While sustainability is a global issue that is recognised 24/7, 365 days a year, by businesses and non-governmental organisations alike, on the 22nd of April each year, the world comes together for Earth Day. The day recognises the significance of positive environmental impact and the economic and political intervention required to provoke necessary change.
Organisations across the globe are highlighting their commitments to sustainable development on this day as many of them set their sights on the net-zero emissions goal. The event sees more than one billion people mobilised as they take various non-profit actions to clean up beaches in more than 190 countries—a tradition that began in 1970.
The 2022 Earth Day theme is ‘Invest in our Planet’ and will host a live stream of the Earth Day Climate Action Summit featuring insights to promote prosperity among viewers and—similar to other events like the COP series—provoke positive change.
Organisations recognise ESG on Earth Day
The message behind ‘Earth’ Day is not only to promote sustainability in terms of the climate but to recognise that environmental, social and governance (ESG) topics are all important in ensuring a well-rounded approach. Consideration for all three areas of ESG is universal, not just for the organisations with direct impacts on the plant. As an example, Zai Lab Limited, an innovative global biopharmaceutical firm, is working with a global charity to plant more trees and reduce its carbon footprint while regenerating the environment.
Its partnership with One Tree Planted will see that one tree is planted for each of Zai Lab’s employees, which made up a total workforce of almost 2,000 personnel. Chief Sustainability Officer at Zai lab, Jim Massey says that “as a young, vibrant and growing healthcare company, Zai Lab commits to ‘Grow Green’ which means we are laying the groundwork for the sustainability of our business and our planet.” The firm is recognised as a preferred partner, thanks to its commitment to ESG throughout the business.
Partnerships are crucial for sustainable action
It’s no news that partnership can open up unseen opportunities for businesses—particularly those that operate and expand globally. Larger organisations are partnering with small-to-medium enterprises to support small initiatives that can make huge impacts on the planet. Beyond its partnership in electric vehicle charging, Bolt is also taking regenerative action by supporting Seedballs Kenya, an initiative that is regenerating land with a key bio-energy resource, charcoal—a commonly used form of energy production in Nairobi.
Seedballs Kenya is a prime example of a localised circular economy as it uses biochar, produced from charcoal dust, as a protective layer for its seeds in areas that are seemingly difficult to regenerate. This forms the Seedball.
Supporting initiatives like this one is driving innovation in the direction of a circular economy and more organisations are committed to achieving carbon neutrality by investing in regenerative horticulture and agriculture.
Teddy Kinyanjui, a Co-Founder of Seedballs, emphasises the importance of initiatives like these.
“In Kenya, like many other countries, the forests and grasslands are under great pressure. One of the many challenges of landscape-scale restoration is that indigenous seeds are often food for different types of animals like mice and birds,” Kinyanjui says.
“That's where we come in. The Seedballs programme overcomes this challenge by coating native seeds in waste charcoal dust which prevents the seeds from being eaten. This means that the native grass and tree seeds can be planted year-round rather than waiting for the rainy season. When it rains enough, the charcoal dust dissolves and the seed sinks into the ground back to its natural state, ready to grow.”
The Head of Sustainability at Bolt, Natalia Gutiérrez also comments on this and how the company’s core values catalyed its partnership with Seedballs.
“Bolt is built on a culture of operating in the most efficient way possible and we apply those values in how we mitigate our own environmental impact,” says Gutiérrez.
“We have handpicked a select number of projects where we collaborate closely with NGOs and other partners on local initiatives that we are confident will maximise the positive impact we can have on the environment. We are proud to announce Seedballs Kenya as the first project of this kind we are investing in and look forward to seeing the difference it will make in areas of Kenya where reforestation was unlikely to occur naturally.”
Every business can become more sustainable
There are many avenues that companies can follow as their path towards sustainability. This will most certainly look different for every organisation, which is why Earth Day brings together many of the new ideas and initiatives that shape their ESG strategies and address concerns around waste management, energy consumption and sourcing, greenhouse gas emissions, social justice and governance.
In the ever-growing food delivery market, changes have happened at an unprecedented rate—partly due to COVID-19 as consumer sentiments accelerate towards more sustainable products and services. In particular, food waste is a challenge that businesses in this space are concerned about. According to the UN Environment Programme’s Food Waste Index, more than 900 million tonnes of food is wasted every year and consumers have made positive changes to the way they consume food.
- 67% of respondents to a survey said they keep leftovers and use them for another meal
- 51% of consumers are frustrated by food waste
- 73% prefer to have accurate portion sizes to avoid food waste
- 68% feel that takeaway restaurants should have better precautions in place to reduce food waste
What makes a good sustainability initiative?
Where there is no single formula for sustainable business, Earth Day will surely outline some successful initiatives that can be replicated, adapted, and shared with other businesses. Whether it involves being more transparent of sustainability credentials, taking on new projects to improve emissions and waste management with an organisation, or supporting partners in their efforts to regenerate land, Earth Day 2022 hopes to inspire every individual, group and organisation to ‘Invest in our Planet’.