You might think of ESG Reports and meeting Climate Change impact reduction goals when you think about a measurable sustainability initiative. And that’s fair because it’s true, but there is another very powerful aspect that (a good) sustainability initiative creates: we power up our people.
Taking action for the planet renders happiness
Motivation, momentum, and interest in solving a problem are key human emotions required when we want to tackle an issue like eliminating single-use plastic waste. An Institute of Technology in Sonora study showed a positive relationship between connectedness to nature and sustainable behaviors and their impact on happiness. The study showed that when we perceive ourselves as connected to nature and perform more sustainable actions, the more equitable we are in life and the greater we perceive our happiness. All of this contributes to a more positive psychology.
When we take action, it’s not just the environment we’re impacting; when we take care of the planet, we take care of its most vulnerable inhabitants, including humans affected by droves of waste. That’s why organizations that take on bans like single-use plastic bottled water and waste reduction initiatives while tying them to social and environmental justice purposes help build trust in the organization and corporate community. Caring and asking our teams to get involved increases a sense of belonging, rapport, and happiness.
Measurable impact comes first
It's important for companies to prioritize measurable impact when implementing sustainability initiatives. These initiatives have the ability to positively impact the environment, employees, and the company's overall reputation. By setting specific goals and tracking progress, a company can identify areas where it can improve its environmental performance. This includes reducing carbon emissions, waste, and water usage. However, it's also important to consider how these measures contribute to environmental justice and support communities and employees. Companies that take action on sustainability are viewed more favorably by investors, stakeholders, and the general public, which can lead to increased trust, brand loyalty, and long-term success.
The need for more measurable initiatives
As the world continues to grapple with the ongoing effects of climate change, there is an increasing need for companies to step up and take action. According to reports from Deloitte and the MacArthur Foundation, sustainability initiatives are not only crucial for reducing carbon emissions and waste, but they also have the potential to benefit businesses in numerous ways. At PATH, we believe that corporate sustainability is not only a responsibility but an opportunity for companies to lead by example and positively impact the planet.
Three Sustainability Initiatives from Companies that Lead by Example:
- Tesla, led by CEO Elon Musk, is known for its commitment to electric vehicles and renewable energy. Tesla's mission is to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy. The company has made significant progress in developing affordable and efficient electric cars and innovative battery and solar technologies.
- Patagonia, an outdoor apparel company, has long been a sustainability and environmental activism leader. The company has implemented numerous initiatives to reduce its environmental impact, such as implementing PATH reusable bottles at headquarters, using recycled materials in its products, and committing to fair labor practices. Patagonia has also been vocal in its support for environmental legislation and causes, donating millions of dollars to grassroots organizations that improve environmental conditions.
- Interface, a global commercial flooring company, has set ambitious sustainability goals, including a commitment to zero environmental impact. The company has implemented numerous sustainability initiatives, such as using recycled materials in its products, reducing waste and emissions, and promoting sustainable supply chain practices.
Sustainability initiatives are a key component of a company's environmental, social, and governance (ESG) framework. ESG refers to the three main factors investors consider when evaluating a company's sustainability and ethical impact. Environmental factors include a company's impact on the planet, such as its carbon emissions, resource use, and waste management. Social factors include a company's impact on people, such its labor practices, human rights records, and community engagement. Governance factors refer to a company's management and leadership, including its transparency, accountability, and ethical practices.
Research has shown that acting on sustainability initiatives can lead to increased happiness and employee retention. A study by Boston University found that employees who worked for companies with solid sustainability practices reported higher job satisfaction and were more likely to stay with their employer. Another study published in the Journal of Business Ethics revealed that employees who perceived their companies as having a strong commitment to sustainability were more engaged, more committed to their organization, and more likely to recommend their employer to others.
Additionally, companies prioritizing sustainability and ESG factors often perform better financially in the long run. Research has shown that companies with strong ESG performance tend to have better risk management, lower costs, and higher returns on investment. This makes ESG and sustainability initiatives an important tool for companies looking to create long-term value and build a resilient and sustainable business model.
According to a report from NYU, ESG integration can result in improved financial performance over the long term, with corporate investments in environmental sustainability having positive effects in the longer term. Studies have shown that long-term commitments, such as those focusing on material ESG issues, can lead to positive reactions from the stock market.
