Can business be a ‘green’ force for good?

A lot of people talk about greening their business but what does it actually involve? Hint: it doesn’t mean filling your office with indoor plants (despite that making it look a lot greener). In February 2018, Dog and Bone signed up to partake in City of Darebin’s Green your Business initiative, an ongoing community wide effort to improve businesses’ sustainability and environmental impact. The initiative helps businesses adopt greener practices across a range of areas and recognises those businesses that already have them in place. A concept that we’re all reasonably familiar with these days. If you find yourself curious, participating businesses are listed on the City of Darebin’s Green Business directory. Given today is World Environment Day, what better time to reflect on what it means to be a ‘green’ or aspiring ‘green’ business; why we, as an ethical business believe being environmentally conscious is important and why movements like the B-Corp one are pushing for a greener, sustainable economy too.

Thinking about the impact your business has on the environment and making changes to ensure that it’s a good one, is exactly the kind of thinking that underpins the B-Corp philosophy. If you don’t know what B-Corp is, it’s worth looking into. In short though, the B-Corp movement aims to build a global economy made up of businesses that balance purpose with profit in order to have a meaningful and ‘positive impact [on] employees, communities and environment’ (B-Lab, 2019). Precisely what we set out to do when we started Dog and Bone. When we certified as a B-Corp in 2016 we were excited to have found a movement so closely aligned with our values. Although the rigorous B-Corp assessment takes a lot of time and effort it’s a certification well worth having given it’s ‘the only certification that measures a company’s entire social and environmental performance’ (B-Lab, 2019), and a movement well worth joining. Currently, there are over 2,500 B-Corps, in over 50 countries (120 of which are in Melbourne).

Being a B-Corp and ethical business, Dog and Bone has always strongly believed in the importance of running an environmentally conscious business and encouraging the broader community to do the same. There are many big and small things that can be done as a business to contribute to a more sustainable future. Increasingly the business world is realising that not only is there a good business case to be made for ‘going green’ but also that it is an absolute necessity in the face of significant environmental issues such as the plastic crisis and climate change. Although green initiatives can be perceived by some businesses as a costly burden, ‘environmentally inclined investment can in many ways bolster financial performance, be it directly through reduction in operating costs, or indirectly through the reputational advantages that may be obtained by an environmental focus.’ (Green, IBISWorld, 2018). For example you may not think that working from home has much to do with being a greener business but one report suggested that exploring ‘flexible work arrangements and work from home schemes’ could not only result in ‘potential benefits to employee motivation and retention, such practices also allow employees to cut down on their travel time and, thereby, their CO2 emissions,’ (Green, IBISWorld, 2018).

While good government policy and campaigns are critical in leading the way towards an environmentally sustainable future, businesses also have a huge role to play and can have a massive impact on the movement towards a greener more sustainable world. We have the opportunity as a community of businesses to show true leadership and use business as a force for good. We all have the opportunity to be the change the world needs, whether it’s through simple and easy things you can do to improve your business’ environmental impact such as these  or a more thought out and purposeful shift in the thinking that drives your business’ decisions around environmental sustainability such as these. We believe, that every effort is worth it and, on that note, Happy World Environment Day!