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Tag Archives: Sustainability

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5 Easy Steps To Become Sustainable At The Workplace

Katia Arias No Comments

Our planet is under great pressure. With populations and corporations growing at irresponsible rates, it is no surprise that we’ve reached the point of  increased global warming, ocean acidification, extreme poverty and mass deforestation.

Saving the planet, though, cannot be seen as only as a “big player” issue. Sustainability concerns all of us and it starts with ourselves at home and the workplace.

So, if you ever thought about becoming more sustainable but had trouble getting started, here are some tips to help you make that first step and sustain it in the long-run:

  1. Go paperless

Unless you really need to keep a print copy of your documents, digitalizing them can reduce your company’s costs and carbon footprint exponentially.

According to an article from TIME Magazine, our deforestation rate has gone up to 15B trees annually, with the paper industry using 4B or almost 35% of those trees.

Looking at it more closely, choosing to digitalize 1 ton of paper could save up to 17 trees, 60,000 gallons of water and 225 Kilowatt hours.  Plus, it will save you all the money you would have spent buying 1 ton of paper.

Want more information on the topic? here’s a video from ICM explaining why everyone should go paperless:

  1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Adopting this mantra as a part of your culture could save your company a lot of money and the planet a lot of life.

Let’s start with “Reduce”. When you use less of something you immediately save up money, cut your waste rates and decrease pollution.  Businesses can reduce their resource consumption by buying in bulk (which saves all the packaging costs and waste),  outsourcing some operations and choosing to adopt planet-friendly technologies.

“Reusing” is the next big step and your business can excel at it by repairing what you already own, buying second-hand and replacing disposable items with reusable or rechargeable ones.

And finally, “Recycling”. What you can’t save or reuse then you should recycle. Label bins accordingly to help your personnel sort out the waste properly and then give it to companies that can transform your trash into new products and new jobs!

The HappyDancingTurltle.org explains this concept a bit better in the following video:

  1. Adopt Eco-Friendly Technology And Practices

Another way to ensure that your company is working hand-in-hand with the planet is by behaving sustainably everyday.

Here are some ideas to start:

  1. Change your traditional trash bins for color-coded recycling bins.
  2. Encourage your employees to save and reuse resources as much as possible.
  3. Replace traditional toilets and faucets for water-efficient models.
  4. Replace paper towels with energy-efficient dryers.
  5. Choose natural air over AC.
  6. Employ motion-sensor lights.
  7. Install timers and control systems for electronics and machinery.
  8. Digitalize your accounting and your marketing.
  9. Promote the use of public transportation to reduce carbon emissions from fuel burning.
  10. Adopt a benefits program that praises sustainable behaviors.
  11. Make sustainability an important part of your company values.
  12. Choose the eco-friendly option for products like paint, ink and air-fresheners.
  13. Schedule regular maintenance for your electric equipment.

Click the link to read this amazing success story presented by Quora, where workers in Japan reduced 1.85 Million tons of greenhouse emissions by reducing their AC consumption during summer months.

  1. Build a sustainable supply chain

If you are serious about making your company planet-friendly, then you must restructure your your supply chain to meet sustainable standards.

Make sure your providers treat the earth and its people according to your values and those of your clients.

Continue to review your production processes, your company culture and your employees’ work habits. Do all these consider the planet as a key stakeholder? Do you seek to reduce resource usage, reuse as much as possible and manage waste properly?

In every step of production from getting a quote to closing a sale you must seek to cut negative environmental impact and work towards a cleaner footprint.

Here is an incredible example from Campbell’s Soup supply chain plan presented by the Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire:

Campbell's Soup Sustainable Supply Chain, recovered from: www.csrwire.com

Campbell’s Soup Sustainable Supply Chain, recovered from: www.csrwire.com

  1. Benchmark and keep learning

Finally, It is never a bad idea to look for inspiration. If someone in your industry is adopting sustainable practices that work then mimic them!

Do some research on creative ways to become more sustainable and don’t be afraid to try them out. Get your employees involved, take field trips to visit sustainable facilities or have someone you admire in this area give a lecture at your workplace.

The more you learn the better you’ll get at it! And remember:

“The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it” – Robert Swan.

 

If you found this post useful, please let us know in the comments!

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Overview: Social Entrepreneurship

Katia Arias No Comments

You have probably heard of social entrepreneurship at some point in your career. Probably defined as the “charitable work of some business people” or by its true definition: the type of entrepreneurship that wants to solve the problems of the world using business solutions.

