How to Become a Water-Positive Business
More businesses have been setting a goal to become water positive. How can you do the same?
- By Jane Marsh
- Jan 13, 2023
Water is an essential component of life. Without it, all life on the planet ceases to exist. Though water covers 71 percent of the Earth, the amount is finite and a mere fraction is drinkable. As the world faces droughts, polluted water and growing populations, many companies realize the importance of protecting available water supplies.
Big and small corporations often impact local water supplies, using resources and only sometimes returning clean results. A move toward reducing usage and improving supply benefits everyone around a facility.
What Does Water Positive Mean?
Reducing their water footprint and becoming water neutral allows brands to reduce their negative environmental impact. Some companies are taking it further and vowing to put more water into the system than they use. The movement aims to improve the world rather than take from it and is the next level of social responsibility and eco-friendliness.
Microsoft recently committed to being water positive by 2030. They plan to replenish stressed water basins by removing asphalt, restoring wetlands and adding rainwater collection systems. Google, Facebook, Gap and BP took on the water-positive pledge as well. Although mega-corporations stand out, many small businesses are also working to improve their practices and protect the environment.
How Can Your Brand Become Water Positive?
Companies wanting to embrace the green practice of becoming water-neutral and eventually water positive should take specific steps to get there.
1. Check Your Impact. It is easier to fix issues with the amount of water you use or any pollution if you know the results of your practices. Ask an outside agency to audit your water usage. Even if you pride yourself on reducing your water footprint already, you can constantly improve what you are doing and create a better future for the community around you.
Did your new building reduce the number of forests in an area or cause a local water basin to dry up? How can you mitigate the effect and add water back?
2. Talk to Your Customers. Studies show consumers are committed to making the world cleaner and healthier in the long term. Brainstorm with your customers about ideas for improving the water in your community or worldwide. Green consumers often have ideas you have yet to think of.
For example, can you come alongside one of your clients and support local community gardens, which help add plants back into the environment and can create spaces where water collects instead of running off into streets and becoming polluted? Although becoming water positive in the ways your brand uses water is essential, it is also vital you support other efforts in your community.
3. Focus on Transparency. Over the years, companies often made pledges and failed to follow through. Brands tapping into freshwater supplies to run their operations may greenwash their efforts or say one thing for good public relations while doing something else.
One way to stay accountable as you pledge to become water positive is to keep your data open to the public—release notes on your water usage and restoration efforts. For example, Facebook discloses its water usage and how much they preserve. They then have a third-party auditor verify their data.
4. Treat Wastewater. Companies in manufacturing may use more water than an area can supply. Reducing consumption is the only solution to this growing problem. Some brands truck in water, but that pushes the issue down the road and can create a lack of resources in other areas.
Anytime a company works with a supplier, the third party may or may not have the same green practices. One solution to reducing usage is to install wastewater treatment facilities on site. Businesses can quickly approach a water-neutral standpoint by using less water and restoring what they consume.
Changing the World
Although companies should worry about greenhouse gasses and pollution, water safety impacts everyone more quickly than any other environmental issue. As the number of people struggling to access clean water grows globally, corporate responsibility becomes crucial in cleaning up what is available and improving availability for everyone.
Jane Marsh is an environmental writer. You can keep up with her work on her site Environment.co.