Why are more and more natural products companies going green? Simply put: It is the right thing to do.
Workplace social responsibility has dramatically evolved over the years. Companies are now implementing green measures because they just have to. It improves corporate image, shows that the company cares, and, frankly, more and more customers are demanding it. In fact, an argument can be made that incorporating sustainable practices is the responsible thing to do.
Ironically, the reasons for going green are not what you think. Natural products companies, and all companies for that matter, are not adapting sustainability practices just because they are concerned about the environment. They are doing it because it dramatically benefits them too – and in a BIG way.
How Does a Company Start Incorporating Sustainability?
There are several factors to consider:
1. Make it Part of the Company Culture
A top priority for any company incorporating sustainability is to make it a part of the company culture. This could be incorporated in various ways. Green businesses should also learn to eliminate inefficiencies, think long-term, consider the impact on the environment, evolve and adapt to a changing world, and seek continual improvement. That said, none of this works without employee buy-in. Successfully implementing sustainability will require a cultural shift in the company and the employees are the only ones that can make this happen.
Sustainability practices can enhance ANY part of a business, regardless of the industry, service or product. This means that every stage of corporate activity needs to be evaluated, from raw materials, to production, to distribution, to service delivery, to consumption, and ultimately, to disposal. Sustainability is a broad area which can serve as a strategic tool to create a competitive advantage and add value throughout the organization and community.
2. Save Money
Many companies either overlook or are unaware of the beneficial impact sustainability practices have on the bottom line. This stems partially from the notion that it is a luxury, more than a strategic approach, to tackle such initiatives. Evaluating operational costs can shed light on significant savings opportunities buried within the organization.
For example, one major opportunity is energy expenditure. Businesses are now incorporating consumption reducing programs as a means to reduce costs without a large capital investment. Low-cost initiatives, such as employee awareness campaigns, light motion sensors, energy-efficient equipment, low-consumption light bulbs and greater use of natural light, can have a profound impact on reducing energy consumption. Considering that the 120 million homes and 7 billion square feet of commercial buildings in America alone account for about 40 % of total U.S. energy consumption, it soon becomes clear how significant and quick we can all benefit from these small energy-saving steps.
Interestingly, during the economic downturn, many companies used eco-friendly programs as a strategic means to become leaner and cut costs, while simultaneously improving corporate consciousness and image.
3. Take Advantage of Our Digital World!
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, a typical office disposes of approximately 350 pounds of paper per employee per year! We live in a digital world. Eliminate paper. Employees should maintain digital files, utilize email, and distribute documents electronically. If you absolutely have to use paper, recycle! In fact, recycling is at the core of sustainability. Our natural resources will dry up eventually at the rate of our consumption. Recycling and reuse will dramatically slow consumption of paper.
Furthermore, companies use sustainability as a way to foster good relationships in the community and bolster its reputation for social responsibility. Ultimately, your brand conveys your organization’s values. With the increasing global concern about the environment, companies can now leverage their sustainability achievements, investments, and skills, to strengthen their value and reputation. And, conversely, those businesses that fail to resonate from these practices with their customers will see a detrimental impact on their brands.
Over recent years, the mainstream media has increasingly created awareness about the shift in the mindset towards “the green agenda,” “sustainable lifestyles, and “environmental responsibility.” The term sustainability embraces various principles and practices designed to encourage active preservation of our environment and communities, while also providing financial benefits. Many companies now realize that thousands and even millions of dollars can be saved by implementing sustainability programs across their businesses. Any management team willing to take a closer look will ultimately see the potential from these programs.
No one can dispute that incorporating sustainability into a business strategy ultimately gives the company a competitive advantage, lowers short-term costs and enhances potential and long-term revenue.
For businesses today, sustainability means so much more than just maintaining and growing operations and profits. Today, sustainability has a global impact. Companies must act responsibly in an area that is bigger than all of us. It’s definitely time to “Go Green!”