The Startup Magazine Sustainability: Planting trees to prove your green credentials?

It has never been more important for organisations to prove their green credentials, or at the very least, a commitment to limit environmental harm with a sustainability strategy. 

sustainability strategy

And for good reason. Industry, transport, agriculture and waste management processes are all major contributors to total CO2 output here in the UK. And environmentally-aware shoppers are increasingly likely to shop with their conscience, including both societal and environmental issues.

With this in mind, many organisations have gone down a similar route to try and prove their green credentials. They’ve opted for PR-friendly initiatives such as tree planting, or made vague claims about their supply chain being ‘sustainably sourced’. 

There are more meaningful ways in which organisations can support the environment within their existing operations. They might be less flashy, but consumers growing increasingly aware of greenwashing tactics will notice when sincere and relevant efforts to limit environmental harm are being made. 

Enabling flexible working

Transport accounts for around one-fifth of total global carbon dioxide emissions. Whilst trains and busses are advertised as a comparatively greener way to travel, millions of us still get in the car to sit in traffic on the way to the office. 

Enabling flexible working on the grounds of limiting a businesses localised environmental impact is a big step, but it has numerous benefits. Closing a centralised workplace for a couple of days a week saves on energy use and bills. It means staff spend less time commuting and more time working too. 

Where remote working can’t be offered due to the nature of the work, promoting truly green ways of getting there such as through a bike rental scheme is a good replacement idea. 

Effectively dealing with waste

It is estimated that the UK generates over 40 million tonnes of commercial and industrial waste each year – enough to cover 20,000 acres of land. Whilst many companies work with either the local council to dispose of waste or the nearest commercial waste company, there are a number of commercial waste disposal companies that are dedicated to operating as sustainably as possible themselves, either through their own operations, or more specifically, by making sure that as much of the waste they collect as possible is recycled. 

Working with a supplier of this nature ensures that the waste product from your operations is going back into the economy rather than into the ground.  

Holding suppliers to account 

A number of big brands have been caught out promoting their sustainable supply chains, only for a little press scrutiny into one or two suppliers to show malpractice. 

For larger firms in particular, there is an expectation that they work with suppliers who are also environmentally friendly as best as possible. Even in the very polluting world of fast fashion, fabric and clothing suppliers down the food chain have their own commitments to use less water in production, use green power where possible, and use sustainably sourced materials too. 

Holding suppliers to account in this way pushes more companies towards sustainable practices, from material to product to sale. 

Improving packaging design 

Have you noticed that when you buy a bottle of water or fizzy pop from the shop, the lid is now attached to the bottle even after you unscrew it? That’s down to a new a new EU plastic directive to cut down on discarded bottle caps which are now more readily recycleable. 

Businesses can help in this area by making sure the materials they’re using to ship and pack their products are sustainable. And, if they can’t be on safety, freshness or hygiene grounds, those materials are at least recycled already. Contributing to a circular green economy is an important way in which businesses that can’t fully ‘go green’ across their products can at least mimic their impact. 

Switching to 100% green power

This one comes with a few benefits of a sustainability strategy rolled into one, especially if that power is locally sourced rather than from the grid. 

Not much says ‘we’re committed to going green’ like a factory adorned with solar panels, or an industrial estate powered by its own mini wind farm. And with commercial energy rates they way they are, more businesses are going down this route primarily as a cost-cutting exercise – with added green benefits. 

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