What Are Some Examples of ESG Actions Businesses Can Take?

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by Eric Burdon
Image of businessman at desk holding wooden ESG cube, next to pyramid of similar cubes and a globe of the Earth
Image by www.freepik.com

Many businesses seek to envision ESG efforts that they can make and, ideally, how to immediately see them take effect. From using recycled paper to using environmentally friendly products and reducing energy consumption, these efforts are important for businesses to adopt, but many fail to realise that such efforts can be expanded. And not just at the individual to the community levels, but finding ways for inter-organisational departments to participate in unique ways.

Sustainability can mean so many different things, and to give some ideas, here are some particular actions businesses can consider when diving into sustainability efforts and projects.

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Adopting A Core Mindset

To start, idea generation is key for businesses, and to expand the possibilities, it’s important to adopt a broader mindset. This means changing how people think generally about sustainability and ESG. Sustainability is more than just trees. Sustainability is essentially a strategy that accounts for the “triple bottom line”.

Sustainability is about people, the planet, and profit. It’s about balancing these three aspects and accounting for factors that normally wouldn’t be considered in business. Not only are you thinking about the environmental impact, but also the social impact. It’s critical to understand that, to effect environmental progress, we need to first support people, employees, ourselves, since we are the engines of change.

The final aspect, profit, is a consequence of robust progress in the first two areas. 

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Making The Purpose Big Enough

When adopting that core mindset of sustainability, a good example of what a business can do is to make the endeavour have a lasting, positive impact. Some budget-friendly options that companies can consider in these cases are:

  • Build a community garden or do tree planting.

  • Clothing or food drives, donate what your team doesn’t need.

  • Offer a scholarship for local students or start an internship programme.

  • Sponsor a local arts initiative: think theatre, musical, improv groups.

  • Let staff or customers decide on your next initiative. Let staff volunteer!

The frequency can also be considered. Even if the act is small, it can add up. Especially for particular industries. For example, a local thrift store can consider using clothing donations to make quilts or patchwork clothing, or a business can donate to those thrift stores and pass the idea along.

Here are some great examples of what happens when those small ideas gain traction and are emulated by big businesses. And here are details of a great app, Active Giving, you can use to turn your employees' sport and exercise aims into real impact.

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Provide Considerable Value Over Profit

When going for sustainability, oftentimes the costs outweigh the potential profits, and that’s okay. When going to the grocery store, buying organic vegetables and fruit costs more than buying non-organic versions of the exact same item. However, people still pick organic because of the additional value (whether the reasoning is nutrition or otherwise) that these items bring.

Sustainability works in the same way where it’ll cost you more in the end, but the extra value will pay off long-term. People will remember what you did for the community and the benefits that you brought when you focus on adding more value to people and the community.

Going back to the ideas mentioned above, those projects can lead to providing more value to communities. A community garden can help you build a stock of ingredients, which can let you hold cooking classes, for example.

Reusable Packaging

While it is nice to have recycled packaging, making your packaging 100% reusable is the better option. Returning cups, reusing glass jars or bottles, and incentivising and instructing customers to do those actions is a good step forward. These change individuals' perceptions of brands and also reinforce loyalty.

It feels good when people are able to feel good about these things. Especially if it means saving a bit of money in the process too.

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Some Of Many

The idea behind sustainability is how businesses can make a much larger impact on the communities around them than just the environment. In a lot of cases, it’s often about looking at social issues and addressing them in your own way that is still on brand for the company.

Even when a brand isn’t remotely related to sustainability or green initiatives, we know ESG standards have a way of being relevant to every business in every sector. ESG efforts produce measurable value to companies. The big thing is finding out what problems the industry has and how they can be addressed on a micro or macro level.

Follow our Featured Articles for plenty of insight into ESG and how sustainability can play a key role, whatever the size of your company.

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