3 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Implement Sustainable Practices In 2022

The holidays may be over, but the weather outside remains frightful. The wildfires aren’t so delightful. Our ever-warming planet is angry and climate-related chaos has become a year-round reality, from a rare December inferno in Colorado that destroyed hundreds of homes to extreme heat waves in the Pacific Northwest last summer that claimed hundreds of lives.

The world awaits answers. As such, the popular business public-relations move these days is to go all-in on sustainability and net-zero carbon initiatives. Some companies and corporations are positioning themselves more aggressively than others. Ford Motor Co. pledges to be net-zero by 2050; Verizon plans to be there by 2035; and Microsoft says it’ll reach zero carbon emissions by 2030 and that it’ll remove all carbon it has emitted since 1975.

On the surface, these are wonderful developments. But time will tell if it’s all a case of too little, too late. As we all wait and see, what else could smaller business owners and intrepid entrepreneurs be doing to infuse more sustainability into their operations as climate change continues to enforce its will on our vulnerable society?

Research Finds More Talk Than Action

Perception and reality are often two different things, and that’s highlighted by a Deloitte survey released in mid-January 2022 that finds 63% of C-suite executives believe their companies are leading the charge when it comes to climate-change initiatives and actions. The reality? Less than one-fifth (19%) of those same companies are following through with real action in a multipronged approach, such as developing new, climate-friendly products and services or tying senior leadership compensation to sustainability performance.

That’s the rub: Words don’t mean much in this debate. Action — bold, drastic, decisive, innovative, fearless action — is all that matters. Too often, talking about sustainability turns out to be a bunch of hot air, like world leaders flying on private jets to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow last fall. What the plight of humankind needs are businesses and brands (and governments, too) that do at least as much walking as talking when it comes to carbon neutrality and mitigating climate change.

Global citizens are paying attention like never before, which puts startup and small-business leaders in a particularly advantageous position to be on the right side of history and start highlighting the ways they are committed to ongoing sustainability efforts. Today’s educated and emotional consumer base puts its money where its heart is, and taking a pro-environment stance is a great way for dynamic entrepreneurs to earn green while going green at the same time.

How Companies Can Start Somewhere Small

Companies shouldn’t feel pressured to solve all of climate’s conundrums alone or in one fell swoop. This dilemma will only be solved with an accumulation of actions, even if they seem insignificantly small at first blush. Here are just a few places to focus your efforts:

1. Understand and unify your environmental data.

Businesses have access to data about everything — bounce rates for website visitors, best time of day to send marketing correspondence, repeat buyers, transportation logistics. Environmental information — how much energy is used to power the office, pollution levels, soil quality, and many other impacts — is just as valuable as any other data set within a company’s grasp. Prioritizing environmental data and working to better understand it is the most logical first step when auditing one’s sustainability thresholds.

“Organizations that endeavor to reach a state of sustainable operations will need to understand their environmental impact across their entire value chain,” says Srini Pallia, CEO for Americas at Wipro (a leading global information technology, consulting, and business process services company) and a member of the Wipro Executive Board. “To understand footprint and impact, they must start with understanding and unifying data, which requires a digital services platform that allows open data formats and data democratization.”

2. Set aside budget for organizations that help combat climate change.

Working on your own in-house sustainability initiatives is commendable, but the climate-change problem persists until everyone is rowing in the same direction. When you allocate a portion of profits or operating expenses toward bolstering the organizations with boots on the ground, we all benefit from the increased investment in sustainability.

Dozens of nonprofits have dedicates themselves to particular facets of climate action, from education (Climate Reality Project) and wildlife conservation (Audubon Society) to renewable power (Alliance to Save Energy) and sustainable commerce (1% For The Planet). Pick one (or a dozen) and make regular contributions, either financially or in the form of volunteer support. Beyond that, see if your employees are willing to chip in for the cause. Such a teamwide commitment can boost morale and strengthen the company’s moral fabric.

3. Host more virtual meetings/events to reduce your carbon footprint.

Forgoing a five-day business conference in Cabo may be a tough proposition, but do you really need to spend the funds (and add more carbon to the atmosphere) on such activities? The pandemic taught a lot of companies a quick financial lesson: Staying home is far safer and much less expensive, both in terms of money spent and carbon footprint generated.

Same goes for just about all meetings and events that used to be held in an office building — what’s wrong with using services like Zoom and Microsoft Teams to connect and collaborate? We’ve witnessed firsthand that working in these remote ways is doable. Let’s keep doing it in the name of sustainability.

Source: Forbes


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