Running An Easy Sustainability Audit for Your Business

Submitted by Mary Meade on May 7, 2020
Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

Is your business starting to consider sustainability in your practices? Do you want to appeal to the ever-growing mass of conscious consumers? With over 30 years of experience, the Green Business Network knows what it takes to be a truly green business.

Getting Started

Green businesses are driven by a mission to make the world a better place. They tie together profitability, social responsibility, and environmental sustainability in their business practices. This includes everything from worker safety, clean ingredients, to their water and carbon footprints. Green businesses challenge the status quo by modeling new practices in supply chain management, community development, and even customer service. 

The first thing you need to do to begin the process of becoming a green business is to analyze your current practices.

Running a Sustainability Audit

Every industry has different metrics for social and environmental responsibility. A paint company will need to consider the health risk of minerals in their formula, while a honey company will need to focus on the welfare of their bees. Your business will have tailored needs, as well.

Regardless of your industry, you can start your green business journey by answering these basic questions. It’s okay if you don’t have answers for every single one just yet. As your sustainability practices develop, you can answer these again and see how much you’ve grown. These questions are general to help you get started.

Social Justice

  • What is your social mission or purpose? What impact do you want your business to create for your community?
  • How does your business meet the needs of its workers and ensure they are treated well?
  • If you employ workers overseas, how are you ensuring livable wages, safety, and health in the workplace?
  • How does your workplace promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace and throughout the supply chain?
  • How does your company positively impact the community?
  • In what ways can you improve transparency in your supply chain?

Sustainability

  • Does your business have the infrastructure, capacity, and governance to maintain a comprehensive sustainability program? If not, how can you build one?
  • Consider your supply chain. What is your business doing to minimize waste during the production of your product(s)?
  • Consider the life cycle of your products. How are you minimizing the footprint of your product—do you have a take-back program, a recycling partner, or something else?
  • How are you minimizing the impact of your office, production, and/or service facility?

Keep in mind, these questions do not replace comprehensive standards. As your business improves on its social and environmental commitments, you can dive into even greener standards specific to your industry. The Green Business Network’s How to Be a Sustainable Business series is a good place to start—no matter what your industry, there is a place for your business with us.

Growing Your Green Business

Becoming a socially and environmentally responsible business is an ongoing process. As your business evolves and grows, you will adopt new practices. Creating an internal sustainability committee to maintain your efforts can help ensure your company does not get off track during growth.

You can seek external verification for your efforts, too. An example of this is a certification from a trusted, independent third party. Certifications also have the bonus of being recognizable to consumers, helping you reach new markets. Conscious consumers are more likely to be loyal to your brand when your business aligns with their values, too.

Mission-driven businesses are leaders in the ever-growing green economy. Your business can tap into this market by starting your green business journey. Demonstrating a strong and sincere commitment to social and environmental responsibility is good for both people, the planet, and the legacy of your business.

Explore more rigorous social and environmental standards for business in the How to Be a Sustainable Business series here and learn about becoming a certified Green Business Network member here.

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