In the past decade, we’ve seen the effects of climate change, deforestation, and pollution on our worldwide communities. An entire generation is now entering the workforce with this reality weighing heavily on their career decisions, living locations, and day-to-day purchases. There hasn’t been one aspect of their lives not impacted by the very real reality that something needs to change. A Nielsen poll determined that 81% of consumers believe companies are responsible for improving the state of the environment. Knowing that, how are you communicating your sustainability efforts to your future customers?
Reliable data backs up the pivot in consumerism toward more sustainable and eco-aligned businesses. Studies have shown that companies with a high environmental, social, and governance (ESG) rating consistently outperform their market in the short and long term. So even small shifts in how companies address sustainability can significantly impact their top and bottom lines.
At Packed with Purpose, the purveyors we partner with directly or indirectly address this reality within their missions. Consumers and businesses alike can learn a lot about making firm commitments to small changes that move the needle toward a more eco-friendly and sustainable existence.
Here are a few of the companies embedding sustainability into the fabric of their operations and modeling how we can do good business while doing good for the environment.
Sustainable, recyclable packaging
When talking about eco-friendly practices, the first thought that comes to mind is recycling. An estimated 292.4 million tons of municipal solid waste (about five pounds per person per day) are produced each year. We learn at a young age that recycling is a critical part of our efforts to reduce the mass amounts of waste accumulating in landfills. But recycling at the individual level can only do so much. There’s also a need for more companies to use eco-friendly packaging that makes the breakdown of refuse even easier.
Purveyors like Big Heart Tea are committed to “plastic-free tea,” producing bags made from a biodegradable woven mesh called Soilon (a completely compostable corn starch material). Another purveyor, B.A.R.E Soaps, wraps their products in plantable seed paper to give their packaging a different, earth-friendly use after purchase.
And, we would be remiss to forget that we designed our own packaging with sustainability in mind. Each Packed with Purpose box is created with recycled material, printed with environmentally-friendly inks, and is 100 percent recyclable. It’s a small consideration with significant impact (and it looks great, too!)
Even before you unwrap your favorite candy bar or unbox a new pair of shoes, there’s the issue of how that object got to you. Getting products into consumers’ hands in a global economy has had staggering impacts on air quality. A whopping 50% of NOx (nitrogen oxide) pollution is caused by freight transportation, and that number is expected to grow exponentially by 2024.
With this in mind, businesses are looking for ways to embed sustainability into their own supply chains and distribution. Purveyors like Sun & Swell Foods have committed to ecologically friendly sourcing, carbon-neutral shipping, and compostable packaging elements using a two-pronged approach:
- Source → Purveyor: Their sourcing methods are based on proximity (California-based first, then US farms next) and choosing importers (when an ingredient is too hard to find stateside) that meet high ethical farming standards. This reduces the distance the product must travel to be processed, a keystone of environmentally friendly freight.
- Purveyor → customer: Sun & Swell also participates in carbon-neutral shipping, by which distributors commit to supporting projects that offset the emissions of the shipment’s transport, like reforestation or wastewater management.
By analyzing each part of the supply chain and making small but powerful decisions on deliverability, they help cut down on air pollution and the impact their operations have on their customers and community.
Sustainable agriculture is a critical part of living sustainably, and no one knows that better than farmers. SpudLove, a fifth-generation potato farming operation in Oregon, continues to lower their land impact through closed-loop sustainability. That means each element of their farming benefits the next: manure becomes fertilizer, cover crops become food for cows, and everything comes full circle. They also practice regenerative farming, which allows the land to rest and revive between growing cycles and requires less human intervention. The result is a highly sustainable, tasty crop of eco-friendly potatoes.
At the end of the day, the greatest factor in encouraging more businesses to make eco-friendly choices is the almighty dollar. Some of our purveyors are committed to donating a portion of their proceeds to causes that, in some cases, are able to make an even more significant impact. No matter the mechanism, more companies are now seeing how they can actively shape environmental justice and climate change.
Companies like KeepCup are already thinking about the impact their product will have from a sustainability perspective. While their stylish cups have prevented tons of solid waste from ending up in landfills, there’s still work to do on making sure the materials that make up these cups create less of an impact on the environment. It’s a welcome reminder that your company does not have to integrate sustainability on the first try perfectly; the transparency of continued efforts makes all the difference and inspires other companies to do the same.
Prioritize the planet
There are many additional ways our purveyors and other companies worldwide are approaching sustainability in their day-to-day operations and production. But that’s not the only way we’ll get closer to a healthier, happier planet. If you’re an individual or a company that deals with intangible products, there are still many opportunities to move toward a more eco-friendly workplace:
- Make energy-efficient upgrades to shrink your carbon footprint and save money.
- Show your commitment to better air quality and reducing emissions through in-office policies. Encourage employees to use public transportation by offering commuter benefits or offer remote work options.
- Reduce waste and reuse office materials when possible. Ensure your office supports and communicates about recycling paper, plastic, and other materials.
- Buy from green businesses committed to sustainable production, freight, and giving, so that your dollars support initiatives that match your values.
Lastly, when you’re thinking about your next conference swag bag, employee recognition gift, or even client prospecting gifts, think about the bigger picture. Choose sustainably produced and packaged products that create a positive impact for the recipient and the planet. By buying green and supporting companies that practice strong sustainability, you amplify and raise their credibility along with your own.