For decades the titans of business and industry have been the enemy of the environment. We’ve taken what we’ve needed from our planet to further our goals and not given all that much thought about the toxicity of our waste as we’ve done it. But over the years scientific advances have afforded us a far greater understanding of the world we inhabit and how our activities affect it. Not just have businesses become more aware of the environmental cost of their operations, their consumers have, too! We now live in an age where businesses are more accountable than ever to the consumers who patronize them. In an era where customers can take your business to task on social media for neglecting your environmental responsibilities, many a savvy entrepreneur has asked themselves how they can make their business greener.
We’ve seen a huge shift in the auto industry towards more sustainable technologies with research into cars that run on electricity, hydrogen and even coffee beans. But while some industries are logically associated with environmental damage than others, it’s safe to say that we can all do our bit to rethink our operations, products and practices to ensure a greener company. In virtually all cases, an increased sense of environmental responsibility not only makes for great PR but attracts the attention of a rising tide of consumers for whom an environmental conscience is a far bigger decision motivator than cost. 66% of millennial consumers, for example, are willing to pay more for products that are more sustainable.
Water water everywhere… But possibly not for much longer
There are many areas in which businesses of all kinds can increase their profile, draw new customers and even save money by rethinking the environmental costs of their operations. Here, we’ll be looking at water conservation. Every business, whether a multinational corporate leviathan or a humble Mom ‘n’ Pop store can stand to benefit from conserving water.
Since water falls out of the sky (often more likely than we’d like) we can fool ourselves into thinking that it’s over abundant. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Whether we’re aware of it or not, we’re fast reaching the point where global demand for water is fast outstripping supply. Water, like any natural resource, is finite. As much as 20% of the world’s population does not have access to clean drinking water. While the “recipe” for water is fairly simple (add 2 parts hydrogen to one part oxygen) manufacturing more isn’t really viable. Thus, it’s essential for today’s businesses to have a water stewardship policy. Here are a few places where you can start…
Carry out a water audit to identify areas of waste
Sure some areas of water waste like the odd leaky tap or dripping pipe may be visually evident but the best way to comprehensively account for wasted water is by carrying out a commercial water audit. This will help you to identify areas in which you can curb water waste and capitalize on opportunities for conservation.
Serve vegan food in your cafeteria
A growing proportion of the world’s population are switching to a plant based diet. This is motivated partly by animal advocacy, partly by health (processed meats, after all are a type 1 carcinogen just like cigarettes), and partly by environmental awareness. Raising animals for slaughter or milking carries a colossal water footprint while growing plant crops can feed more mouths with a fraction of the water footprint. Beef is the worst offender here. Growing feed for livestock consumes 55% of all water in the US. It costs 2,500 gallons of water to raise 1 pound of beef. Almost 900 gallons are required to produce a pound of cheese and 477 gallons for a pound of eggs and 1,000 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of milk. On the other hand a pound of wheat takes only 25 gallons to produce.
Thus, in stocking your cafeteria with tasty and healthy vegan foods you’re not only showing your employees that you value and understand their lifestyle choices, you’re taking a huge step to lower your business’ water footprint.
Invest in new technologies
Sufficient investment in research and development is the cornerstone of healthy and sustainable business growth. However, investing in new technologies is one of the easiest ways to reduce water waste. This could mean purchasing more water efficient tools, machinery and equipment or it could mean investing in research into new and less wasteful processes. While this may require some initial upfront investment it will likely quickly pay for itself in terms of water savings and efficiency.
Outsource to ethical service providers
As comprehensive as your business plan may be, there will likely be blind spots that are best left to an external service provider. What you may not realize is just how much more water efficient you could make your operation by switching service providers. It’s fairly easy today to find manufacturers who use water efficient technologies. You can find more at AeroMfg.com. But you can even marketing and PR agencies with an increased focus on sustainability and environmental ethics as the world’s economy veers towards businesses who have an eye on the environmental cost of their operations.
Encourage employee engagement
As the CEO of your business, it’s up to you to lead the charge. You lead by example and instill the values and ideals upon which your business was based in each and every employee. Yet, this does not mean that you must singlehandedly take responsibility for your enterprise’s water conservation. All of your employees share this responsibility so it makes sense to engage them and invite more ideas on how they can do their part to make your business more water efficient. Often your employees will drive innovation by pursuing ideas that you could never have thought of alone and this is no exception.
To today’s consumers, an ethical conscience and a comprehensive water stewardship strategy are no longer a novelty but a necessity. Fail to move with the times in the matter of water conservation and your business may just be left in the dust!