New Year's Resolution Tips for Those Striving for Sustainability
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by Amy Haddon on 01/05/2012
Striving for sustainability in 2012? We've got great tips whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro.
It’s a new year, full of hope and the promise of change. Isn’t that why so many of us make resolutions at this time?
If you haven’t already, now is your opportunity to set goals regarding sustainability. As our recent sustainability scorecard research supports, more and more companies are embedding reduction goals in emissions, energy, waste, and water into their operations. These same companies are also increasing their commitments to customer and product safety, responsible business practices, and social and community performance. Time and again, research has demonstrated that companies that take a proactive position toward sustainability outperform their competitors. And if that’s not enough to convince you, you may soon lose the opportunity to choose, as increasing numbers of companies and organizations are demanding and incentivizing compliance with sustainability scorecard and voluntary disclosure programs.
No matter where you fall on the sustainability spectrum, the new year presents an opportunity to get your skin in the game. Here are a few suggestions for advancing your involvement with and commitment to sustainability in 2012:
If you’re just beginning to dip your toe in the proverbial sustainability pool, there are a few areas in which you can make some initial gains:
- Start by discussing sustainability with executive management. Sustainability efforts without top- level support are less likely to succeed. Present a business case for implementing sustainability in your business.
- Develop initial goals for your sustainability programs. What is it that you seek to do? Do you want to reduce your waste or emissions? Do you want to increase employee engagement? Do you want to be seen as a leader in your community? Using a cross-departmental team will help you to identify the area most relevant to your key employee stakeholders.
- Start measuring your emissions with a greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory. This provides you with an important baseline regarding your carbon waste and your impact on climate change and will allow you to measure reductions going forward.
- Consider the partners within the media, community, and business place that it would make sense for you to develop an ongoing relationship with to support and communicate your sustainability efforts.
At the follower level, you’re no longer new to the sustainability game, but may be interested in taking steps that will advance your efforts and make you an industry leader going forward. We suggest:
- If you haven’t yet, take steps this year to have your GHG emissions verified by a 3rd party. You may want to consider reporting your emissions to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) or other reporting agency. Establish a process to ensure that you complete a GHG inventory annually and set reduction targets.
- With management’s support, begin taking steps to embed sustainability into your company’s operations and culture. Develop policies and procedures that put environmentally and socially responsible business practices first. Consider making sustainability and efficiency part of the performance review process for your staff. Celebrate the accomplishment of meeting reduction targets. Set new and ongoing reduction goals to motivate your team and stakeholders.
- Expand on any budding partnerships in the community, particularly with NGOs. Create and distribute your sustainability mission on your corporate website.
- Begin making your sustainability efforts public via disclosure and transparency. Report on your goals on your website. Share the results of your 3rd party verification and/or reporting processes, even those that are not necessarily positive.
Multinational corporations like Walmart, Dell, Proctor & Gamble, Pepsico, and others are leading the way in sustainability by making major, multi-year commitments to their sustainability goals. To set yourself apart as an industry leader this year:
- Complete a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report that includes and divulges your performance in emissions, energy, water and waste management, and your commitment to and involvement in corporate giving/philanthropy, socially responsible business practices, product safety and responsibility, and sustainable global development. Ideally, do this with representation from your stakeholder groups.
- Consider taking the next step by reporting to the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) or certifying as a Benefits (“B”) Corporation.
- Influence your supply chain and reduce your Scope 3 emissions with progressive and environmentally responsible procurement practices. Encourage (or require) your suppliers to get on board with the adoption of a supplier sustainability scorecard.
- Disclose the results of your CSR reporting broadly and across various media. Be as transparent as possible with your stakeholder groups, the media, and the public.
- Continue to embed your commitments in your operations and culture. Set, maintain, and report on annual reduction goals. Make sustainability part of how you do business.
Sustainability is everyone’s business. If you haven’t joined the conversation yet, this is the year! Let Renewable Choice become your sustainability conversation partner. We have solutions and services to help guide you at every step of the way, whether you are a beginner or a sustainability pro!
Amy Haddon is Director of Business Operations for Renewable Choice.