Note: This post was submitted to Student Caffé by Sam Casteris. Sam Casteris is an avid traveler, a lifelong lover of education, and a strong proponent of financial literacy. She is a regular contributor to Transfer Ways and Fresh U, where she writes tips for students and student transfers. Follow along with her work here. We would like to thank her for her submission and credit her as the author of this blog post.
As a student taking courses on sustainable business and corporate practices, I now have a new perspective on the way I live my life and its impact on the planet. Through my studies, I have learned about new trends in climate change, technology, and the economy that are all reshaping how businesses conduct themselves. And, in turn, I wish to also become more environmentally-friendly by decreasing my carbon footprint and waste. After all, if a company with thousands of employees and resources can do it, I can too.
The world today is largely urban, modernized, and based on consumerism—which requires a high demand for natural resources. This leads to a greater need for sustainable practices by businesses, families, and individuals alike, not only to keep up with the increasing demands but also to preserve the one planet we have. Goals of sustainable practices include decreasing pollution and other environmental factors that can harm people’s health and livelihoods, promoting economic growth and jobs, creating better standards of education and healthcare, and ending poverty and world hunger.
That’s a lot of goals… which is why more than 90% of CEOs claim that sustainability is important to their company’s success and include strategies to meet and exceed these goals. Businesses have even created new job positions such as “chief sustainability officers” who oversee and publish sustainability reports for public and private transparency. And these decisions are not just a trend–surveys show that 88% of business school students (myself included) think that they should prioritize learning about social and environmental issues in business. Here are a few examples of companies paving the way for the future of our planet’s health, and inspiring others to follow suit.
Zero Waste Recycling Businesses
Zero waste is almost impossible—keyword: “almost.” But many companies have developed programs and policies for materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill. The U.S. government relies on local and state governments to manage recycling and waste management laws, and so there are numerous recycling associations across the country. According to Forbes, the top two solid waste service companies are Waste Management, Inc. and Republic Services, Inc. Both use advanced technologies to recycle metals, cardboard, glass, plastics, and more. Learning about what someone can and cannot recycle has changed my buying habits, as I will not purchase goods in packaging that cannot be reused and/or recycled.
DAR PRO Solutions
DAR PRO Solutions is a premier example of how big businesses can practice sustainability. They create safe collection systems that repurpose cooking oil and meat byproducts into renewable fuels; animal feed ingredients; and other industrial and household resources such as soaps, solvents, paints, plastics, and more. Their customers include international restaurant and supermarket chains, hotels, theme parks, college campuses (hey!), and still others. For over a century, DAR PRO has helped the world become a little greener by keeping their own operations efficient and enabling their customers to do the same. One way I have adopted this oil-saving practice into my own life is by reusing the oil I use to cook. It’s a simple process: simply cool the oil after you’re done cooking, strain it through a cheesecloth, and store it in a clean container. It’s there for future cooking use (and more yummy fried foods).
Cars largely contribute to our country’s carbon footprint. They use a lot of energy, even before someone drives one on the road. Automotive production requires large quantities of materials like rubber, glass, steel, plastics, and many others to create a vehicle, which will then consume fossil fuels and other energy sources. Luckily, companies like Subaru have taken huge steps to ensure they are resourceful. Nearly 96% of their vehicles can be recycled or reused. They also haven't sent any waste to local landfills in over 12 years—now that’s what I call #Goals. Their efforts have inspired me to eliminate waste and also to keep in mind how purchasing a car is not only a huge financial responsibility, but also an environmental one. I will remember this when buying my own car and talking to my friends when they choose to also make this decision.
Ultimately, systemic changes are required before we’ll see any movement on the environmental front. To ensure our planet remains a safe place to live for people across the globe, policy changes are necessary. For me, integrating my learning into my daily life has helped me keep those thoughts at the forefront to remind myself that now is not the time to stop fighting for change.