In a world that is becoming increasingly aware of the effects of climate change, one sector of the community holds most of the cards – businesses. The top fifteen U.S. food and beverage companies alone generate more greenhouse gases every year than the entire continent of Australia. Change at this level can make waves, yet business owners may not know how to start on the path toward a sustainable and eco-friendly future.
The good news? The future of green has arrived, and businesses have many routes to reforming business practices, buildings, and manufacturing standards to adapt.
Get Educated on the Risks of Climate Change
Businesses and individuals alike have a responsibility to understand the threats climate change carries for the planet. Unfortunately, threats of misinformation can be a significant setback for change. In this digital age of social media and 24/7 news, you have a lot of resources on climate change right at your fingertips – make sure what you find is accurate.
Here are the facts. In 2021, the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report found that the top five global risks to well-being and prosperity are all environmental. One of the biggest risks? Extreme weather events, which the world has already seen with the deadly Australian wildfires and other examples from recent years.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes rising global average temperatures since 1901. Eight of the top 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1998. Other key indicators of climate change include intense global precipitation, tropical cyclone activity, flooding, and drought.
Another alarming issue – for corporate entities specifically – is the impact of climate change on business profits. A recent study by the United Nations found that a group of the world’s biggest companies has valued their collective climate risks at almost $1 trillion. Businesses have both environmental and financial incentives to make positive changes to combat climate change.
Research Environmentally-Friendly Solutions
While large corporations may be the biggest culprits contributing to climate change, they aren’t alone in having to find solutions. As Yale Climate Connections notes, in order to combat the growing climate crisis, nearly every facet of modern society will have to make significant contributions to emission reduction.
Business owners can use their leadership and management skills to reduce their companies’ carbon footprints and make a huge difference – and it doesn’t take much to accomplish. The following considerations showcase some of the most impactful solutions businesses could apply to benefit the environment.
How do employees get to work every day? Chances are good the majority of them drive a personal vehicle. A recent study by the EPA found that light-duty vehicles such as cars and SUVs collectively produce the most emissions (more than semi-trucks, ships, trains, and planes).
One simple way to combat this? Offer special benefits to employees who carpool or take public transportation to work. Businesses who plan their locations to boost local transit and walkability benefit from greener practices and a more engaged workforce.
For businesses in the manufacturing sector, using materials and packaging that can be more easily recycled is a great place to start. Fewer plastics and more paper drives the needle toward sustainability. An example would be to package products in cardboard rather than shrink-wrap and styrofoam.
Businesses that aren’t in the manufacturing sector but still purchase manufactured goods (office supplies, equipment, etc.), should plan to shop from eco-friendly companies who make their products from environmentally-friendly materials.
A major culprit of direct and indirect emissions is the physical buildings businesses are located in. Commercial businesses can help reduce direct emissions by replacing fossil-fuel-burning heating and cooking systems with all-electric systems, recycling or composting waste, and maintaining your HVAC system to minimize refrigerant leaks.
Additionally, if you’re renovating or building your business storefront, choosing green building solutions can help reduce the waste associated with new materials and outdated construction processes. Selected materials should be recyclable and offer low emissions to offset the waste associated with building and keep corporate environments greener for years to come.
Green Means Eco-Friendly and Profitable
While going green can sound expensive, it doesn’t have to be. In fact, going green can actually net businesses more profits in the long run.
According to National Geographic, banks are now offering “green bonds,” which “let investors link their money to environmental causes.” Just like regular bonds, green bonds focus on funding projects that mitigate the effects of climate change or help people adapt to it.
Additionally, with eco-friendly products becoming increasingly trendy and mainstream, customers may go out of their way to purchase products and services from businesses specifically because of their green initiatives. An article by the LA Times detailed how large companies increased their profits and committed to green initiatives at the same time.
Businesses Can Do Their Part Against Climate Change
While the debate rages on about whether the government should mandate environmental changes for companies, one thing remains certain – the best way to positively impact the environment is to hold businesses accountable.
Fighting climate change is imperative to a healthy and better future for the world. Business owners have a fantastic platform to make a positive impact by adapting to greener technology, manufacturing, and building practices moving forward.