It’s expected that companies like Shell or BP get jittery are faced with pressures from the world to curb their greenhouse emissions and pollution. They are, in fact, largely responsible for the mess we are in. But like that old saying that came around the internet more than 10 years ago when you find yourself in LA gridlock: you are the traffic. Unless you significantly change the way you get around, like by bike, walking or public transport, you are just as responsible for traffic as the next guy. So it’s two-faced for any of that use the grid, fly by plane, and enjoy industrial agriculture: we are the oil industry, just as much as we are the traffic.
On another rung of the capitalist hierarchy, we have companies like Goldman and Sachs aiming to not only be carbon neutral by 2030, but be carbon negative as well. That’s a bold statement which would be even bolder if they would do more than just buy carbon credits. Colorado College has boldly set the example of 10 year planning and how to reverse carbon from inside the system.
And then there are initiatives, some quiet at first with the potential to grow into something bigger. The same way lottery winnings support social causes, and casinos in Canada support indiginous First Nations communities, one sees more and more leadership roles coming from unexpected sources, even in the gaming industry which has been operating in grey and in often offshore environments.
We are not saying that European or North American companies are not taking stock of philanthropic giving for tax purposes or a genuine care, but there are more targeted efforts to do one’s bit, by taking on environmental projects and tackling pollution. And by companies and CEOs who are happy to put their face forward on what they stand for and what their company is doing.
Consider that a growing number of companies in Malta are taking serious efforts to reduce plastic waste, the number one source of pollution today to our seas. Microplastics are so ubiquitous that we are eating spoons of plastic bits every week.
Jesper Kärrbrink, the CEO of the online gaming company Mr Green, was fond of sandy beaches until he came across a dream beach riddled with plastic as he paddled into the shore with his family. The family started collecting bags of garbage and from that day out with the family decided he would launch the Clean The Sea initiative, along with the University of Malta, and with noted environmentalist Prof. Alan Deidun, Director of the International Ocean Institute – Malta Centre.
Now thanks to this new project students are funded to take stock of the health of the beach, including efforts that sample water and clear the trash that they come across.
“I believe that all companies should give back as much as they can to society, not just through taxes and employing people, but also by engaging in sustainable practices – things that aren’t sustainable just don’t live long,” says Kärrbrink stated.
“In the future, it will be difficult not to be sustainable because customers will expect it of you. Indeed, I believe that the fastest-growing companies in the future will be the ones that are creating sustainable solutions.”
His company (like others in Malta) not only operates in a number of countries and while customers love supporting companies that pay it forward, the initiatives made to clean up the sea can help the company’s 200 employees feel better about working for a company that might do it a bit better by the environment. The company has also created a sensing system that can tell if a player is playing in a destructive manner, outside the realm of entertainment.
“As a tool, it’s very intuitive and straight-forward, and has been getting a lot of industry attention. If you’re a high-risk player, we’ll recommend that you stop and even talk to a counsellor if necessary. If we have a player at risk, we stop all sales communication with them – we don’t push them to play more. In many modern cars, a coffee cup will flash on the dashboard if the sensors detect that you’re driving erratically and need to take a break – this works on the same principle,” says Kärrbrink.