Corporate Environmental Responsibility (CER) refers to a company’s duty to work to avoid damaging natural the natural environment. While it’s important that we private persons do everything we can to make our daily living habits more environmentally friendly, we also need to stick it to the corporations and businesses around us to do their part as well. Many investors look at a company’s environmental responsibility before they invest in its stock. Even if you’re not a shareholder, you can support the environment by voting with your dollars and buying goods and services from companies with environmentally friendly practices. There are some essential markers to keep in mind when we evaluate a company’s environmental impact (and lack thereof).
One of the main tenants of CER is reducing waste and emissions. Companies can do this by reducing their paper usage and using electronic documents instead. Businesses can make an effort to use recycled materials and even install solar panels, install windows for more natural light, or use another form of sustainable energy. When companies that operate on a large scale make these changes, it can make a huge impact. Market leaders that do this set an example that their competitors will follow. Companies in the manufacturing sector have a particularly high responsibility to reduce carbon emissions and waste. Companies that engage in environmentally challenging practices should adhere to standards and methods of controlling waste. For example, hydraulic fracturing companies are now required to find helpful ways of reusing produced water. And car companies have for several years now been developing cars that are at least partially electric as well as cars with improved gas mileage.
Businesses might employ a consulting service or contractor to help evaluate the environmental safety and impact of the company. Some companies will survey a site for things like asbestos and lead and guide a company through meeting environmental guidelines.
You might look to see if the building in which the company operates is certified by the Leadership Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). LEED is a system devised by United States Green Building Council that ranks buildings based on their level of sustainability and environmental practices of the day-to-day operations of the building as well as its construction. LEED-certified buildings may rank as “Certified,” “Silver,” “Gold,” or “Platinum.” Companies in LEED-certified buildings have already set a strong precedent or further environmentally healthy practices.
There are some excellent resources out there that can help consumers determine the level of environmental impact or ethics a company has, as well as the social ethics. You can look at Ethical Consumer or Rank a Brand, for starters. You may also simply do a Google search about the company’s ethics. Some companies may talk a big game on their publications but actually have a sketchy history. It’s important to research these companies to get the real scoop. It’s important to look at aspects such as sourcing, waste, chemicals used, and the amount the company invests in projects like planting trees and conserving resources. You may also want to research the social ethics of the company. Fortunately, healthy social and environmental practices often go hand-in-hand.