Investing in our planet – Caroline
What does “Investing in our Planet” mean?
Investing in our planet can mean a variety of things. For corporations, it can mean changing company policies to preserve our Earth’s resources (composting at the office), reducing energy consumption (turning off the lights), or literally investing money with ESG funds (mutual funds and ETFs) that are specifically focused on environmental, social, and governance principles.
To successfully invest in our planet, corporations must include sustainability practices in all areas of their business AND consistently follow through. Saying you’re going to “go green” sounds great, but actually doing it is what makes an impact. “With meaningful action and policies, companies can create efficient operations that encourage growth and inflict minimal harm on the environment.” Investing in sustainability means it is not an afterthought, but instead is automatically incorporated into every conversation at every level and every department.
There are small scale and large scale examples. Does the company provide 5000 plastic water bottles at a large event, or invest in 5000 recyclable, aluminum, canned waters? Do they work towards becoming a B Corporation? These are questions companies should be asking themselves and we should be asking them.
Why invest in our planet?
Having a healthy planet is the priority. The harsh reality is that without a healthy Earth, humanity and our surrounding environment will not survive. “Nature gives us everything we need: homes, medicinal plants, water, oxygen, etc. All natural resources are not renewable, one day we will all disappear without realizing it.” But besides general survival, by investing in our planet, we can have enjoyable and happy lives while “cohabitating” with the Earth and her natural state! Through efforts such as reducing employees’ carbon footprint and “creating a climate-conscious workplace culture” we can have improved mental and physical health, regulate our climate, and overall reduce toxins in our atmosphere that will allow us to all live full and healthy lives. Maybe one day we can all (sustainably) get rid of our Brita filters!
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What role do companies play in investing in the planet? What can I do as an individual?
The strides we have made to address our mistakes are impressive, but we have a long way to go. As individuals, there are many changes we can make in our daily lives to invest in a healthier planet. But, even if we did convince everyone to not over consume, we would still need more help from corporations. Not using a plastic straw is a step in the right direction, but “corporations produce just about everything we buy, use, and throw away and play an outsized role in driving global climate change…15 U.S. food and beverage companies generate nearly 630 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses every year”. Fifteen food and beverage companies make that much of a negative impact on our environment! Imagine the effects of the energy, fashion, and transportation industries.
How can companies contribute positively to sustainability efforts?
Sustainable supply chains are vital for driving realistic transformations. Why? Because supply chains are the bulk of where a company’s environmental impact is. “Supply chain sustainability refers to companies’ efforts to consider the environmental and human impact of their products’ journey through the supply chain, from raw materials sourcing to production, storage, delivery and every transportation link in between.” Many companies have goals but aim for vague concepts related to “being green”. For long-term success, companies require the technology and comprehensive programs to track their progress and stay committed while working towards science-based objectives.
The good news is there are many companies that have successfully implemented a sustainable supply chain into their practice. They accomplish this by fully evaluating their supply chain from the top to the bottom and seeking continuous improvement. Their next step is to take action. Adjusting to a shorter and more local supply chain requires less transportation and can help reduce carbon emissions. Changing to vendors that align and agree on these sustainable practices can lead to better adoption short-term and long-term. These actions are important because with such massive global production, companies hold the power and capability to significantly alleviate the effects of climate change in methods that individuals do not.
Because investing in our planet is the only option and companies impact our environment at such a large scale, what can we do as individuals? We can support the corporations that genuinely invest their time, energy, and efforts into mitigating their effect on the world. Do your research before you buy that new sweater or even that new vehicle. Consider where your money is going and who you are supporting. Research takes five minutes, but negative impacts to the environment last a lifetime. Help contribute to a healthier planet and advocate for companies to do the same!