Corporate social responsibility can help companies go green

6 September 2022

Photo: Pixabay/Goumbik

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an umbrella term for corporations’ various efforts to promote social, economic and environmental change. With climate change becoming a more urgent issue, the environment has become CSR’s primary focus. CSR can help the green transition.

Many companies switched to remote work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and it looks like the hybrid model is here to stay. Remote work reduces travel emissions, lightens traffic and allows businesses to use fewer office resources like paper and bathroom supplies. A handful of companies offering hybrid work in a concentrated area helps the local environment thrive.

Getting the majority of corporations worldwide to offer alternative work options will be a challenge. But, if successful, a global remote workforce would eat a big chunk out of the collective fuel emissions and carbon footprint.

Of course, businesses don’t have to abandon in-person work entirely. Instead, they can rebuild or relocate to sustainable buildings. There are many ways to make a workspace more eco-friendly:

  • Switch to electric or hybrid vehicles
  • Invest in renewable energy sources
  • Incorporate natural building materials
  • Rely primarily on sunlight to illuminate the building
  • Incorporate some greenery
  • Get second-hand office furniture
  • Encourage employees to reduce, reuse and recycle
  • Set up a carpooling plan

Eco-conscious daily habits are the foundational pieces of CSR. People can only achieve their big-picture environmental goals through many days of efficient action.

Big companies like Meta and Apple have made long-term commitments to reducing pollution and having a net-zero footprint. Still, the smaller day-to-day obligations are far more critical. When you establish a robust code of ethics among your employees, positive environmental change will follow.

Responsible resource management

Another crucial aspect of CSR is responsible resource management. Companies worldwide — especially big corporations — need to adopt mindful shipment and delivery tactics to make the supply chain more efficient.

For example, food waste is a significant problem in farming, fishing, manufacturing and retail. Instead of using cheap plastic containers and mishandling the food, companies can use wooden crates, glass containers and other eco-friendly materials.

Many companies have taken similar initiatives to cut back on food waste and deliver food safely to communities in need.

Some businesses are taking it further and restructuring their shipments and deliveries altogether. To reduce space and cut costs, they pack their orders into eco-friendly compact containers like biodegradable pouches and recycled cardboard. Corporate contributions to landfill pollution will notably decrease if these containers become mainstream.

Paper is perhaps the most wasted resource of them all. About one billion trees’ worth of paper gets wasted every year in the U.S. alone. In today’s increasingly digital world, enterprises should have no trouble making adjustments to reduce paper waste:

  • Use locally-sourced recyclable paper
  • Make all payments and transactions online
  • Invest in cloud computing technology
  • Use laptops and tablets instead of desktop computers

Cutting down on paper waste helps the environment and frees up space in your building to pursue other green endeavors.

Giving back to the community

No matter what businesses do, they will cause some environmental damage. To compensate for this, they can give back to their communities through projects and partnerships. Here are some common examples:

  • Donate a percentage of profits to environmental causes
  • Host fundraisers for non-profit environmental groups
  • Work with green web hosting providers
  • Establish strict company limits on waste and energy consumption

Community involvement also improves a company’s brand awareness and reputation. Today’s buyers are more green-minded than ever and want to purchase from companies that show a commitment to positive environmental change.

Corporations can also improve their reputations by acquiring relevant environmental certifications. These certifications encourage sustainable habits and incentivize wasteful enterprises to adjust their practices. Here are some of the most popular certifications:

  • Green C Certification for supporting eco-conscious business practices
  • Green Business Bureau certificate for smart office management
  • USDA Certified Organic label for producing 100% organic foods
  • B Corp Sustainability certification for strong records of environmental and social performance

Private companies of all sizes and industries can apply for many other green certifications to solidify their eco-friendly operations and raise the corporate world’s sustainability standards.

All of the efforts corporations have made to reinvent themselves and fix the supply chain have only put a dent in the problem. Businesses everywhere still have lots of work to do before the corporate world can genuinely call itself “green.”

Every day is an opportunity to take another step toward saving the environment.

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