In the past year, the focus for many was simply to get through the days, weeks, and months of a global pandemic; understandably, most other concerns took a back seat. One crisis, however, continued to grow with little mention – the battle against time to save our planet.
While previously, people may have felt more comfortable drinking water from a sealed bottle due to the pandemic, it is time to remind them that it is possible to have clean filtered and purified drinking water available from a dispenser that is safe to drink. In fact, doctors recently confirmed to the public that reusable bottles and cups can be used again as a way to combat the climate crisis and do not increase the risk of transmission of COVID-19 if washed properly.
In addition to this, the choice to move towards a more sustainable and safe method of hydration relates to the increase in eco-friendly methods that employees and consumers want to see going forward. After all, 72% of employees reported that they expect more from their employer in terms of sustainable practices and outside of the workplace, consumers are also making it known that they are looking to be more sustainable. In a recent study, 50% of respondentssaid that they only buy products from brands that try to be eco-friendly.
We are also seeing upcoming legislation changes around the world that are set to tighten rules around the amount of waste being produced in an attempt to prevent further damage to the planet. For example, in France, plastic cups and similar were banned in January 2020due to the fact they represented 5kgs of waste per resident per year.
This will not only change workplace culture, but cause a shift in all areas of business, including manufacturing and supply chains. Sustainability is more than just a buzzword; as we approach returning to some kind of normality in the coming months, the pressing global issue of non-recyclable waste is one that should be at the centre of the conversation again. After all, this crisis is not one that will wait. Research suggests that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. As well as having a devastating impact on wildlife, this also has ramifications for humans and the natural world. While efforts are being made to reduce the use of single-use plastics and the like, both businesses and individuals need to step up their response now.
Businesses are in a position to make great change and the demand has already been seen internationally; for example, in Japan, two-thirds of citizens want to see a new international treaty aimed at tackling plastic pollution. Meanwhile, an initiative in Sweden pays citizens to recycle, whilst more than half of the countries in Africa have begun banning single-use plastic bags on a national level. Changes like these are becoming more common, meaning that businesses may in fact be forced to be more sustainable sooner rather than later.
That said, companies can take it upon themselves to be a part of the change without government direction. One such example is Goldman Sachs, which has taken great strides to ensure it is a force for good. The firm previously committed to removing 85% of plastic consumed by the end of 2019 and is on track to remove 100% of plastic bottles and disposables by 2025 by providing plumbed-in water dispensers and reusable bottles. Similarly, in the hospitality industry, establishments such as Kimpton Clocktower Hotel have also been making an effort to reduce their plastic consumption by using mains fed dispensers – showing guests and clients that they are doing their bit to fight climate change.
These are small, but powerful ways to help the planet and take steps away from single-use products – and all organisations must follow suit, working together to create a greener future. In addition to this, businesses will also see the financial benefits as they are often rewarded by investors and customers for signing up to clear Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) goals.