Across the globe, companies and even nations are prioritizing environmental sustainability by enforcing policies such as zero waste manufacturing, product recycling, and carbon footprint reduction. For instance, Bhutan is the only carbon negative country in the world with a meticulously planned 72% forest cover that absorbs nearly 6 million tonnes of carbon. Subaru’s manufacturing plants leverage a zero-waste methodology, and Apple runs all its facilities on 100% renewable energy.
While these are tremendous large-scale outcomes, it all begins with small groups of people making positive changes. So, what can leaders do to build and lead a culture where sustainability is practiced?
Budgeting meetings can be a great place to begin the conversation on sustainability. While some of these may seem trivial to be listed on budgeting agendas, they are, nevertheless, crucial first steps to realizing the vision of enterprise sustainability. Here are some things you could include during your next budgeting meeting:
- Procuring green resources. Leaders have the power to institute green procurement practices across the organization. This can range from liaising with green supply chain partners who minimize packaging waste, to optimizing logistics for a lower carbon footprint. It can even trickle down to simpler choices like preferring facility management service providers that use green cleaning products, thereby minimizing water pollution.
While most offices have a ‘print only when needed’ motto, printing is often necessary. Leaders can opt for using recyclable paper and eco-friendly printer ink like vegetable-based or UV ink. They can also establish workplace changes such as letting people take notes on their laptops or tablets to avoid printing, or avoiding the use of plastic water bottles in meeting rooms.
- Improving water usage practices. Minimizing waste from toilets can begin with a simple redesign – replacing hand wipes with hand dryers. During the early stages of office construction, leaders can also make a case for water-efficient restrooms with features such as low-flush toilets and reusing waste-water from basins as flush water. Replacing plastic water dispensers and canisters with water filters around the campus will reduce plastic use and save long-term costs. Finally, waste-water from restrooms, water filters, and office equipment like air conditioners can be further treated and recycled to maintain office campuses and gardens.
- Installing energy-efficient solutions to optimize electricity. Using clean technology can go a long way in minimizing greenhouse gas emissions. Here, leaders can drive initiatives to buy energy-efficient and multi-purpose machines, thereby yielding cost and energy savings. They can also allocate spend to install automation solutions that use motion detectors or auto-switch off features for unused office rooms, to slash energy consumed by lights and A/Cs.
Ultimately, building a culture of sustainability begins with setting an example – and leaders can shine the light by establishing the right standards for employees to follow.