Environmental sustainability in business is critical as we strive to reduce global carbon emissions.

Eco-friendly, or ‘green’ behaviour, can also create an attractive space, generate higher job satisfaction, stronger employee engagement, and increased productivity. With organisations struggling to get workers back into offices after working from home for so long, offering a green workplace could be the incentive workers need to go back to the city.

Many organisations have announced initiatives to become more environmentally friendly by adopting greener, more sustainable working practices and focusing on implementing corporate social responsibility programs. In fact, a green wave is surging through the business world as businesses react to changing environmental circumstances, and affirm the priorities and values of many of their sustainability-minded millennial and Gen Z staff.

Consumers are concerned about being more environmentally and socially responsible and therefore, expect the businesses they buy from and work for to adhere to ethical standards, such as environmental protection and sustainable sourcing.

Be strategic

One way to ensure a business is focused on sustainability is to ensure it is led from a strategic point of view. Our recent 2022 – 2025 Strategy calls out specific sustainable actions, as follows:

  • Complete an audit of our carbon impact and implement an action plan to reduce our impact over the next two years.
  • Include the procurement of an upcycled and circular economy range across our categories, increasing the number of products sourced from sustainable resources.

Customers will form an attachment to a company that engages in ethical sourcing practices, and potential job applicants will likely size up a business’s environmental practices. Conscientious and social-media savvy younger people like to know that they work for a business that cares about sustainability, and they have become adept at discerning whether a business is virtue signalling and greenwashing rather than taking genuine action.

There are a number of incentives for businesses to transform their offices into green workspaces. Besides doing the right thing for future generations, going green in the office can provide companies with tangible bottom-line benefits. It can bring cost-savings through decreased utility bills and wastage.

Be practical

There are numerous practical steps: using recycled paper whenever possible, switching all lighting to LEDs, implementing a comprehensive recycling program, using no-VOC interior paints, installing motion-sensors for office lighting, using non-toxic cleaning products and introducing plants into an office space.

In a wider sense, businesses need to improve their ability to identify, measure and control the environmental impacts of their preferred suppliers and their products.

Ethical sourcing is a critical step for businesses to become more socially and environmentally responsible. An ethical sourcing strategy encourages cooperation and engagement in supply chains.

The paper industry relies on thriving forests to meet demand. Despite all the talk of a paperless society, global consumption of paper continues to grow. Although paper can be both biodegradable and easily recyclable, it can also be the product of deforestation or poor forestry practices if not sourced sustainably.

There are many ways of determining eco-friendly sourcing. Forest Stewardship Council certification, for example, supports responsible forest management worldwide. FSC certified forest products are verified from the forest of origin through the supply chain, ensuring the product is from responsibly harvested and verified sources.

It’s important to eliminate material that has been illegally harvested or traded in a way that drives violent armed conflict or threatens national or regional stability, especially if the related political or military regimes violate human rights.

An ethical sourcing framework can promote sustainability and minimise the environmental impacts of their operations and products. It’s also important to comply with all regulations and environmental standards, and communicate this approach to all stakeholders.

Encourage your suppliers to be green

Businesses should also seek to promote sustainability via their suppliers and distributors, by emphasising its importance in supplier agreements for products destined for distribution by their dealers.

Sustainability is about looking at the whole picture. Businesses should engage with their preferred suppliers, internal teams and dealers in a broad effort to promote sustainability and minimise adverse environmental impacts.

Lastly, businesses should consistently seek to improve chain-of-custody information and compliance through annual reviews, reports and actions in partnership with preferred suppliers.

Corporate social responsibility and sustainability are more than just buzzwords. Consumers and staff alike expect businesses to be part of the solution when it comes to environmental and social issues. For any business associated with productive forests and forest products, from the start of the supply chain to the paper stacked on an office desk, sustainable sourcing is a key element in making workspaces more eco-friendly – and attract the very best talent in the process.