By Anum Yoon
If someone grew up in a first-world country, they're used to having water at their fingertips. Clean water is so easy to come by that we never worry about it. However, water isn't ever-flowing, and droughts are reaching more and more people, even within the U.S.
Even in this data-driven age, the general public often doesn't keep up with the news. If you poll random people on the street, will they know about the droughts in California? Does the average New Yorker even know about wildfire season in the Southwest region of the United States?
The lack of awareness – let alone knowledge – of the global water shortage is dangerous. Can anyone wake up American consumers to this growing problem? You bet, and corporations are at the heart of curbing the global water footprint.
Is your business one of them?
To start with, a corporate water footprint is used to track how much fresh water by volume is used to create a product or service. If a single company uses too much water, it risks pollution, dry rivers and lakes, and even hurting the wildlife population. From a business perspective, it also means fines, community complaints and even possible relocation, if not shuttering, of the business.
A key way to impact conservation is through the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle, which is exactly what Adidas did. Adidas and Parley recently teamed up to make clothing and sneakers from recycled ocean waste. This symbiotic relationship provided both companies with solid PR, plus it benefits the entire world, which makes this a strong example of how corporations can reduce their global water footprint.
Plus, when companies champion causes, the public takes an interest.
Using your corporate social responsibility as a marketing tool benefits you, the cause and the general public. Don't look at this as one more environmental issue, but rather an issue that affects how your business functions. Donating lump-sums to the cause won't impress your consumers for very long. Instead, look to companies like Adidas that engages in long-term projects that keep it in the spotlight. It’s making the company a part of a global sustainability initiative, which in turn makes it a superstar to the public.
Other companies that have taken this step include Coca-Cola and other food and beverage giants.
Still trying to decide if a water footprint assessment is right for your company? Just stop and remember how quickly public opinion shifts. The U.S. might be behind the rest of the world when it comes to water and sustainability, but as the Southwest drought worsens and more people are affected, it's safe to say that more people will be looking for industry leaders to take action. Those leading companies will be the ones that stay ahead in their industry.
Image credit: Pete R.
Anum Yoon is a writer who is passionate about personal finance and sustainability. She often looks for ways she can incorporate money management with environmental awareness. You can read her updates on Current on Currency.