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5 key ways companies can start tackling climate change

Intimidated by the challenge of reducing your impact on the climate? Here's how to get a foot in the door.

Last week, the Climate Collaborative hosted an introductory webinar on how companies can begin addressing climate change. We were lucky to have Pure Strategies’ Managing Director, Tim Greiner and Happy Family Organics’ Sustainability Director, Katie Clark join us to share their insights on why climate action matters within companies and their expert advice on how companies can create a strategic approach to climate action and which tactics can set them up for success.

Although we recommend watching the webinar in full here, we also wanted to share these five key learnings:

1. Just do something, whatever it is 

This is perhaps the most salient point both Tim and Katie made. If you aren’t doing anything to tackle emissions in your company, begin by taking any immediate step you can to address the climate elephant in the room. This could be changing the where you source your energy, right-sizing your packaging, doing a food waste audit, or something else that makes more sense for your company. As Tim pointed out, “Your customers already think you’re doing this.” By getting started right now, you’ll be able to build a baseline climate approach and begin to catch up.

Our nine climate action commitment areas offer a range of ideas for ways you can begin to shrink your carbon footprint, and we love hearing from companies that have used their commitment as a tool to guide and inform their internal climate priorities.

2. Put out the fires, then start to look at the weather patterns

This was Katie Clark’s metaphor for Happy Family’s path, which began by tackling low-hanging opportunities in packaging, office spaces and a few other areas that aligned with their mission and over time evolved into a well-thought-out, longer-term strategy through informed by conducting a full greenhouse gas inventory and materiality assessment.

Tim shared the insight that most companies’ emissions are heavily concentrated in their supply chains, but it’s often easier to look at your own operations first. Creating climate goals around renewable energy, energy efficiency, and transportation footprint can be a great place to start and resources like the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & EfficiencyRenewable Energy Buyers’ Alliance and the EPA SmartWay program are helpful tools in these areas.

3. Don’t let perfectionism get in the way of making progress

Set goals and then use them as an internal tool to spur the process of figuring out how you can achieve them. It’s okay to not know exactly how you’ll reach the goals when you set them but making your goals public sends a powerful and positive message to consumers, suppliers and your employees that you’re committed to reducing your footprint.

4. Get help and work with others

For small- and medium-sized companies with limited or no sustainability staff, non-profit, government, and intra-industry collaboration can be a lifeline. We hope you’ll use the Climate Collaborative to connect with and learn from your peers within the industry. Our project partners, OSC2 and SFTA provide access to tailored, more in-depth support, and we have a suite of resources and partners aimed at providing effective tools for companies in implementing their goals.

You can also talk to your local utility about an energy assessment, work with local universities and other partners to get free support to help you get started. It’s also helpful to talk about the work across teams within your company to begin building buy-in, and we suggest that you think about how you can build marketing components into setting project priorities in order to tell your story to consumers and enhance the project’s value.

5. Tie climate action to your mission 

Happy Family Organics’ mission is to change the trajectory of children’s health through nutrition, including all of the factors that affect children’s health: “the food they and their mothers eat, the community they live in, and the planet that this community lives on.” Framing their commitment to climate action this way helps provide a clear and compelling message for customers and potential customers.

Source: The Climate Collaborative

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