How to Advocate for Sustainable Practices in Your Workplace
Guest article by Charlie Fletcher
Our planet’s longevity is dependent on individual and collective sustainability practices. Reducing energy consumption, limiting water usage, responsible recycling, or driving an electric car are just a few examples of methods that help save our planet.
As much as the world appreciates our individual commitments to sustainability, we need businesses to claim their stake in this fight too.
Many organizations fail to explore how their operations impact the environment. But others have stepped up and committed to changing their ways for the betterment of our planet.
Although it seems like implementing sustainable practices in the workplace is all up to company leaders, it’s not. Instead, employees can take it upon themselves to advocate for change in their organizations.
Be Diligent About Practicing Sustainability Yourself
Often, people get overwhelmed when thinking about their responsibility in big changes they desire out of their company. They ask themselves, “How can I make all of this happen?” An employee advocating for sustainable practices in their workplace is no different.
If you work at a big business, implementing sustainable practices company-wide doesn’t seem feasible. But just like any other change, it needs to start with you. Be an example to your coworkers, managers, and company leaders on how to practice sustainability.
Start small. Find little ways to integrate green practices at your company by yourself. Consistently recycle and reduce your waste in the workplace. Bring in energy-efficient devices like LED lighting or a solar-powered keyboard to make sustainability a part of your day. Bring leftovers into work to share with coworkers regularly to reduce food waste.
Your practices may lead others in the office to begin conversations with you about why you’re so committed. You can, in turn, let them know why they should be too.
Encourage Coworkers to Implement Sustainable Practices
When you practice sustainability yourself and make it known in your workplace, it will eventually lead to deeper discussions about your practices. You can encourage your coworkers to implement sustainable practices in their lives as well.
For example, if a coworker asks you about how you reduce your food waste, you can educate them on how these simple practices help the environment. Teach them how eggshells can be used as seed starter pods in the garden or curb problems with snails and slugs in plants. You can inform them how banana peels help the soil, and coffee grounds are good for plants that love nitrogen.
Show your coworkers how to implement these practices in their personal life. Then, encourage them to participate in your efforts to bring sustainable practices to the workplace. Have meaningful conversations with them about the benefits of a healthier planet.
Research Sustainability and Share How Your Workplace Benefits
If you want to reach out to company leaders and push for change on a larger scale, you’ll need to do some thorough research that’ll directly impact your company first. Many business leaders are under the assumption that serious ecological change could disrupt and even negatively impact the company, especially when it comes to cost and profit. When making your argument to company leaders, you should lean heavily on research on why becoming more sustainable could affect public perception vs relying on “business sense.” To convince company leaders that integrating sustainability is a wise decision, you’ll want to gather information on:
- Companies that lead the way in sustainability practices and reap the benefits
- The benefits of becoming more sustainable for your company company
- Why sustainable practices in the workplace are useful
- How to implement these practices in your specific workplace
- The potential impact on customer relationships and sales
- Who and what would need to be involved in making this change
After gaining knowledge about sustainability and its impact on your workplace, you’ll want to see if you can present it to company leaders. Unfortunately, it may take some time to get company leaders to take you seriously.
So, continue building up your knowledge base. Then, build a case for sustainable practices using your branch or office as an example of success.
Encourage Company Leaders to Hire a Pro
If your company leaders do agree to your sustainability movement, it’s time to create a plan on how to move forward. One such direction you can take is to encourage company leaders to hire a director of corporate social responsibility to manage the sustainability commitments of the company as a whole.
According to Maryville University, “CSR professionals develop and implement policies intended to make a positive impact on both the community and the planet. Although organizations can be socially responsible in many ways, the most common initiatives include charitable giving, promoting volunteerism, and reducing an organization’s carbon footprint.”
Their job duties include:
- Creating a reasonable budget for social responsibility and sustainability commitments
- Working with the marketing department to determine how companies get their social responsibility commitments across to customers
- Working with the HR department to get current employees and potential candidates the information they need about how the company is practicing sustainability
- Planning and analyzing social responsibility initiatives and how they’d impact the company
- Creating initiatives and allocating resources to them
- Analyzing the financial impact of implementing sustainability practices in the workplace
You can’t bring sustainability to your company alone, which is why outside help is essential. By hiring someone who specializes in integrating sustainability practices in a company, you can rest easy knowing you’re doing the Earth a favor.
Sustainable practices in the workplace matter.
Employees working in businesses that have a way to go when it comes to practicing sustainability shouldn’t be afraid to advocate for change.
Be diligent about your sustainable practices, encourage coworkers to follow suit, gain as much knowledge as you can, present that knowledge to company leaders, and encourage them to hire a professional for guidance.
Charlie Fletcher is a freelance writer with a background in sociology, and a specific interest in sustainability practices, and how pollution affects certain groups of people.