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.”
How Going Green Can Save A Company Money
What is going green?
Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.
The first step in going green
There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.
Making needed changes within the company
After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.
Reducing the common paper waste
Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.
Make money by spreading the word
Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.
5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable
Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.
1. Weather stripping
If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.
Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.
Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.
2. Programmable thermostats
Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.
Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!
3. Low-flow water hardware
With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.
Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.
Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.
4. Energy efficient light bulbs
An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.
New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.
5. Installing solar panels
Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.
Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.
From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!
These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.