What is a 'green' business in 2022?
First off, I should address how ‘green business’ is a dangerously vague term. Being ‘green’ is often used as a business claim because it’s an easy catch-all phrase, however it is inextricably associated with greenwashing due to lack of proper evidence when put under scrutiny.
Below are my tips for evaluating whether a business is green...or not as green as they claim.
Green businesses make it formal
To me, a green business takes formal steps to understand and reduce their environmental impacts. If I am interested in learning more about whether a business is ‘green’, I will go to their website and look for any sort of documentation or accreditation. This should clearly break down:
a) what the company are currently doing to manage their environmental impacts and
b) what they are planning on doing to further reduce their environmental impacts
Accreditation is also a good indicator of a ‘green’ business – look out for ISO 14001, B Corp, or a third party Environmental Climate Action Plan.
Green businesses are transparent
Secondly, a green business takes responsibility for its environmental impacts. When I am investigating whether a business is responsible, I look for transparency.
Are they honest about the life cycle of their products? Are they upfront about the environmental impact of their operations?
I am more likely to perceive a business as ‘green’ if it is upfront about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Obviously, we don’t want too much ‘ugly’, and this links to reputational management, but this is how supply chain engagement can help limit the risk of uncovering something sinister such as pollution, fly-tipping, or non-compliance. Our service, Kanopi, helps to engage suppliers and support them in being legally compliant as well as helping them to develop an action plan. This assists the whole business ecosystem in becoming ‘greener’.
Green businesses don't stop at carbon
Finally, a green business takes a holistic view of its environmental impacts, working around a range of environmental aspects to maximise reduction opportunities. Everyone is rightly obsessed with carbon due to its link with climate change, however an ecosystem requires balance, and many businesses are getting away with claiming to be a green business just because they are Net Zero carbon. I want to see consideration of resource management, water and energy efficiency, customer support on how they can mend or recycle their products, a green procurement policy, volunteering within the local community – you get the idea. Carbon footprinting is a great start but should not be the limit of a business’s efforts.
I’ve had my say, but if you’re worried about the technical definitions of being a green business, I’d highly recommend familiarising yourself with the Green Claims Code.
If you have any questions about getting started with green initiatives or action plans, feel free to drop us an email or call for a no obligation discussion about your challenges. We have carbon footprinting services, Environmental Climate Action Plans, and supply chain management solutions which all help to support your truly green business!