Impact Award-winning company outlines actions toward a brighter, greener future
Did you know that Georgians want to see environmental sustainability operations and environmentally conscious sourcing as part of a company’s corporate character? We confirmed this insight in our recent survey of Georgia employed adults. So, what does this look like in companies big and small; for consumer-facing companies as well as all companies interested in demonstrating this element of generosity to their employees?
To find out the answer, we reached out to Pete Davis, Co-founder and CEO of GreenPrint to get his thoughts on practical ways any size business can implement environmental sustainability.
In this interview we learned a few realistic ways to be generously green
How can companies prioritize sustainability efforts in their internal operations, sourcing, and culture?
Internal operations and culture are a great place to start because the business demonstrates leadership from within, which makes communicating sustainability commitments to stakeholders even more authentic. At GreenPrint, we see traditional volunteerism as a strong sustainability option for many reasons. By participating in local tree-planting projects, revitalizing natural habitats, and developing urban green spaces, we honor our mission by empowering small, hands-on action to effect greater positive change.
When it comes to our employees, we go beyond offsetting our office emissions and tackle the indirect emissions of our employees’ daily commutes and business travel. We do the calculation and offset the carbon emission to the total office operations direct and indirect.
We also look at the electricity consumption of our entire building and invest in renewable energy certificates (RECs) to offset 100% of the electricity consumption for our building.
Do you have a few ideas for integrating sustainability authentically? Your recent research study reinforced the importance of environmental practices to consumers.
According to GreenPrint’s Business of Sustainability Index, released last month, more than three-fourths (77%) of Americans stated they are concerned with the environmental impact of their purchases, and nearly two-thirds (64%) are willing to pay more for sustainable products. A majority of Americans demand sustainability over harmful, cheaper alternatives.
And these numbers aren’t empty words. Consumers are taking action with their wallets.
So, the upshot is clear that companies should advance and communicate their sustainability efforts if they want to capture more customers. Integrating environmental sustainability authentically doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does require action where impacts can be both measured and demonstrated. A few quick ideas include:
- swap plastics for recycled materials,
- encourage less travel to the office and to client sites, and
- run storefronts on renewable energy and compost waste.
The research also pointed out a trust gap. How can generous-minded businesses retain consumer confidence?
We found a distinctive trust gap and some clear solutions:
EFFECTIVE LABELING. While consumers want to buy environmentally friendly products, three-quarters of Americans (74%) don’t know how to identify them. There are a number of valid reasons for consumer confusion. For one, terms like ‘sustainable’ and ‘eco-friendly’ are non-specific, so it’s difficult to judge exactly what they entail. It’s often hard to parse out how much of a concrete difference you’re making by choosing to buy a product advertising with these terms. This is not to say they are bad or ineffective, but perhaps more specific information or better labeling is required.
THIRD-PARTY VALIDATION. 53% of Americans say they have doubts when companies claim to be environmentally friendly. Even if you’re getting your message across, it might not resonate. So how do businesses convince that large swath of consumers who want to buy more sustainably but who fail to identify or trust their options in doing so? There are several organizations that can help certify sustainability data, and there are also sustainability reporting standards that help put environmental impact into comparable contexts.
CARBON OFFSETS. Another idea would be purchasing carbon offsets for either your business as a whole or tied to specific products and services. Carbon offsets offer one of the most straightforward solutions. They are by definition, third-party validated and scientifically proven methodologies to sequester and neutralize your carbon footprint. Products and services clearly tied to carbon offsets demonstrate a trustworthy and verifiable commitment to sustainability.
What inspired you to start GreenPrint?
The idea for GreenPrint was inspired by a few things, but the light bulb moment was after a trip to the grocery store to buy eggs over a decade ago. I opted to buy cage-free eggs for a premium price because it felt like a better, more ethical choice, and I immediately felt good about my purchase. I knew if we could create a business that was able to add sustainable attributes at a product level, it could create a model where businesses would benefit from doing the right thing. We could make sustainability truly convenient and enable more consumers to make better choices that would ensure a brighter future for us all.