The importance of going green is at an all-time high, and households can easily aid this cause by supporting companies that produce and manufacture eco-friendly products. And with mainstream and independent brands alike pursuing green initiatives, such as reducing packaging waste and cutting back on energy use, shopping for sustainable products has never been easier.
Here's how green companies are working to protect the planet for future generations, and how consumers—and the world at large—can benefit from these efforts.
What Does Going Green Mean?
Green businesses come in many different forms, but ultimately, going green is defined as making a focused effort toward reducing one's negative impact on the environment and expanding eco-friendly practices. Green companies adopt policies and practices centered on protecting the local and global environment, as well as communities and people.
Why Green Companies Matter
According to data compiled by the Global Footprint Network, people across the world are currently consuming significantly more planetary resources than they're replacing. Through efforts like reducing emissions, saving energy, and developing more sustainable products and technologies, corporations can play a role in reversing some of these environmental impacts.
Individuals are increasingly taking steps to reduce their personal environmental footprint, but without corporation support, this effort can feel like an uphill battle. In fact, 81 percent of global consumers feel strongly that companies should help improve the environment, according to a 2017 Nielsen survey. That means that when companies go green, they not only help the planet—but can also win over customers.
How Sustainability Benefits Everyone
Going green has significant benefits for both consumers and companies. By replacing materials and ingredients with naturally derived, sustainable ones, for example, businesses can reduce damage to the planet and give consumers peace of mind about using their products.
This shift can also translate into bigger profits. According to another Nielsen survey, 30 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for green products—ones that deliver on social responsibility claims. Products labeled as clean and sustainable have seen sales grow over the past year, and Nielsen projects sustainable goods will be a $150 billion market by 2021.
5 Ways Companies Can Become Greener
Here are five ways companies can minimize their environmental footprint and, in turn, help the planet.
1. Reduce Packaging Waste
From plastic containers to toothpaste tubes, product packaging accounts for a whopping one-third of the waste in American landfills, according to the University of Southern Indiana.
Green businesses are creating initiatives to reduce packaging waste, like Tom's of Maine's partnership with TerraCycle. The program makes it easier to recycle packaging material that can't be taken through curbside recycling programs. TerraCycle collects the waste materials from consumers—for free!—and uses them to create new recycled products.
Utilizing recycled materials is another important step companies can take to reduce waste. Tom's of Maine set a goal to increase the use of recycled content to 70 percent of packaging weight by 2020, according to the company's 2017 Goodness Report. By that year, they're also set to release a fully recyclable toothpaste tube.
2. Utilize Sustainable Resources
Companies can go green by first reevaluating the way their products are made, and secondly focusing on using ingredients and materials that are sustainably sourced.
According to a study published in the Journal of Cleaner Production, the world consumes 40 percent more resources in one year than nature can regenerate. To preserve our planet's natural resources, manufacturers need to find ways to replace production materials with ones that are sustainable. Tom's of Maine is doing so by looking closely at its water consumption, according to the 2017 Goodness Report, and identifying ways to conserve freshwater resources.
3. Minimize Energy Consumption
According to the Energy Information Administration, industries accounted for 32 percent of the country's energy consumption in 2018. Businesses can minimize their energy use on a large scale by producing products using green energy sources, such as fueling plants through solar and wind power, or by making simple changes, like swapping out traditional light bulbs for LEDs across all offices.
4. Go Paperless
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, paper waste accounted for the largest percentage of municipal solid waste in 2017. While the recycling rate is among the highest for paper products compared to other materials, there was still more than 67 million tons of paper waste that year.
From using cloud storage services to electronic documents, companies now have a multitude of options at their disposal for reducing paper waste. When using paper is a must, such as with packaging labels, look for materials that are 100 percent post-consumer waste, and then make sure that all paper is properly recycled.
5. Encourage Green Practices among Employees
Going green can extend beyond the office when incentives come into play. Companies that offer rewards for biking or carpooling to work, for example, can help cut down on the number of cars on the road, and, in turn, the pollution emitted each day.
Companies can set an eco-friendly example at work, too. By substituting plastic utensils and dishware for reusable ones, and changing out paper towels and napkins for hand dryers, your office can reduce internal waste and promote good habits among employees. Also, consider ditching energy-users like dishwashers and installing motion-sensor lights where it makes sense.
Going green is something that consumers expect—and demand—from modern companies. And while change can be a costly shift for some corporations, the benefits of going green more than make up for it: A healthier planet leads to healthier bottom lines, after all.
How does your company practice being green? Share your eco-friendly work practices by tagging @toms_of_maine on Instagram!
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Why It's Good
By adopting green initiatives, companies can play a leading role in protecting the planet for future generations. Eco-friendly corporate practices help boost profits—and deliver on what consumers increasingly expect from companies.