Corporate investments in programs such as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) have become a progressive way in the business sector to align a company’s environmental and commercial operations to fulfil society’s broader needs. Businesses must look beyond financial restrictions and integrate the benefits of CSR to the environment and social considerations into their strategic management to strengthen their brand value, provide goods and services at fair rates, and urge people to use resources carefully.
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
India recognized the importance of CSR and was the first country to amend the Companies Act of 1956 to the Companies Act of 2013, in which Section 135 states that “Every company getting a net worth of rupees five hundred crores or more, or a turnover of rupees thousand crores or more, or a net profit of five crores or more, during any of the financial years, shall establish a Corporate Social Responsibility Committee of Board made up of three or more directors, out of whom one director shall be an independent director.”
It is a company’s shareholder’s and stakeholders’ commitment to society for a sustainable environment. Companies invested more in the well-being of the disadvantaged, which not only provided employment chances but also helped individuals learn new skills. The increase in corporate responsibility, business, and brand activities is now recognized by society, and individuals are more aware of the market and benefits of CSR to the environment. This improved brand recognition and shifted the industry’s attention to product quality and quantity.
CSR and Environmental Protection
The benefits of CSR to the environment are social uplift and environmental protection, as people’s daily activities produce pollution, which releases hazardous toxicants. Companies have embraced the legislation created by the parliament to contribute effectively to the broader benefit of society for the sake of a sustainable environment and the protection of people’s interests.
CSR Elements of Environmental Protection and Sustainability
CSR undertook certain significant environmental protection elements that are crucial among all actions. This section elaborates on many features to help readers comprehend the benefits of CSR to the environment.
1. Environmental Sustainability: It is concerned with preserving and protecting natural resources for future generations. Some of the worldwide environmental challenges are destroying water levels, non-discharge of toxic and chemical wastes, and a lack of clean energy supply. CSR has undertaken and promised to maintain the integrity of Mother Earth to offset the difficulties and harm done to the environment.
2. Ecological Balance: It is described as a term that retains the balance between the environment and living organisms; if an ecological flow is disturbed, issues such as population growth, contagious diseases, resource depletion, and lack of waste management threaten the environment. CSR activities and surveys encourage the flow of vital and optimal resource utilization.
3. Flora and Fauna Protection: Fauna refers to animal life, while flora refers to various plants, such as herbs and bushes, that are present and belong to a specific ecosystem. Deforestation, illegal trade, tiger poaching, loss of habitat, development of industries near forest reserves, toxic pollutants, and fumes polluting air in forests all result in the extinction of certain species and harm existing plant life. CSR identifies these issues and lists them to target specific areas and zones. The government has also proclaimed particular locations protected in numerous notices and ordinances and has taken strong measures against firms that break the restrictions.
4. Animal Welfare: Animals’ lives are equally vital in maintaining the ecosystem’s balance, so correct building of refuge houses, nourishment, and food, veterinarian products and services, safeguarding the necessities of homeless animals, strict measures against animal cruelty, immunization, and birth control practices can be broadly implemented.
5. Agroforestry: It is a cultivation practice of shrubs and trees and the integration of crops and livestock in an agricultural system that produces superior results with low-cost equipment. It employs technology that maximizes resource utilization and ensures the expanding need for agroforestry products such as fuel, lumber, fodder, fibre, and food. CSR actions are carried out to maintain environmental security further while ensuring the inflow of vital agricultural goods.
6. Maintenance of Soil, Water, and Air: Excessive use of natural resources and factors impacting water deterioration include untreated sewage, garbage disposal in lakes, rivers, and oceans harming aquatic life, pollution of soil by spraying fertilizers on produce, soil erosion, and natural calamities. Benefits of CSR to the environment can undertake various projects to boost ecosystem productivity through fostering R&D development, educating people and constructing reforms on industrial waste disposal, promoting dustbins in every locality, using eco-friendly bio-cultural produce in agricultural activity, rainwater harvesting, and building reservoirs such as ponds and tanks.
How Can Your CSR Strategy Benefit the Environment?
Consider the following points to determine how your CSR strategy can benefit the environment.
1. Plant a tree for each service or good sold via the “One Tree Planted” program
Small businesses can join forces with “One Tree Planted” to plant a tree for each product or service sold. The One Tree Planted is a non-profit that promotes reforestation. They grow trees worldwide and make it simple for anyone to contribute. A single tree costs only one dollar to plant!
2. Reduce the use of paper and plastic
Did you know the average office worker produces approximately 2 pounds of garbage daily? Fortunately, modern technologies can assist us in wasting less. The following are CSR waste reduction initiatives.
