In today’s world, companies need to operate in a more sustainable manner. First and foremost, this is necessary to save the Earth’s precious environment, one that is suffering greatly due to climate change. However, companies also need to become more sustainable because that’s what consumers and investors want to see.
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Consumers want to live a sustainable lifestyle. They recycle, donate to causes, and shop ethically. This last means they want to be sure the companies they shop with are sustainable. In fact, 88% of consumers feel brands should help them live more sustainably. And they’re not alone.
Investors also want to know that companies are striving to become more sustainable. Specifically, they want to know how companies are implementing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) changes into their operations. The answer to the sustainability problem? Go carbon neutral.
Going carbon neutral: brand image and eco-sustainability
One of the best ways for any company to become more sustainable is to reduce their carbon footprint. Why? Because the cargo shipping industry is one of the biggest contributors to the emission of greenhouse gases. Cargo ships transport 90% of the goods bought and sold internationally and they contribute close to 3% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. That’s about equivalent to what Japan produces.
The primary focus of any company should be to reduce their carbon emissions as much as possible. However, with our reliance on fossil fuels, eliminating emissions 100% is not possible at this time. The answer is to become carbon neutral, which means to do something to remove as much CO2 from the atmosphere as you produce. Fortunately, that’s easy to do.
To neutralize your carbon emissions, you can get your carbon offset certification. This essentially means you will contribute financially to a program that either reduces carbon emissions through renewable energy and energy savings or a program that works to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
Of these, one of the most effective and tangible ways to contribute is by contributing to reforestation and tree planting projects. The Kyoto Protocol promotes this as an effective solution because trees are such efficient and effective CO2 absorbers. Here are some numbers:
- a young tree absorbs an average of 13 pounds of CO2 per year;
- a 10-year-old tree absorbs an average of 48 pounds of CO2 per year;
- one acre of new forest can remove 2.5 tons of CO2 per year;
- 100 million trees can remove 18 million tons of carbon per year.
For this reason, programs like Eco4Cargo, World Tree, and Carbonfund.org, which are geared specifically toward tree-planting and reforestation, are ideal when looking to neutralize your carbon footprint. Participating in a program like this will allow your company to calculate your annual carbon emissions, financially support planting the number of trees needed to remove the same amount of CO2 your company produced, and receive certification for your contribution.
Once you’ve done this, the average consumer is still not going to know about it – not unless you let them know. That means your marketing needs to go green, making sure you are getting the word out about your sustainability efforts. Fortunately, there is a great way to do that.
Eco-certifications as part of your brand image
When your company gets its carbon offset certification and become carbon neutral, how do you let people know? The sustainability report is a great way, particularly when it comes to investors. But the average consumer is not likely to read through a 100-page report on your efforts and results. For this reason, you could rely on a green storytelling regarding your eco-initiatives. Another option? Getting eco-certifications is the best way to go.
Eco-certifications allow you to include an eco-label on your products, your promotional materials, your website, and your social media presence. These are the front-facing aspects of your company and that means your eco-certifications will become part of your brand image. It also means that consumers will see your eco-certifications and they will take notice.
However, you want consumers to do more than simply take notice. It turns out 63% of consumers say they are more likely to try a product from a company with a good reputation, but they won’t continue buying the product if they don’t come to trust the company. Eco-certification is a way to gain that trust.
When you have your carbon offset certification, you can apply for eco-certification. A third-party will evaluate your sustainability claims and grant you certification under their eco-label. You can then put this label out there for the world to see. Here are a few eco-labels you can consider when you go carbon neutral through offsets:
- CarbonFree® Certified
- Carbon Neutral Certification
- Green Seal
- European Union Ecolabel
- Blue Angel
- Nordic Swan Label
- Gold Standard
- SMaRT Consensus Sustainable Product Standards
Through these eco-certifications, there will be complete transparency into your sustainability efforts. This includes providing consumers valuable information about your supply chain and bringing all parts of the supply chain in line with sustainability practices.
The new way to brand
These days, branding isn’t simply about putting out a logo in some cool colors and attaching a jingle to it. It isn’t even simply about having a company mission to deliver value to customers. Companies now must integrate their sustainability efforts with their branding to ensure consumers know exactly what they are doing to make this world a better place.
For more information about sustainability branding, check out our eBook “Carbon Offset: Certification, Index, and Labels that Can Support Your Brand“.