The words “sustainable businesses” may sound contradictory, but it is possible for businesses to have less impact on the environment. And it’s not only possible, but it’s also highly necessary. Sustainable businesses will and need to be the future. What sustainable companies are leading the way and what can we learn from their practices? Read on and find out.
How can a business become sustainable?
There are many different ways a business can become sustainable: reducing waste, preventing pollution, adopting clean energy, conserving water, greening the planet by planting trees, using sustainable materials, making their products sustainable, and by adopting sustainable business travel policies.
Although most of those measures speak for themselves, sustainable business travel may need a bit more explanation. Sustainable business travel includes all ways that limit the impact that business travel has on the planet, such as:
- Encouraging employees to take alternative, green transport instead of flying
Air travel accounts for as much as 10 to 25% of the CO2 footprint of international companies. Offering alternative, greener, ways of transport (eg the train) is one way to prevent CO2 emissions from air travel.
- Limiting the need to travel at all by hosting video conferences
Another way is by offering video conferencing. Video conferencing positively affects People (better work-life balance), Planet (fewer CO2-emissions) and Profit (less travel, less wasted time, fewer costs).
- Offsetting CO2 emissions
Businesses can invest in CO2 reduction projects (eg planting trees) and encourage employees to buy their flight (if a flight is necessary) on websites such as FlyGRN, which offsets a flight’s CO2 emissions for free.
Making business travel sustainable doesn’t only benefit the environment, but it also benefits the company. By reducing the need to travel, companies can cut down on costs significantly and reduce CO2 emissions. There are quite a few frontrunners in making business travel more sustainable. These companies include major multinationals as well as small businesses. Here are some of their best practices.
Sustainable Businesses: 5 Companies + Their Best Practices
According to Rank a Brand, Patagonia is one of the most sustainable clothing brands in the sport & outdoor sector. Patagonia has been striving to be an environmentally friendly business for more than twenty years. One percent of their revenue goes to environmental organisations, and they organise workshops where consumers learn how to repair their own clothing and belongings - or Patagonia fixes it for them. The clothing doesn't have to be Patagonia’s. They also encourage sustainable travel by organising a yearly event in June, when their bicycle-loving employees come together and celebrate.
In 2019, CEO Rose Marcario announced that the outdoor clothing brand strives to be completely CO2 neutral by 2025. Patagonia will try to have a fully sustainable production cycle by that time. They will use solar energy and comply with strict standards in terms of production materials and the use of raw materials.
2. Tony’s Chocolonely
Winner of the Sustainable Brand Index 2019, Tony’s Chocolonely is a Dutch company that focuses on making the cocoa industry fair trade and free from slave work. They “calculate the true social cost of their chocolate bar, including all negative social impact and impact on the environment, like child labour or CO2-emissions.”
Besides working on having a positive social impact, Tony’s Chocolonely also works on limiting their environmental impact. According to Rank a Brand, they don’t use palm oil and they are implementing various measures to offset and reduce climate change emissions, such as measuring the climate impact of its own activities and collaborating with Justdiggit. Justdiggit is a non-profit organisation that focuses on restoring landscapes and “regreening" dry lands in Africa in order to have a positive impact on the climate.
3. Too Good To Go
Too Good To Go is an app that you can download to your phone, which helps you to “rescue food waste”. Every day, restaurants and stores throw away perfectly good food due to company policies. This adds up to 10 million tons of food per year. With Too Good To Go, you select your favourite food or store, and then you go pick it up at the store for a discount price (often more than 50%).
4. Triodos Bank
Triodos Bank believes in a different way of banking: ethical banking. They use the money of their customers to invest in companies that are sustainable or are working to create a better world. For example, instead of loaning your money to the fossil sector, as ABN Amro and ING do, Triodos invests it in renewable energy. It has been doing this from the start of the company, which is 1980. They also provide customers with useful sustainability tips.
According to Hays Journal, WWF’s “Living Planet Centre” (a workplace for about 300 employees) was awarded an excellent rating by the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) and includes a central, tall room with trees. CO2 emissions have been reduced by 25 percent compared to the WWF's previous office building and the centre produces 50 percent of its water by collecting rain and recycling used water. Other sustainable initiatives include the production of 20 percent of their own electricity through solar panels and water pumps.
WWF has also drawn up an environmental purchasing policy. Suppliers are expected to take into account the pursuit of an environmentally friendly policy within their objectives. In addition to all of this, WWF promotes an internal sustainable travel policy, which imposes restrictions on how far and often staff are allowed to travel around the world.
What about FlyGRN?
At FlyGRN, we do everything we can to educate people about alternative, green ways of travel and promote a sustainable lifestyle. Wherever possible, we highly recommend train travel instead of air travel, and we help people travel eco-friendly in many different ways.
If you do book a flight with us, FlyGN will offset your flight’s CO2 emissions for free by planting trees or investing in a solar panel project. We work together with treeplanters.net, which is a tree planting and monitoring service that buys their trees from a renowned company in Belgium.
For every booked flight, FlyGRN also invests in the installation of two solar power plants in the states of Tamil Nadu and Telangana in India. This project directly displaces energy that would have otherwise been generated by fossil fuels such as charcoal.
TreeClicks is a free tree planting browser extension, founded by Jelle Bekirovic - the founder of FlyGRN. Whenever you shop online at their 50,000+ connected stores (including Amazon), TreeClicks receives an ad fee and invests it in tree planting projects. As deforestation currently accounts for more than 10% of the global greenhouse gas emissions, we hope to plant as many trees as possible.
Do you have any other inspiring sustainable companies to add to this list? Let us know in the comments!