Corporate social responsibility, or CSR, refers to the policies established and efforts taken by businesses to affect a positive impact on their local communities and the planet as a whole. It’s a term heard in company boardrooms a lot these days as more and more executives become aware of the benefits of CSR programs to both the lives of their customers and their own companies’ bottom lines.
Corporate social responsibility covers a wide range of important issues, from fair trade and social justice to employee well being and ethical business practices. A major focus of many CSR programs is the environment. Here’s a look at three companies finding success at incorporating “green” principles into their corporate cultures.
Unilever is one of the largest consumer goods businesses in the world. With literally hundreds of brands, including Dove, Hellmann’s/Best Foods, Lipton, Knorr, and Ben & Jerry’s, it’s practically impossible for anyone anywhere to go through the day without coming into contact with a Unilever product. Unilever can also boast of having one of the most comprehensive and far-reaching corporate social responsibility programs of any business on the planet. Through its Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever is leveraging its tremendous global influence to grow its business while “decoupling our environmental footprint from our growth and increasing our positive social impact.”
A major goal of the Sustainable Living Plan is to halve the company’s environmental footprint in the manufacturing and use of its products by 2030, specifically through substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, waste production and water usage, and by sourcing all of its raw materials sustainably. And Unilever appears to be well on its way to achieving its goals. In 2015, the company reported a 39% reduction per ton of production in CO₂ emissions from energy, and a 37% reduction per ton production in water consumption. Additionally, as of 2015, Unilever is sourcing 60% of its raw materials sustainably. All of this while achieving marked overall business growth.
Another major company leading the way in corporate social responsibility on a number of environmentally-related fronts is Starbucks. Beginning with one store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market in 1971, Starbucks has expanded exponentially to become the world leader in coffeehouses with over 23,000 locations worldwide. From its start, Starbucks has made social responsibility a cornerstone of its corporate identity, placing particular emphasis on issues of sustainability and the environment.
In 2008, notwithstanding a recession that was threatening its very existence, Starbucks committed to a set of ambitious environmental goals, including improvement in the ethical sourcing of it coffee, and decreasing the environmental footprint of its coffeehouses. By 2015, the company had made impressive gains on those commitments. According to its 2015 Global Responsibility Report, 99% of Starbuck’s coffee met its ethical sourcing criteria. Also, Starbucks rigorous green building practices had resulted in over 800 of its locations meeting the highly-recognized Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified rating.
Starbucks continues to lead the way among major companies in its corporate social responsibility practices, establishing new goals for 2020 that include increasing its investments in farmers and their communities, and expansion of green retail buildings and operations.
Corporate social responsibility is not exclusive to major international companies with household brand names. More startups are thinking about giving back alongside growth. Recently LendEdu, an online marketplace for student loans and student loan finance, took action to support the sustainability efforts of Vermont-based nonprofit One Tree Planted. One Tree Planted was founded in 2014 with the mission to “reforest our planet and provide education, awareness and engagement on the importance of trees.” The nonprofit is currently involved in reforestation activities in North America, South America, Africa and Asia.
In January 2017, LendEDU announced that it had partnered with One Tree Planted to donate the funds needed to plant one tree for every LendEDU customer it helps in 2017. According to LendEDU Co-Founder and CEO Nate Matherson, “Our team was looking for a way to give back in a meaningful way. We were inspired by [One Tree Planted’s] mission and fight against reforestation.”
Ways Green Preppers Are Trying to Protect their Privacy
Environmental activists are not given the admiration that they deserve. A recent poll by Gallup found that a whopping 32% of Americans still doubt the existence of global warming. The government’s attitude is even worse.
Many global warming activists and green preppers have raised the alarm bell on climate change over the past few years. Government officials have taken notice and begun tracking their activity online. Even former National Guard officers have admitted that green preppers and climate activists are being targeted for terrorist watchlists.
Of course, the extent of their surveillance depends on the context of activism. People that make benign claims about climate change are unlikely to end up on a watchlist, although it is possible if they make allusions to their disdain of the government. However, even the most pacifistic and well intentioned environmental activists may unwittingly trigger some algorithm and be on the wrong side of a criminal investigation.
How could something like this happen? Here are some possibilities:
- They could share a post on social media from a climate extremist group or another individual on the climate watchlist.
- They could overly politicize their social media content, such as being highly critical of the president.
- They could use figures of speech that may be misinterpreted as threats.