ESG integration as a strategy seems to perform better than negative screening approaches. Corporate sustainability strategies can drive better financial performance through factors such as stakeholder relations, risk management, operational efficiency, and innovation. Managing for a low-carbon future has also been shown to improve financial performance. However, ESG disclosure on its own does not drive financial performance, and measuring ESG metrics without an accompanying strategy and set of specific initiatives seems ineffective. These findings are based on a review of various studies conducted over the past few years.
Implementing sustainability initiatives not only helps companies address their ESG framework but also contributes to employee happiness and retention, ultimately improving the company's overall performance and long-term resilience.
Sustainability initiatives on single-use plastic bottled water
Sustainability initiatives can play a significant role in reducing the negative impact of single-use plastic bottled water on the environment. Bottled water is a major source of plastic waste, with billions of single-use plastic bottles discarded every year, many of which end up in landfills and oceans.
A single-use plastic bottled water ban can help companies reduce their reliance on single-use bottled water and shift towards more environmentally friendly alternatives, such as reusable bottles and water refill stations. Such initiatives can also help companies reduce their carbon footprint by cutting down on the energy required to produce and transport single-use bottled water.
In addition, sustainability initiatives can help raise awareness among consumers about the environmental impact of bottled water, encourage them to adopt more sustainable behaviors, and promote a culture of sustainability.
Facts to know
- A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute, and the number is expected to increase by 20% by 2021 (source: The Guardian).
- By 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by weight (source: World Economic Forum).
- Producing bottled water requires approximately 2000 times more energy than producing tap water, and the plastic used in bottled water production contributes to greenhouse gas emissions (source: The Water Project).
- Single-use plastic bottles can take up to 1000 years to decompose (source: National Geographic).
- Businesses that implement sustainability initiatives can not only improve their brand reputation and attract customers who prioritize eco-friendliness but also reduce operational costs and increase profits in the long term (source: Harvard Business Review).
Crafting effective sustainability initiatives
Crafting effective sustainability initiatives requires reliable resources and a commitment to making real change. At PATH, we partner with corporations to help them reduce or eliminate single-use plastic bottled water usage, which is one of the biggest contributors to plastic waste in the world. Our approach focuses on education, behavior change, and infrastructure improvements to make it easier for employees and customers to choose sustainable alternatives.
To help companies get started on their own sustainability journey, we've outlined 10 key ways to create and measure the impact of their initiatives:
- Set clear sustainability goals and targets that align with your company's values and mission.
- Develop a comprehensive sustainability strategy that includes measurable targets, timelines, and budgets.
- Engage employees, customers, and stakeholders in developing and implementing sustainability initiatives.
- Conduct a thorough assessment of your company's current sustainability practices and identify areas for improvement.
- Invest in sustainable infrastructure and technology, such as energy-efficient buildings, renewable energy sources, and waste reduction systems.
- Implement sustainable supply chain practices, such as responsible sourcing, reducing packaging waste, and minimizing transportation emissions.
- Incorporate sustainability into product design and development to reduce the environmental impact of your products.
- Measure and report on your sustainability progress using reliable and transparent metrics.
- Engage with stakeholders and communicate your sustainability initiatives to build trust and support.
- Continuously improve and innovate your sustainability initiatives to stay ahead of the game and drive positive change.
The power of measurable sustainability initiatives goes beyond addressing environmental concerns and ESG frameworks. These initiatives also play a critical role in enhancing employee happiness and retention and fostering a sense of belonging within organizations. Companies that take a proactive approach to sustainability, especially in tackling single-use plastic waste and promoting environmental justice, build trust within their corporate communities and contribute positively to the overall well-being of both their employees and the planet.
Moreover, prioritizing measurable impact and setting clear goals for sustainability initiatives is essential for companies to improve their environmental performance, reduce their carbon footprint, and ensure long-term success. As the world grapples with the ongoing effects of climate change, the need for companies to step up and take action has never been more urgent.
Partnering to Save the Planet
By partnering with PATH, companies can create a meaningful difference in reducing single-use plastic waste and ultimately protecting our planet for future generations. Tackle single-use plastic bottled water by partnering with PATH to save the planet - an initiative that makes reducing waste