Sustainability is no longer a short-lived fad.
More and more businesses are discovering that when they integrate sustainable practices into their operations, they see real benefits.
If you don’t have sustainable practices as one of your pillars to success, don’t worry, you’re not alone. In fact, many businesses are still getting on board.
But, having the mindset that incorporating environmentally-friendly procedures won’t make an impact leaves you missing out on grabbing distinct advantages over others in your industry.
In reality, becoming a sustainable company not only benefits the environment. It benefits your competitive edge. Here’s how.
Investing in sustainability appeals to consumers. A survey by the Natural Marketing Institute found that nearly 60 percent of consumers are more likely to purchase goods and services from a company that practices sustainability.
Among CEOs, more than 90 percent believe integrating environmental, economic and social issues into their companies’ operations is important to their success. That’s according to an article published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, which also noted that this new era of corporate sustainability isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. Nearly 88 percent of students enrolled in business school think learning about the role business plays in social and environmental issues is important.
Today, consumers are more educated about how their actions - and the actions of the companies they purchase products from - affect the environment. Consumer conscience and a company’s image are both significant contributors in how people choose what services or products they want to buy.
You may be worried that implementing sustainable practices into your company will eat into your profits. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Sustainable business practices, instead, create more efficient operations. This conserves resources, enhances productivity and ultimately, reduces costs.
Renewable energy sources, for example, reduce greenhouse gas emissions while lowering energy costs. Reducing waste generated at your business cuts waste disposal costs and saves money on supplies. In some industries, recycling certain materials can even generate revenue.
If you’re a company that generates hazardous waste, ensuring that it is disposed of or recycled in a responsible manner by working with appropriate disposal facilities will reduce your carbon footprint and ensure you don’t find yourself in any legal trouble that could produce costly fines.
In some states, including California, businesses can even take advantage of economic incentives that provide financial rewards through grant, payment and loan programs. These programs reward businesses that reduce their environmental impact. Some also combine recycling with economic development to fuel new businesses or expand existing ones.
Readiness For Change
State and federal regulations are constantly changing. As the national conversation on environmental sustainability continues to grow, you may find yourself catching up to new regulations that are being enacted.
Integrating sustainable practices into your business now puts you ahead of the curve, ensuring you are ready to meet any new or changing regulations that come your way in a timely and less costly manner.
Sustainable companies have the long-term advantage of reducing their carbon footprint and preserving natural resources. Your business can reduce its carbon footprint in many ways. Something as simple as switching out all the light bulbs in a building to LED light bulbs can reduce electricity usage, and therefore carbon emissions.
Other ways you can reduce your carbon footprint include:
- Implement a recycling program at your business
- Using Energy Star appliances
- Embracing advanced technologies that substitute fuel or use nuclear power
- Reducing business travel by air or car, and instead meeting via conference calls
- Setting up commuting programs for employees
- Working with suppliers who practice sustainability
- Incorporating more fuel-efficient vehicles in company fleets
- Upgrading to industrial technology with higher efficiency
- Switching to natural gas from coal to power machinery
- Working with employees to encourage them to reduce their own individual footprints
When you integrate sustainable practices in your business operations, you not only reduce your carbon footprint, you reduce costs and improve your energy. Incorporating sustainable practices into your day-to-day operations also puts you at the forefront of adherence to regulations, and places you in a position to easily adapt to any new regulations enacted.
Reducing the impact your business makes on the environment also improves the overall sustainability of your business. If you rely less on natural resources than other companies in your industry, you will be more easily able to adapt rising costs and further government regulations. This gives your business an even greater chance of success in the long-term.
Creating a sustainability plan can help your business achieve its goals that create financially, socially and environmental sustainability. Need help creating one? Our article, What Is A Sustainability Plan? explains how to identify what goals you have, the resources required, and an action plan to achieve these goals.