As a social entrepreneur I can’t remember the amount of glares I got when I told people about my career choice. For people it seemed unconceivable to use corporate structures to decrease food insecurity or save our oceans.

But it can be done. With a lot of passion and hard work, businesses that adopt a social/environmental focus can indeed save the world and make profits at the same time. And, through this post, I’ll explain how…

 

Social entrepreneurs don’t usually have a personal agenda

It is rare to hear a social entrepreneur say that his main driver is money. As an SE myself, I know the hustles that go into building a social enterprise, the endless hours and effort you put into creating something that will not necessarily bring a fast ROI and will take some time to prove its effectiveness. It is impossible to stick for long if you’re in it for the money.

Social entrepreneurship is about passion and the genuine desire to create a better world. The social endeavor usually comes from the heart and belongs to those who are serious about sacrificing their own commodities to give others the optimal life they deserve.

 

Here’s a great video from Devex for a broader explanation…

Social enterprises employ social processes

A holistic social enterprise seeks to empower the community and preserve the environment in every step of the way.

Take Trash to Cash, an Indian company launched to help people with disabilities raise their standard of life. Their model includes collecting old flowers from temples (that would otherwise go in the rivers) and getting people with disabilities to transform them into colored powder that is then sold to celebrate the Holi Festival of Colors. On top of that, workers are given extra training to improve on various technical skills.

Looking more closely, this model does not only get money and dumps it into a fund to make a company look good. On the contrary! From the start Trash to Cash prevents water pollution, then it gives disabled communities the opportunity to get an income and live a decent life. And finally, they provide the Indian people with essential products to celebrate their heritage. In every process there is impact!

I invite you to watch this  Walmart video on Madhumita Puri (founder of Trash to Cash) and her advancements for the Child Development program…

Social enterprises are self-sustainable

While traditional CSR programs can tackle social needs, social enterprises exist to tackle these needs sustainably through time. If a company decides that their CSR program no longer works for them, then all the “donation” money will go away and communities are left to wonder.

To avoid that, social enterprises teach people to fish rather than giving them the fish. It creates holistic opportunities where communities take their development in their hands and learn to sustain themselves on their own.

On the financial side of things, social enterprises sustain themselves through their own revenue models. CSR programs, on the other hands, depend on company funds or outside donations.

“Happiness belongs to the self-sufficient” – Aristotle

Social enterprises attract a larger pull of financial contributors

Because social enterprises are self-sustaining and produce financial and social returns on investment, they are eligible for many more types of funding than charities and foundations.

Yes you can still rely on pilot stage funding like crowdfunding and relative/friend donations. But also you can enter business competitions, reach to angel investors and, if your idea is strong enough, you can get some funding from venture capitalists.

To go even further, there are many particular social and environmental investors interested in putting their money to work for good. Social entrepreneurs also may have access to social impact bonds and other financial alliances with organizations and people that wish to contribute to the planet’s development.

The Center of Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology does a great work in explaining “social investing” and why it attracts investors…

Social entrepreneurship opens doors to innovation and disruptive thinking

Social entrepreneurs are disruptive innovators. People who want to change the status quo and challenge the present system to build one that is more just and beneficial for everyone. And they do so by breaking barriers of accessibility, affordability and impact.

Disrupters see opportunities in every market, they are not afraid to take the least traveled road and they prototype often based on customer feedback! This, in turn, leads to incredibly (hard to copy) creative solutions that appeal more to both customers and beneficiaries.

Here’s a video from The Explainer: Harvard Business Review to give you a better idea on the concept…

Social Entrepreneurship is about the triple-bottom line

When you see a social enterprise, you see an organization that values people, planet and profit. To make a decision, social entrepreneurs consider the environment and the community as important members of the board.

Success is not measured only through financial ROI. For social entrepreneurs success is measured also through SROI, which is the social (and environmental) return on investment. Social investors are interested in measure organizational transparency, stakeholder involvement, net impact and of course the effectiveness of the enterprise’s theory of change (how well was the problem solved).

Image Source: CSR Ambassadors

Image Source: CSR Ambassadors

If you really want to help the world and save the planet I encourage you to invest in the present and future social entrepreneurs. Get involved in social enterprises or start your own! Social Entrepreneurship is about earning profits by doing good and creating positive impact using your own business skills! Don’t be afraid and start working for the sustainable change you want to see.

If you found this post useful, please let us know in the comments!

 

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