Prevention is always better than the cure. This adage is true for everyone, in all aspects of life. One of the areas where this is most evident is in the environment. According to a CNBC report, the destruction wrought by disasters such as hurricanes, storms, and floods worsened by global warming, amounted to a whopping $210 billion in damages in the year 2020. In Asia alone, the price attached to environmental devastation ran up to a stupefying $67 billion.
Just imagine how those staggering amounts could have benefited perpetually famine-stricken Ethiopia, where the UNICEF estimates that 300,000 people die of starvation yearly, or how that large pile of cash could have funded vaccine research to keep up with the rapid pace of viral mutations. This is not to count the cost that future generations will have to pay for our current wasteful ways. While all of us bear responsibility for the state of the environment today, owing to their scale of operations, it is business owners who can provide significant impact if they adopt a more environmentally-friendly culture and business model.
Here are four ways your business can reduce its carbon footprint today:
While you need to chalk up a substantial sum at the outset, transitioning from the standard gasoline-powered sedans to electric cars for your fleet can add up to hefty savings in fuel and maintenance costs each year. With careful planning, you can check out when and where electricity costs are most efficient for the charging up of your vehicles. As demand for electric cars increases, suppliers will also up the rate of production, which in turn, will lead to improved economies of scale for reduced production costs. This will eventually be reflected in better listing prices. Certain states in the United States also give out tax incentives to businesses for their use of these Mother Nature-loving machines. Advocacy groups are hoping more and more governments make this policy the norm for the sake of their constituents’ future. And this will bode well for your bottom line.
In the 1450s, in the Arsenal in Venice, the values of strategic thinking and planning began to be recognized to have profound effects on optimizing manufacturing lines. Fast forward to the early 19th century, and you find Henry Ford discovering the breakthrough of flow production. Since then, many companies have embraced the LEAN business model as crucial to their success. LEAN is a system of management practices that espouse shared management and responsibility with the goals of continuous improvement, the minimizing of wastes, and the optimizing of resources. The LEAN approach looks at the top values subscribed to by a company, decides on its targeted output according to those values, maps out the milestones by which to measure the attainability of those desired goals, integrates the processes, and then makes improvements or course-corrects along the way as necessary. It is the timeliness and decisiveness of making those small adjustments that amount to a substantial difference in the entire business operation. Do all these sound familiar? When applied to the environment, advocacy groups spell LEAN as S-U-S-T-A-I-N-A-B-I-L-I-T-Y. Having a LEAN mindset will give you the courage to trim off the excess fat from the corpulent layers of your corporation.
One clear way to turn your company into a leaner but meaner machine would be to create a flatter organizational structure. Because you have a kinder, more thoughtful, and caring mindset, you would not define restructuring as a mere euphemism for the much-dreaded “laying-off.” Rather, you will have the opportunity to better leverage the strengths of each of your employees when you assess where they can be most productive -- and less wasteful. Decentralizing your decision-making is also another means by which you can make your firm more efficient. Lay out with clarity your purpose and structure from the get-go. This will give your managers the confidence to use critical thinking and make the analyses needed to apply sound judgment in all work situations within the defined parameters. The more efficient your business is on a day-to-day basis, the more sustainable it will be in the long term.
This course of action deserves a special mention among the ways that a corporation can be more environmentally friendly. Among the facts compiled by Recordnations are these: a.) The average employee in the U.S. consumes 10,000 sheets of paper a year; b.) 45% of these print-outs will find their way daily to the garbage bin. The average cost for each sheet printed out in black and white is 5 cents. As of April 2021, the number of employees recorded is 151.2 million. Applying simple multiplication, you will come up with the staggering cost of $75.6 billion from paper usage, with half of it possibly filling out the landfills. Just a tenth of that amount is mind-numbing when you consider all the economic woes of third-world countries that could be addressed by that huge sum of money. How about the number of trees that had to be felled to meet our ravenous “business needs” for paper? It is estimated that on average, 10,000 sheets can be produced from a single tree. Even if you just had a tenth of the recorded number of employees in the U.S. consuming paper, that would run up to 15 million trees being sacrificed for our indolence and entitlement. It is time to start using that painstakingly designed electronic signature. Digitally route all your documents for approval. Not only will you thank your more benevolent self for the more efficient process, but your staff will highly appreciate not having to look for a single missing document for the rest of your company’s environmentally protective existence.
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The mustard seed, measuring only a tenth of an inch, is insignificantly diminutive. But it can grow into an awe-inspiring 20-foot high tree. Great things come from small beginnings. One behavior change here, another habit modification there, and you have the makings of a culture that is disciplined, forward-thinking, and intentional about continuous improvement. How about turning that light off as you step out of the room? Are you calling it a day? Then, switch off your air conditioner without having to wait for your janitorial staff to do so. How about encouraging your employees to bring their reusable coffee mugs instead of calling your admin department to report that you are out of styrofoam cups? Establish the one-hour rule for all your meetings by preparing in advance. Route all reports for pre-reading so that each minute spent in the huddle will be utilized to make data-based decisions and action plans. These are small but impactful ways to support energy and resource conservation. After all, it's in the little things -- it's always in the little things.
About The Author:
Kat is a molecular biologist by degree. She writes articles that aim to enlighten readers toward the importance of reducing carbon footprint and help protect the environment.
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