By A.J. van de Ven
We have reached a critical point in the fight to reduce the impact of climate change.
Our actions now and over the coming decade will have serious long-term implications for the health of the planet. We also know that large companies play an outsized role in climate change-causing emissions.
However, businesses of all sizes can make a big difference.
This seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? If more than 70% of global emissions can be traced back to 100 or so large companies, what difference can smaller companies make? Consider the following.
Now more than ever before, we expect flexibility in our working life. We change jobs and roles when we need to, charting our own employment path.
That flexible working model has only become more prevalent because of COVID-19.
Now we know that many businesses survive — even thrive — when employees can work from home, or divide their time between home and office, or job share, for a better work-life balance.
Today, we can go from working for a small business to a major corporation and back again with minimal fuss or hassle.
What does this have to do with climate change?
When people move from one role to another with relative ease, they take with them their own attitudes and expectations around green business practices.
The more employees expect that their employer will be green certified and working to reduce their environmental impact, the greater the pressure on that business to live up to those expectations.
Naturally, we want our workforce to be with us for the long haul. But we need to be realists. People change careers. They advance and develop. Their personal circumstances change; they have kids, they move away, etc.
With unemployment at current record low levels, jobseekers are more able than ever to follow their passions and apply only for positions they feel give them purpose and fulfilment.
And what’s more fulfilling than saving the planet?
So green certification can be a powerful driver for change: by fostering an expectation that employers will work sustainably and promote environmentally friendly policies.
In April 2022 — Earth Month — my company, Calsense, received its certification from the California Green Business Network. We worked in close collaboration with the City of Carlsbad’s Green Business Program.
We identified a group of employees who were passionate about making real operational changes within the business, including moving to sustainable shipping practices, introducing training on optimal recycling, and further conserving energy and water throughout our office and production processes.
The result for us has been an evolution in the way we work. Perhaps even more importantly, our staff, current and future, will get used to working in a green certified environment.
And when they move on — reluctantly, I hope — they will take that expectation with them, driving change from within for their new employers, big and small.
If you own, run or work for a small or medium-sized business, take the lead on green certification, and help establish a path to a healthier environment for us all.
A.J. van de Ven is president of Carlsbad-based smart irrigation company Calsense and a board member of the nonprofit EcoLife Conservation.