- Print on Recycled Paper: Using recycled printer paper reduces your carbon footprint immediately. It has the appearance and feel of regular printer paper. It is, however, created from recycled food and beverage containers.
- Print on Both Sides: Check that your computer and printer are set to print double-sided. Printing double-sided, according to the EPA, can cut paper waste by 10 to 40%.
- Implement Printing With a Follow-Me System: Follow-me printing, also known as “pull printing,” routes each print job to a server and prints the documents when the user scans a badge or enters an access code at the printer. Instead of printing automatically, the user must request the copies at the printer.
- Take Out all Paper Cups and Plastic Water Bottles: Finally, eliminate paper cups and plastic water bottles in your workplace. Rather than becoming thirsty, employees and consumers will bring mugs, thermoses, and water bottles.
3. Reduce your reliance on electricity
- Make Use of Natural Lighting: If your workplace or warehouse has windows, make the most of natural light. You can avoid turning on light bulbs by leaving curtains, shades, and blinds open during the day.
- Install Energy-Saving Lighting: Install energy-saving lights that switch off automatically when no one is in the room. Alternatively, replace your existing lightbulbs with low-cost LED lightbulbs.
- Smart plugs Can Turn off Electronics Automatically: You may also buy smart plugs that switch off electronics automatically. Smart plugs automatically switch off electrical devices and appliances using a timer or an app on your phone.
4. Reduce water consumption
Water conservation saves resources and benefits the environment. Begin by making minor adjustments to your faucets and toilet facilities.
- Utilise Faucet Sensors: Installing sensors on your faucets, for example, can automatically switch off the water when someone moves their hands away, resulting in up to 70% water savings!
5. Reduce the use of fossil fuels
- Hold Virtual Meetings: Avoid unnecessary business travel by having virtual meetings or conversations when possible. Face-to-face interaction is beneficial. However, it is sometimes more accessible, less expensive, and better for the environment to meet electronically via Zoom or Skype rather than travel or drive to a meeting.
- Walk or Ride a Bike: Try walking or riding a bike for short excursions. The less you drive, the less you need fossil fuels. Electric bicycles or scooters might also be helpful.
- Use Public Transport: Use public transit on your daily commute or for out-of-town visits. Although travelling by rail or bus uses fossil fuels, it uses less than driving each person separately.
- Utilise Solar Panels: Using solar panels at home or in your business is an excellent way to go green and reduce environmental effects. They are also ideal for road trips, camping, or simply charging your phone or laptop! Compact, foldable solar panels are available for purchase and usage at home or outdoors. They include solar-powered generators that store electricity and allow you to plug in your laptop, cell phone, refrigerator, or other electronics to save money while using clean energy.
- Set Your Thermostat: Raising your thermostat 2 degrees in the summer and lowering it 2 degrees in the winter may conserve up to 2,000 pounds of CO2 yearly! Alternatively, you might use an energy-saving thermostat that saves energy.
6. Purchase carbon offsets to promote clean energy
Most people associate sustainable energy with solar panels and wind turbines. However, certain company executives need more room and resources to use them. Businesses can buy carbon offsets to lessen their carbon footprint!
The dynamic environment fosters new cultures embraced by industries, governments, state organizations, and municipalities. Industries have shifted to charity, becoming more sensitive to society and working for the welfare of society and the environment. CSR is the best policy implemented by both large and small firms because it benefits everyone. The growing recognition and development of guidelines for economic stability and sustainable development have proven the benefits of CSR to the environment, which has helped the country.
The environment is gradually deteriorating due to technological and demographic pressures; that’s why corporate responsibility enters into play and restricts people’s activities while encouraging eco-friendly practices that people must embrace. Guidelines created by government authorities primarily influence firms’ environmental programs. Because CSR is a relatively young profession, business ethics, environmental management, and community development are all important.
Q1. What is the significance of CSR?
CSR is crucial because businesses have a responsibility to reduce their environmental effect. It is in the best interests of business owners to develop a solid CSR strategy and advertise it accordingly.
Q2. Is it expensive to develop a CSR strategy?
No, developing a CSR plan does not have to be costly. Minor modifications to your business can often be made for free or at a moderate cost. Relying on natural light and travelling less will help you save money in the long run.
Q3. What are the advantages of implementing a CSR strategy?
Saving money and recruiting new consumers are a CSR strategy’s two most significant advantages. Using fewer resources lowers your monthly bills and improves your bottom line. A robust CSR approach attracts new clients. Businesses that do not embrace sustainability will be left behind as the world’s concern for climate change and the environment grows.
Also Read: Collaborative CSR In India: How Start-Ups & Corporates Are Partnering For Sustainable Impact