According to Investopedia, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a self-regulating business model that helps a company be socially accountable – to itself, its stakeholders, and the public. Impacts include aspects of society, including economic, social, and environmental.
The true leaders who can implement change in our society are the huge corporations that we actively and passively interact with on a daily basis. Think about companies like Apple and Lululemon. These are two of the most dominant companies in their respective industries, but how are they participating in our great race towards a more sustainable future on Earth?
Apple was founded in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne. The multinational technology leader classifies under the consumer electronics sector as one of the Big Four technology companies alongside Amazon, Google and Microsoft.
Through completing my schooling at the University of Waterloo, a Canadian university known for its innovative reputation, many students want to pursue long-term careers at these expansive technology companies to fight for an opportunity to contribute to our future of evolving technologies.
Lululemon was the pioneer to what we know as athleisure apparel today. The multinational premium apparel company is based in Vancouver and was founded in 1998 by Chip Wilson.
I’m hoping to discover that these companies are more than just brand names; let’s see some progress.
Surely companies like Apple and Lululemon who make 10-figure revenues are doing something with CSR, right?
Apple, the tech giant, is currently focused on the environment and the mark they will leave on the world versus the planet, or better said by the Apple marketing team, “Truly innovative products leave their mark on the world instead of the planet.” According to Apple’s Environmental Responsibility Report (2019), Apple reached their goal of covering 100 percent of their energy needs for their operations with 100 percent renewable electricity.
To extend their achievement, they’ve made a goal to put 4 gigawatts of clean energy online by 2020 through including their manufacturers in this commitment; 4 gigawatts, that’s 4 billion watts of energy. That amount of energy could power well over 2.5 million households for an entire year.
In obtaining this energy through renewable sources, they are able to better control their carbon footprint and emissions. Below is an extract from their 2018 progress:
Expanding, how does a dominant player in one of the most wasteful industries, the clothing industry, help with lowering their carbon footprint?
On Lululemon’s website under Sustainability and Our Footprint, you can find that they aim to focus on eliminating waste and closed-loop innovation, making progress toward clean water and better chemistry, and addressing climate and energy across our communities, supply chain, and operations. To do so, they’ve projected they will be able to use 100 percent renewable energy at their owned and operated facilities by 2021 through exercising the following four strategies:
- Sourcing renewable electricity in their operations through a combination of renewable energy credits (RECs) and a virtual Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) in North America
- Engaging with their manufacturing partners for energy efficiency and renewable energy progress
- Sourcing more sustainable raw materials and fibers, including recycled and renewable content polyester and nylon, and
- Reducing carbon emission in their inbound logistics
Along with their renewable energy goals, their packaging and waste progress can also be found on their website under Sustainability/Our Footprint/Packaging & Waste.
Call to Action: While the large corporations are completing their part in finding sustainable methods of operations, we can also do our part. No matter how large or small. Something is better than nothing. You are powerful enough.
Tip: When going on shopping trips, bring a few reusable bags, so you can avoid using plastic/paper bags provided by stores. For produce, there are reusable mesh produce bags sold online.
A Clean Slate
Enough said about the huge corporations, there are some smaller companies that have built their brand around sustainability and the environment. Some more well-known brands include, tentree and 4Ocean.
From an article published by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), Craig Ryan, the Director of CSR at BDC states, “A lot of people and businesses are acting not just as buyers, but also as citizens who care about the world they’re creating and living in. What tentree has done is tap into that current.”
Tentree curates their product line by using sustainable materials such as Tencel – a material sourced from wood pulp, hemp, recycled polyester, and organic cotton. Apart from this, Tentree’s main mission revolves around dedicating and priding themselves in planting 10 trees per item sold to offset carbon emissions; it’s to compensate for emissions made around the world. So far, they’ve managed to plant over 40 million trees and have set themselves up for 1 billion trees by 2030.
4Ocean, a brand with a similar mentality dedicates themselves to pulling one pound of trash from our oceans per one bracelet purchased. Since 2017, they’ve managed to extract over 8.5 million pounds of trash from Bali, Florida, Haiti, and Guatemala. Not only have these deployments of clean ups helped clean our planet, but they’ve also created jobs, improved living conditions and new opportunities.
They say that putting money back into our economy will boost our spending and in turn increase our overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but the same attitude could be used for our environment. Cleaning up our planet and providing more sustainable methods of operations will also provide positive feedback and results to our economy and way of life. CSR has been a growing trend with business practices that incorporate sustainable development into business’ daily operations, and with more and more innovative technologies and methods advancing our way of life, let’s hope the same efforts can be put in place for corporate initiatives towards the environment.
Although there have only been a handful of companies’ CSR initiatives mentioned in this post, there are many more and they all practice conducting small consistent actions towards creating an impact that can be felt by masses. Take a chance. Create large impact with #smallconsistentactions.