You can’t ignore the dire warnings of the IPCC’s 6th climate assessment report. The proof presents itself as we witness centuries-old forests burn, German villages flood, and arctic glaciers melt. We know that carbon dioxide is the primary driver of climate change. However, short-lived pollutants—like methane—can be far more potent—hundreds to thousands of times more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.
Cows beset with flatulence, spewing oil and gas wells, and waste fermenting in our landfills produce methane.
Waste from homes and businesses and the methane generated in landfills as waste decomposes is the third-largest source of CH4 emissions in the United States.
Reducing our waste is something we can do right now, and it’s evolved from the notion of vestibules that separate paper, plastic, and glass. It requires commitment and planning.
At home, it seems simple, but the approach in our workplace, be it corporate or small business, can make even bigger impacts but can be daunting.
How does one begin the journey as a business owner or an engaged earth champion at work?
Measure to Matter
To address the challenges ahead, we must take meaningful steps in our everyday lives towards healing the planet. The first step is to measure the sustainability of our lives in relevant ways—in our homes, food systems, and businesses.
Before you can even begin turning your business into something resembling an environmentally positive concern, you first need to know where you feature currently, on the “green stakes”.
What are green stakes? The Green Business Bureau believes that 2021 is the year most companies will commit to eco-friendly businesses practices. Sustainability will be a minimum requirement to have a credible competitive starting position in the market—Green Table Stakes.
Focus on people and engagement.
Do an audit of where you are now, engage your fellow employees, don’t even offer them bottled water—lead them to the water cooler. Gossip, agitate, and organize.
Take them on a tour through the cubicles, hallways, and inner recesses of meetings rooms—the places where your team spends a great portion of their lives.
Do you Recycle batteries, electronics, and paper? What is the source of that paper in the copy room? Where did that uneaten fun-chow lunch get deposited?
Before we can make the changes that we aspire, we must know what we’re doing today that needs to change.
You can’t know where you’re going to if you don’t know where you’ve been is as true now as it’s ever been.
So, when you’re not an expert in “waste management”, (who is), you’ll want to find a partner in waste management consulting that makes sense for your business.
Plan and plot a path to get there.
When you’re plotting and planning all the reasons why you want to take your business green, you’ll also want to have a solid plan that accurately reflects your economic reality.
Sometimes you can’t follow a prescribed path, but you can be a trailblazer.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) often lead the way in innovation and trends. They are flexible and customer-focused, and ripe for socially responsible practices. If you’re one of these, you probably have a smaller budget for sustainability.
Engaging with outside resources can help you set goals and develop a roadmap to success without an entire department.
The Sustainable Food Trade Action Council is available to members of the Organic Trade Association.
They’ve developed effective tools for organic businesses to build, measure and refine their sustainability programs. The COMPASS program provides consistent annual guidance using a variety of key sustainability tools from which companies can choose the ones that best fit their businesses.
Let’s make 2021 the year of environmental action!
Take the time to assess where you are now and who can help you set goals. Then engage employees and customers.
Whatever business you’re in, it is time we envision a future that prioritizes actions that mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and environmental injustice. As the IPCC report says, “this may be our last best chance to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis.”
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