Today’s practice of Corporate Social Responsibility is seen as a practice that is only practice by the worlds largest corporations. However there are some great examples of small businesses throughout the World practicing the principle of CSR in a very real, practical way.
Stonyfield Yogurt Sustainable Manufacturing
The Stonyfield yogurt company decades ago developed out of an organic farm school promoting healthy food, a clean environment and family farms. Milk from the cows was used by the owners for funding their work in order to make fertilizer-free, pesticide-free yogurt. This product was a huge success and became the main focus of the business, which currently purchases ingredient from hundred of different organic farms and is operated on the basis of environmentally friendly principles.
Although Stonyfield does have a unique story, it does demonstrate that it is possible for small businesses to embrace corporate social responsibility and sustainability – practices which support fair working conditions, the environment and other kinds of beneficial social conditions for the individuals and communities that they come into contact with – while strengthening and growing the bottom line at the same time.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization states that the management concept of “corporate social responsibility” refers to when environmental and social concerns are integrated by companies into their business operations as well as the interactions they have with their stakeholders.
Becoming Green as a Small Business
A North Carolina-based program for helping medium and small business become more sustainable and greener called Green Plus, states that it works on the basis of a triple bottom line philosophy of sustainability, which means they help to improve the bottom line of a business by focusing on its business, social and environmental practices, which they refer to as the performance, people and planet aspects of a business.
Green Plus as well as other government agencies and organizations refer to a number of different companies that have made the conscious decision and taken the appropriate action towards becoming more sustainable. (There is links provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration regarding some of the businesses.)
One of the companies certified by Green Plus is Food FWD which is a food waste diversion startup based in Durham, NC. The company goes to restaurants and collects food waste and then brings it to a local area compster. Green Plus notes that compostable serviceware is also sold by Food FWD.
On the company’s values and mission pages is states that it only adopts a policy, product or service if it adds value to the planet, people and profits. It adds that sacrifices will not be made to the environment, employment, customer relationships or service for the purposes of earning an extra profit.
St. Paul, Minnesota-based Bix Produce, sells to universities, hotels and restaurants. According to Green Plus, the increasing need of customers for sustainably raised and locally grown food made it important to Bix to do what it could to meet customers needs, and ensuring that its business served its employees as well through providing them with a really good place to work.
Bix belongs to a national network made up of independent local distributors that help with promoting an initiative called Greener Fields Together. A “seed-to-fork approach” is taken to bring sustainable and safe produce in ways that are environmentally friendly to ballparks, hospitals, grocers, restaurants and other types of businesses.
Ethically Sourcing Raw Ingredients
Kosmea is a natural skincare product company based in Adelaide SA. When Kosmea decided to start sourcing their own rose hip oil for their skin care range they decided to look at more than just affordability and ingredient quality. They also wanted the rosehips to be ethically sourced.
After extensive research,Kosmea emplyed the local people of Ledotho in Southern Africa to hand pick wild rosehips in a sustainable way. The company gets the benefit of a truely organic rose hip oil, and the people of Lesotho are provided with a sustainable income.
Tips for Moving Your Business in the Right Direction
Utilize energy-efficient technology, such as Energy-star qualified cooling and heating systems, building products and appliances for cutting air pollution out of power plants. Consider making use of “green power” – electricity coming from renewable resources like wind energy, geothermal and solar. Drive a fuel efficient car.
Cut down your paper usage by recycling paper, using double-sided copying and electronically distributing documents. Conserve water through installing water-efficient appliances, utilizing faucets that automatically turn off and fixing leaky plumbing, among other measures.
Even if your company’s origin story doesn’t involve sustainability, your small business has the ability to benefit from and embrace socially conscious and environmentally friendly practices.