Written by Elizabeth J. W. Spencer
Whether you have a seasoned business that wants to step up its game with a sustainability strategy or you have a company that is just starting out, it is never too late to make a commitment and implement a strategy for sustainability. Our strategy is based on 3 components: offsetting our carbon footprint, becoming BCorp Certified, and our commitment to giving back.
Start thinking about sustainability today
If your company is in an early-stage like ours, it might seem unnecessary to already have a sustainability strategy in place. We disagree— it is more efficient to start from day one on the sustainability track than to go back later and work sustainability into the fabric of a mature business. To give you an idea of what a sustainability commitment could look like, here is our commitment toward a more equitable planet:
Global Imprint is committed to reducing and mitigating all carbon emissions from its operations—while carbon neutrality is a material and significant commitment, we don’t stop there. We are committed to being an ESG+ (environmental, social and governance positive) company that supports projects creating sustainable, quantifiable and verifiable benefits that advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Regardless of where your company is on the growth trajectory, you can start today by thinking about how you can confidently make an ESG commitment, integrate that commitment into your operations, and measure its impact on your bottom line.
3 commitments to a more equitable, sustainable world
Here are some of the specifics of our sustainability strategy to give you an idea of similar commitments you might want to make on your way to meeting your ESG commitments:
- Reducing carbon emissions to the extent possible, then offsetting more than our footprint (to be climate positive).
- Becoming certified by BCorp.
- Giving back to charity through high impact projects incrementally each year.
1. Reducing carbon emissions
As a company we decided to not only offset our company’s carbon emissions, which are fairly insignificant, but also to offset those of every family that works for Global Imprint, since the inception of our company (last quarter of 2019). We bought 100 tons of offsets from the Zambezi REDD+ project of BioCarbon Partners (BCP) as well as 22 tons from this Darfur Clean Cookstove Project.
BCP is working to conserve forests and wildlife in Africa and has developed some of the highest quality forest carbon offsets from their conversation efforts. The REDD+ project (reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation) is specifically working to reduce deforestation—by creating financial value from the protection of forest—to ensure long term sustainability.
The Darfur Low Smoke Cookstoves Project is the first to register carbon credits in a conflict zone. This cookstove project uses a consumer finance scheme to make stoves affordable for local Sudanese, so that they can save time, money, and cook cleaner. Cleaner cooking not only cuts down on deforestation and emissions, but also on indoor air pollution, which contributes to numerous health problems. We also picked this cookstove project because it impacts four different SDGs: 1 No Poverty, 5 Gender Equality, 7 Affordable and Clean Energy, and 13 Climate Action.
You can offset your carbon footprint!
When buying offsets, it is important to buy offsets that are audited and verified by the highest standards. We picked the Zambezi REDD+ because we are passionate about wildlife conservation and forest protection, but also because this project is audited and verified by a third party against the Verified Carbon Standard, as well as the premier Climate, Community, and Biodiversity Standard, which is the highest forestry/land management standard. The Darfur Low Smoke Cookstoves Project is certified by the Gold Standard, which is largely considered the highest carbon standard, as it relates to co-benefits for communities.
2. Becoming certified by BCorp
We have committed to be a certified B Corp as soon as we are eligible. Being B Corp certified means that your company meets many of the high standards of ESG. B Corp is more than just a certification, it is a movement to redefine the bottom line of business, while helping to reduce global poverty and fight climate change. Some companies that you might recognize that are B Corp certified are Athleta, BeautyCounter, Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Kickstarter, Etsy, and Warby Parker. But B Corp certification isn’t just for established companies—start-ups can be certified once they have been a company for one year.
You can become B Corp certified!
Becoming B Corp certified isn’t an easy process but it is well worth the effort for your company, employees, customers that have shared values, and all your stakeholders, who will thank you. Having an overarching sustainability strategy is really helpful in navigating the B Corp certification process. There might be other certifications or sustainability standards that are more relevant to your business, depending on the type of business and what is most important to your stakeholders.
3. Giving back
We committed to giving back to charity through high impact projects. This year we established a strategic partnership with the NoManIs Foundation to support some of their partner organizations including Ayaaya Media, She’s The First, and Wine to Water that are valued aligned with Global Imprint. Ayaaya Media is working on a Covid-19 awareness campaign in Ethiopia. She’s The First is fighting for the education and future of girls around the world. Wine To Water is aggressively fighting to stop the spread of coronavirus in marginalized communities. We have committed to materially increasing our giving each year of operation to NoManIs and their partner organizations, as well as to finding and partnering with the best organizations that are creating a tangible impact across the world.
You can give back!
There are so many opportunities to give back that it can be hard to decide where to focus your resources. We decided to partner with organizations that focus their efforts internationally in development work because our business has global reach. For a business that has a mostly local reach, it would make sense to give back to the local community in some capacity. Regardless of location, it's important to give to an organization or foundation that is having an impact in an area that aligns with your company's values.
Coronavirus won’t last forever, but our actions during this time will. As a company, we are being more intentional as the world faces the unknown to give back to our community and planet as an integral part of our long term sustainability commitment. If your company needs help sourcing the right carbon offsets that align with your company’s purpose, evaluating the B Corp certification process, or navigating the world of ESG, our Global Imprint team can get you there.
About the Author
Elizabeth J Walter
With a varied career in international politics, social enterprises and a tech start-up, the common thread for Elizabeth over the past decade has been the pursuit of sustainable development in emerging markets. Writing has been the medium to synthesize her experiences in between changing diapers and kissing skinned knees. Elizabeth believes that power of purpose-driven businesses to deliver profitable products at the intersection of societal and environmental benefit can change the world. She lives in an ‘01 converted Blue Bird school bus with her husband, two kids and a Vizsla.