Just Good Business: Actions Small Businesses Can Take to Help Save the Oceans
Author: Ginger Reid, Our Precious Resources
Sometimes lost amid the debate over global warming is the fact that the world’s oceans are in a state of crisis. Decades of industrial pollution, islands of floating refuse, and the overexploitation of many fish stocks (nearly 90 percent have been fully or nearly exhausted) have devastated the ocean’s ecological balance. Given the interrelationship between the sea and land, that’s bad news for the planet and for everyone who lives on it. The Environmental Protection Agency is working to alleviate the damage that has been done but needs everyone’s help.
Fish account for roughly 14 percent of our protein consumption, and fish provide the primary source of protein for more than a billion people. In the United States, one out of six jobs depends on the oceans, and the country’s ocean-based economy accounts for more than $200 billion each year. Tremendous, even catastrophic damage has been done, but there’s still time to save the oceans. And there are many positive changes that businesses can make to improve the situation. Some of them can be rather expensive but are definitely worth the cost.
Reduce your carbon footprint
Reducing your dependence on oil and gas and your overall energy use can have a significant environmental impact. Consider switching to hybrid vehicles or ones that run solely on electricity. Find ways to reduce your need to rely on vehicles that guzzle gas -- use delivery services or the mail where possible rather than dispatching a car or truck for simple errands. Become more efficient with your on-site lighting by switching to compact fluorescent light bulbs, reduce your use of plastic and styrofoam products, and lower the thermostat in the office, encouraging employees to dress warmly (use fans in warm weather to avoid overusing air conditioning).
Consider taking out a business loan to help cover any substantial financial changes you choose to make. SBA, business term. or line of credit loans present manageable options that can make it easier to be a good corporate citizen without doing financial damage. Do your research; some loans may be specifically geared toward supporting environmental activism.
Support ocean-friendly organizations
There are many organizations and institutions working to save the ocean’s marine habitats and wildlife from extinction. Consider donating to an organization that appeals to you, or ask your employees to vote for the one they’d most like the company to support financially. If your company is near the ocean, ask for volunteers to help clean up beaches or take part in efforts to collect plastic that accumulates on the surface and threatens
countless species of fish and waterfowl. It’s an environmentally responsible act, and there may be tax breaks available to your company.
Work for change
The only way to ensure lasting, sustainable change is to achieve it in our communities and at the government level. Give your company’s support to politicians who support marine conservation initiatives, and offer volunteer as well as financial support. Research grocery
chains and local restaurants that provide sustainable seafood and point out establishments serving threatened marine species -- they may not even be aware of it, so you’ll be doing them a favor as well as making a positive environmental impact.
Educate your staff
Provide employees with information about how to act responsibly not just in terms of purchasing or political behavior, but so they understand how they can help safeguard the oceans when on vacation or enjoying it for recreational purposes. That includes how to act responsibly when boating, kayaking, or enjoying other recreational activities. Be aware that acting conscientiously begins with education and understanding the nature and severity of the threat our oceans currently face.
The future of earth’s oceans, and the future of the planet itself, depends on the choices each of us makes. Taking an active hand in preserving the environment is about more than tax credits and good public relations. It’s deciding to preserve a future for the generations who come after us, those who must live with the consequences of the actions we take, or don’t take.