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Steps Small Businesses Can Take to Combat Climate Change

Steps Small Businesses Can Take to Combat Climate Change

Emilie Kurth

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The science is clear, and when we look outside and see smoke-ridden skies, experience unprecedented flooding, or suffer the consequences of historic droughts, it’s in our face: climate change is here. Our climate and environment are changing–and how we interact with it should change.

As the recent and somewhat terrifying UN Report informed us, we are well past the point of stopping climate change. But we can slow it down. And we need to slow it down.

According to the UN Report, we need to halve greenhouse emissions by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions no later than 2050 to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

How can small businesses help achieve these goals?

Much climate news has focused on the emissions and energy outputs of large, international corporations. And for good reason: their business decisions are expansive and have a significant climate impact in many sectors of the economy, government, and environment. These industry titans must change their behavior if we want to achieve the UN’s goals, but small businesses should as well.

Small businesses make up the majority of businesses in the United States. Despite their diminutive qualifier, small businesses have a big impact. Both in how they affect the climate and how they shape the fabric of our society and economy. Thus, any changes small businesses can make to reduce their carbon footprints are essential to meeting the UN’s goals.

Studies have shown that such climate action is also desirable to potential employees, who are increasingly drawn to employers with environmental initiatives. There are also branding benefits for certificates and labels associated with businesses that meet certain environmental standards that may draw in environmentally conscious consumers and/or clients.

Steps for small businesses to combat climate change.

1. Set Goals

Some goals may include reducing the company’s energy consumption or greenhouse gas emissions. But most of us don’t have the expertise to meaningfully and quantifiably reduce our carbon footprint. Luckily, there are certification standards and organizations that help. For example, you can join the SME Climate Hub, sponsored by the UN which teamed up with Oxford University to create a library of tools and resources for small and medium enterprises for how to reduce their carbon footprints. These resources include but are not limited to: tools from the B Lab, Landlord-Tenant energy agreements, supply chain tools, guidebooks on reducing the environmental impact of freight logistics, company transportation toolkits, and many more.

The Climate Neutral Certified stamp is another popular certification that you can put on your business’ brand and marketing materials. This certification measures and directly addresses a brand’s commitment to stopping climate change. Some businesses that are Climate Neutral Certified include REI, Allbirds, Numi Tea, and Klean Canteen. The certification imposes a fee for every ton of carbon produced by the company, but that fee is used to invest in carbon reduction and sequestration projects around the globe and accomplishes carbon pricing.

Finally, if a business’ goal is to partner with environmental nonprofits, 1% For the Planet is an organization that pairs businesses, individuals, and nonprofits and commits 1% of the committed business’ profits to environmental nonprofits and organizations. Milgrom & Daskam is a proud 1% member.

2. Measure your climate impact

In addition to setting goals and potentially joining organizations and initiatives that direct small business leaders, it’s important for small businesses to measure their climate impacts. There are plenty of climate calculators for businesses to measure the impact of their brands, products, and services. These calculators take into account business’ energy consumption, emissions, and overall carbon footprints, and can be useful resources for informing businesses about how they can best reduce their environmental impacts.

3. Offset your emissions

Carbon offset programs are not perfect, but they have been found to be a powerful decarbonization tool. Furthermore, they provide small businesses opportunities for creativity. For example, companies can engage in tree-planting days to offset their carbon emissions. Companies can also purchase carbon credits that offset their emissions, which on average equal ~0.4% of a company’s revenue.

Some other ideas for business owners include encouraging employees to work from home to reduce commute-based emissions, incentivizing and paying for employees to use public transit and other climate-friendly travel options when commuting to work, reducing emissions produced by your business’ online activity and energy demands, using more sustainable packaging, or switching to natural resource energy for your business.

In conclusion, although climate change is daunting, all hope is not lost, and we as individuals, businesses, and communities can make meaningful changes to actualize the UN’s 2030 and 2050 goals to preserve our planet and everything it offers us.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ASSOCIATE

Emilie specializes in counseling clients on how to develop, protect, manage, and monetize their intellectual property. She represents individuals and businesses of all sizes whose industries span a wide range of subjects—from tech and software to fashion and food.