- They might praise the goals of a climate change extremist organization that as previously resorted to violence, even if they don’t condone the actual means.
Preppers and environmental activists must do everything in their power to protect their privacy. Failing to do so could cost them their reputation, future career opportunities or even their freedom. Here are some ways that they are contacting themselves.
Living Off the Grid and Only Venturing to Civilization for Online Use
The more digital footprints you leave behind, the greater attention you draw. People that hold controversial views on environmentalism or doomsday prepping must minimize their digital paper trail.
Living off the grid is probably the best way to protect your privacy. You can make occasional trips to town to use the Wi-Fi and stock up on supplies.
Know the Surveillance Policies of Public Wi-Fi Providers
Using Wi-Fi away from your home can be a good way to protect your privacy.However, choosing the right public Wi-Fi providers is going to be very important.
Keep in mind that some corporate coffee shops such a Starbucks can store tapes for up to 60 days. Mom and pop businesses don’t have the technology nor the interest to store them that long. They generally store tips for only 24 hours and delete them afterwards. This gives you a good window of opportunity to post your thoughts on climate change without being detected.
Always use a VPN with a No Logging Policy
Using a VPN is one of the best ways to protect your online privacy. However, some of these providers do a much better job than others. What is a VPN and what should you look for when choosing one? Here are some things to look for when making a selection:
- Make sure they are based in a country that has strict laws on protecting user privacy. VPNs that are based out of Switzerland, Panama for the British Virgin Islands are always good bets.
- Look for VPN that has a strict no logging policy. Some VPNs will actually track the websites that you visit, which almost entirely defeats the purpose. Most obviously much better than this, but many also track Your connections and logging data. You want to use a VPN that doesn’t keep any logs at all.
- Try to choose a VPN that has an Internet kill switch. This means that all content will stop serving if your VPN connection drops, which prevents your personal data from leaking out of the VPN tunnel.
You will be much safer if you use a high-quality VPN consistently, especially if you have controversial views on climate related issues or doomsday prepping.
How Going Green Can Save Your Business Thousands
Running a company isn’t easy. From reporting wages in an efficient way to meeting deadlines and targets, there’s always something to think about – with green business ideas giving entrepreneurs something extra to ponder. While environmental issues may not be at the forefront of your mind right now, it could save your business thousands, so let’s delve deeper into this issue.
Small waste adds up over time
A computer left on overnight might not seem like the end of the world, right? Sure, it’s a rather minor issue compared to losing a client or being refused a loan – but small waste adds up over time. Conserving energy is an effective money saver, so to hold onto that hard-earned cash, try to:
- Turn all electrical gadgets off at the socket rather than leaving them on standby as the latter can crank up your energy bill without you even realizing.
- Switch all lights off when you exit a room and try switching to halogen incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps or light emitting diodes as these can use up to 80 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent and are therefore more efficient.
- Replace outdated appliances with their greener counterparts. Energy Star appliances have labels which help you to understand their energy requirements over time.
- Draught-proof your premises as sealing up leaks could slash your energy bills by 30 per cent.
Going electronic has significant benefits
If you don’t want to be buried under a mountain of paperwork, why not opt for digital documents instead of printing everything out? Not only will this save a lot of money on paper and ink but it will also conserve energy and help protect the planet. You may even be entitled to one of the many tax breaks and grants issued to organizations committed to achieving their environmental goals. This is particularly good news for start-ups with limited funds as the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is keen to support companies opening up their company in a green manner.
Of course, if you’re used to handing out brochures and leaflets at every company meeting or printing out newsletters whenever you get the chance, going electronic may be a challenge – but here are some things you can try:
- Using PowerPoint presentations not printouts
- Communicating via instant messenger apps or email
- Using financial software to manage your books
- Downloading accounting software to keep track of figures
- Arranging digital feedback and review forms
- Making the most of Google Docs
Going green can help you to make money too
Going green and environmental stability is big news at the moment with many companies doing their bit for the environment. While implementing eco-friendly strategies will certainly save you money, reducing your carbon footprint could also make you a few bucks too. How? Well, consumers care about what brands are doing more than ever before, with many deliberately siding with those who are implementing green policies. Essentially, doing your bit for the environment is a PR dream as it allows you to talk about what everyone wants to hear.
Going green can certainly save your money but it should also improve your reputation too and give you a platform to promote your business.