
6) Think Green When Hiring Employees
If you want to be a leader in environmental responsibility, there’s one thing you can do right now: think green when hiring employees. The kinds of people who work at environmentally responsible companies share a few things in common. They believe that they are here to protect and improve not just the world around them but their own careers as well. Make sure that your job listings specify that those who apply must be environmentally responsible. This helps make sure that you attract only those candidates who align with your core beliefs and will help create a cohesive team with shared values. Hiring employees based on their ability to adhere to your company culture is also one of many ways to ensure quality control; individuals with similar ideals will often work together better than disparate teams.
7) Respectfully Dispose of Waste Properly
When disposing of waste, businesses need to pay special attention to how they treat their garbage. All businesses generate some form of trash, including cardboard boxes and broken office equipment. Although it may be tempting to throw away these items in a public dumpster or on your own curb, you are putting not only yourself at risk but also your community at risk. Any business owner can take steps toward becoming more environmentally responsible by having a basic understanding of what items can be recycled and which cannot. It is also important to make sure that you always dispose of your trash properly by getting rid of potentially hazardous materials before they pose a threat to anyone who comes into contact with them.
8) Purchase Green Products
As a company grows, it’s critical to educate your employees on environmental responsibility. Making sure they understand your business goals and role in local communities is key in keeping everyone working towards a common goal of sustainability. Empower your employees by encouraging them to become involved with their local communities and schools through volunteer efforts, school supply drives or food donations. For example, Chobani—the yogurt giant—has pledged that every single one of its 300-plus manufacturing facilities worldwide will be powered completely by renewable energy within two years. That’s no small feat! While that takes some real dedication to make happen, setting those goals are what will give employees hope about getting there. At the very least, these kinds of commitments inspire other companies to match (or beat) you.
9) Consider Alternative Transportation Options
One of the most common ways businesses are becoming more environmentally responsible is through adjusting their travel plans. The first thing you can do is consider alternative transportation options when traveling within your own city or to and from a business trip. If your company has a carpool, or if public transportation works best for you, look into using these options instead of driving alone. Another way to stay environmentally friendly on business trips is by staying in nearby hotels; one less vehicle will be traveling to and from your hotel every day. Some hotels are even working toward becoming green themselves by offering services like organic food at their restaurants and amenities like guest laundry that allow guests to reduce energy consumption with each wash cycle.
10) Ensure Employees Become Aware Of Environmental Priorities
People are usually more open to making changes when it’s easier to do so, and if your business employs others, you can make these changes much easier by ensuring they’re aware of environmental priorities. You could have a meeting where you go over some of the biggest environmental risks that their actions could cause, or even assign each employee with a specific goal in order to create accountability. Some goals might be turning off lights when they leave work or finding ways to waste less paper. Encouraging your employees to be mindful of their impact on our planet will only help you improve at becoming an environmentally responsible leader.