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Steps Small Businesses Can Take to Combat Climate Change

The science is clear, and when we look outside and see smoke-ridden skies, experience unprecedented flooding, or suffer the consequences of historic droughts, it’s in our face: climate change is here. Our climate and environment are changing–and how we interact with it should change.

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B Corp

What are Certified B Corporations and Why They Matter

What are Certified B Corporations and Why They Matter

Chris Mendenhall

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Some people think that capitalism is what’s wrong with our world. According to Wikipedia, “capitalism has been criticized for establishing power in the hands of a minority capitalist class that exists through the exploitation of a working-class majority; for prioritizing profit over social good, national resources and the environment; and for being an engine of inequality and economic instabilities.” While that’s not true for every business, for most companies, whether they are scraping by or striking it rich, the focus is on the business itself.

Nonprofits, on the other hand, are supposed to be the alternative structure for organizations that care more about the collective, public, or social benefits. The model was designed to be responsible, honorable, and transparent, but there is controversy about its efficiency and accountability.  Resources are not always managed as well as they could be, and efficacy suffers. Nobody goes into nonprofit work to become wealthy, but the trade-off is that they go home at the end of the day with the impression that they’re making a difference in the world.    

Does there have to be a trade-off? Can a business do good in the world and still make a decent profit? There are big, wildly profitable businesses whose mission is to provide life-saving drugs or medical equipment, for example, but what do we know of their inner workings? How do they treat their employees? What is their environmental footprint? For-profit companies’ lack of transparency means there is no way to know. This leads us to the question: what if a for-profit company could be held to high standards of accountability, transparency, and verified social and environmental performance? 

This is where Certified B Corporations enter the picture. B Corps are organizations all across the globe that have committed to balancing purpose and profit. They are required to care about more than their bottom line. They form a powerful community of like-minded people and companies driven to use their business as a force for good. There is no shame in making a profit if there are no values sacrificed to get there.    

The process of becoming B Corp certified is rigorous, as it should be. Organizations must verify that their companies meet high standards in the areas of governance, workers, community, environment, and customers. There is a very extensive evaluation that dives deeply into how companies measure up in each of these areas. There is paperwork to submit to substantiate your statements. There are follow-up questions from a team of individuals whose job is to make sure companies are not fudging their numbers or claims. There is a live interview with a certification team to further confirm that your company makes the grade. Then, once certified, there is a recertification process every three years in which companies must prove that they are not only living up to what they claimed but are encouraged to do better than they were before, and the evaluation questions change and evolve as the standards are further scrutinized in light of new global concerns.    

What is even more beautiful about certified B Corps is the community they create. There is a global “B Hive” of articles, resources, opportunities, and ways to connect with other values-driven organizations. There are independent “B Local” groups all over the country comprised of certified B Corporations that meet to discuss issues, network, educate, support, engage, and inspire. There might be community service events, webinars on global issues like climate concerns, and opportunities for learning about other companies, vendors, and professionals that care about their global communities as much as you do.

Personally, it gives me great pride to work for a law firm that chose to jump through the B Corp certification hoops and to live up to those lofty standards. As Milgrom & Daskam’s Legal Administrator, I look to the B Corp member directory first when choosing a vendor for everything from a financial advisory firm to handle our employee retirement accounts (Thanks, BSW Wealth Partners!) to a bakery to provide cupcakes for a firm birthday event. We know what they went through to get on that directory, and we know they share our values in providing their goods and services. There is something satisfying in knowing that we’re doing good work within a community of good people. Let’s do what’s right for our world!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

LEGAL ADMINSTRATOR

Chris’s life has meandered far from her degrees in sociology and elementary education from the University of Colorado but has now come full circle with the many years she put in as an administrator in the legal field.  After being a stay-at-home mom for 10 years and many subsequent years volunteering and working within the Boulder Valley School District, Chris operated a successful freelance office services business for a variety of clients, including Milgrom & Daskam.  Chris is happy to have now joined Milgrom & Daskam officially as the firm’s Legal Administrator.

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