In 2019, companies are expected to give some attention to ‘going green’. This means taking the necessary precautions and making changes to reduce carbon emissions and other kinds of harm to the environment. With more and more people becoming aware of the threat posed by climate change, companies find themselves under pressure to demonstrate how they are doing their bit for the environment.
However, it isn’t always easy to tell which companies are truly passionate about their carbon footprints or plastic waste, and which are simply attempting to run an environmental campaign for some positive PR.
Why do some companies struggle to become environmentally sustainable?
If companies could make the choice to operate in a more environmentally-friendly manner without any consequences for their bottom lines, they surely would. The issue is that any movement to alter operations towards a more environmentally-friendly pattern would likely result in unpredictable changes to revenue. This is a decision that many CEOs would sweat over.
In some reports, the numbers of UK business owners who are actively trying to reduce emissions isn't encouraging. One survey found that 31% have not implemented any measures to become more environmentally sustainable. However, when employees themselves are questioned about their employer’s green habits, this number rises sharply to 67%. More positively, almost half of businesses owners surveyed state that they take some precautions such as closing windows if air conditioning is on, or using energy-saving light bulbs.
Are some companies less environmentally sustainable than they claim to be?
Any company that launches a ‘going green’ campaign will always have its intentions scrutinised. It is easy to jump on a popular bandwagon just to appeal to the large numbers of people who are passionate about the cause.
Let’s take a look at a few companies outlined by Eluxe magazine for their questionable environmental campaigns:
- The Body Shop. Similarly to LUSH, The Body Shop are a voice against animal testing and support locally sourced products. However, it is known that some of their products are irradiated to kill off bacteria - using non-renewable uranium in the process.
- Stella McCartney. A brand that is often renowned for its eco-friendly products, it is evident that heavily-manufactured polyester or nylon is still present in the majority of products. There is always the argument to be made that if a company truly cares about the environment, they would use exactly zero non-renewable sources.
Of course, these companies do much more than the average company when it comes to becoming environmentally sustainable. However, it always helps to dig a little deeper and analyse whether or not they truly make every effort to live up to their promise.
Can any companies successfully be environmentally sustainable?
It's currently a rare sight, but companies can certainly operate in a very sustainable way if they make the effort to:
- New Belgium Brewing. Founded in 1991, it has become the third-largest craft beer maker in the U.S. It records 100% of its energy use and waste production, and recycles or reuses more than 75% of its manufacturing waste. Employees are provided with bikes or an electric Prius to make short trips, in order to avoid unnecessary vehicle emissions.
- Ikea. The Swedish furniture giants have always been committed to sustainability. Half of its wood is obtained from sustainable foresters, and all of its cotton meets the Better Cotton Standards. Its stores are powered by over 700,000 solar panels, and they plan to release these to UK customers.
- Seventh Generation. This company create environmentally-friendly cleaning products. It was always thought that ‘green’ cleaning products wouldn’t work as well as traditional ones, but Seventh Generation managed to dispel that thought with their laundry and household cleaners.
There are always challenges that companies will have to rise to when making their company more environmentally sustainable. Granted, it is easier for a food or beauty company to become greener than it is for a fuel or technology company, but business owners are the kind of public figures that need to make the first stand against climate change as best they can.
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash