How Does Being Sustainable Make Me a Better Business?

Across the globe, businesses are feeling a heightened sense of corporate social responsibility. As the threat of climate change looms and consumers continue to prioritize eco-friendly organizations, companies are taking note.

Truly sustainable businesses are not to be confused with businesses that are simply going “green.” Being “green” is concerned with environmental conservation — the definition doesn’t expand much beyond that. For example, a business that’s “going green” might start a recycling program or take on an initiative to plant trees in the surrounding neighborhood. Being sustainable, however, encompasses much more than just the environmental health of the present.

Sustainability involves itself with the entire system of eco-friendly initiatives, including economic, social, and environmental benefits. It aims to create systems that are healthy, environmentally conscious, and viable for years to come.

In a nutshell, sustainability focuses on building continuous and lasting eco-friendly solutions, while being green focuses on short-term initiatives.


Sustainability: Not Just a Fleeting Trend


The United States as a whole — as well as the rest of the globe — is shifting towards more sustainable business models across industries. Examples include the integration of hybrid and electric drivetrains in the auto industry, fashion brands taking on the industry’s infamous water waste problem, and, of course, the rising prioritization of renewable energy. These commitments to sustainability point to a growing upward trend of corporate responsibility as organizations wake up to the economic advantages of sustainable business practices. Implementing a circular economy, for example, is projected to offer up to $4.5 trillion in economic benefits globally by 2030. What’s more, implementing the Paris Agreement will spur at least $13.5 trillion of economic activity just in the energy sector by the same year.

Though sustainability may seem like a niche concern, it’s not just small, independent businesses taking advantage of its economic benefits. Large multinational corporations, such as Best Buy, Tiffany, and Cisco Systems, have also made significant headway in their sustainability efforts.

Leading the charge in sustainable business is solar, whose low installation and maintenance costs, high energy output, and longevity are key for many organizations looking to decrease their carbon footprint.


How Sustainability Contributes To Better Business


Sustainability in business contributes to several opportunities for growth and impact, both on an organizational and system-wide level.


Sustainable businesses generate local jobs.

Sustainable businesses are key job contributors in local economies. Companies that embrace sustainability see consistent and positive growth, effectively creating more jobs and attracting top talent. For example, every megawatt of solar energy installed in the U.S. pumps $2.5 million and 20 construction jobs to the local economy.

Sustainability increases your business value.

Not only do sustainable business practices cut operating costs, but they can also contribute to increased asset value over time. Some building owners have reported seeing an increase of 10 percent or greater in asset value.

Your brand’s image gets a facelift.

Consumers care about a brand’s eco-friendly image. Truly investing in sustainability positions your business to consumers as an ethical, socially responsible company that they’ll want to support.

Your brand stays ahead of the curve.

It’s no secret that we’re living in the age of conscious consumerism: roughly two-thirds of North Americans prefer to support sustainable and eco-friendly businesses. Consumers are more likely to spend their hard-earned dollars with businesses that align with their personal values and forgo those that don’t, which means a public commitment to sustainability could keep your business in your consumers’ favor. 

Sustainability keywords pique customers’ interests.

Consumers are frequently on the lookout for messaging that indicates a brand or product aligns with their values. As a result, terms like “organic,” “sustainably-grown”, and “recycled” are increasingly incorporated into labels, marketing campaigns, and creative collaborations — and companies should know how to incorporate this vocabulary into their consumer-facing messaging to drive interest.

Sustainable businesses work towards a collective good.

Companies that are awarded B Corp status have committed to leveraging their business capabilities towards a more inclusive, sustainable economy. These businesses strive to reduce inequality, lower poverty levels, and create a healthier environment, stronger communities, and purposeful jobs around the world.

Sustainable businesses can harness the power of social influence to create lasting change.

Most consumers say they prefer sustainable products and services, but getting them to actually buy them has proven tricky. Businesses that make sustainable options the default lead by example, spurring somewhat of a domino effect.

One example of this can be found in Germany; a study there found that when green electricity was set as the default option in residential buildings, 94% of residents decided to stick with it. Similarly, businesses that default services like reusing towels or receiving electronic statements, rather than having users opt in, lead to a greater uptake of the most sustainable option.

Sustainability in business isn’t just an environmentalist’s pipe dream; it’s a viable, robust solution that fortifies businesses and prepares them to lead full steam ahead into the future.

by | May 13, 2021

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