Recently, businesses all around the globe have tapped into the “going green” trend, and it’s paying off big for many of them. In fact, several recent studies have shown that sustainability-oriented companies have a better stock performance, lower volatility and a higher return on assets than other similar companies. In short, the sustainable, or green, companies are making more “green” than the companies that have not jumped on board.
You might be thinking, “That sounds great! I want some sustainability for my company. How soon can I get it shipped to me?”
Unfortunately, sustainability is not a clever new accounting software, a sparkly new app or a cool new office toy. In fact, it’s not a thing at all; it’s a philosophy—and a powerful one.
Sustainability is a commitment to switch from only focusing on short-term profit to something even larger and longer lasting: a focus on maximizing the health of people, the planet and profits.
As you may remember from fifth-grade biological science, the planet we live on is one big interconnected biological system. So sustainability means that we use this system’s resources (air, water, land, energy, raw materials) in a manner that will not hinder (no pollution or overuse) future generations’ ability to use these resources. With 7 billion people currently living on the planet, we must start to use the resources we have in much smarter ways.
Sustainability is that way and business is the perfect mechanism to deliver smart resource use to the planet’s people.
There are four great reasons why you should integrate sustainability into your business.
1. Sustainability can reduce business risk. For businesses, risk is omnipresent. A sustainability approach (people, planet, profit) to business can reduce some of those risks, such as:
• Litigation. Unfortunately each and every business is at risk for lawsuits. Are you using chemicals in your business that could end up in the local air, groundwater or soil? Finding ways to eliminate the use of these materials can align your business with the environment and reduce risk.
• Cleanup. Accidents happen. By using safer or more environmentally-aligned safety measures for your business, you can eliminate the need for cleanup, and thus eliminate that cost. Brainstorming ways to eliminate accidents and subsequent cleanup costs before they even happen is smart and sustainable.
• Environmental regulations. Environmental laws are in place to protect the public and the environment from hazards. Instead of asking “how do we comply?” ask yourself, “What if there was no need for compliance? What if we could point our company at the target of low or no waste, low or no emissions, low or no energy use? What if we exceeded the compliance standard so much that it becomes irrelevant?” No legal costs. No compliance costs. Fewer problems.
2. Sustainability can cut your costs. This is the low-hanging fruit of sustainability and it’s not difficult to take on. Focusing on what you take, make and waste in your practice or place of employment can be a successful sustainable strategy for both the environment and your company. What if you could reduce your energy costs by using a sustainable resource or a more efficient process? What if you could reduce your waste disposal costs by creating less waste through recycling or precycling? What if you could use less water? What if you could use the sun to preheat the water you need for the process? What if you could reduce your water, energy and waste?
3. Sustainability can build your brand. You survive and thrive as a business because your clients choose to do business with you. If you lose the respect, trust or loyalty of your clients, you’re finished. Consumers today hold companies to a much higher standard than ever before. They expect and reward companies that hold themselves responsible for the people the company affects and the planet it uses resources from. A sustainability focus allows you to make sure that you earn a profit while keeping your eyes on the positive treatment of people and the planet as well. Short-term profit margin focus only is no longer acceptable to customers and they can let the entire world know with one mouse click. The more your company acts like a decent local and global citizen, the more your clients appreciate it and the more loyal they are to your brand.
4. Sustainability can grow your revenue. From a business perspective, this is the most fascinating area of being green. New products and services are developed every day, but what if a business used its problem-solving skills with sustainability as a guide? Viewing the market through the business lenses of sustainability allows you to see the market in a way you’ve never seen it before and capitalize on what you see. Because it’s a paradigm shift, you may be able to see solutions that others focused only on short-term profit can’t see.
Sustainability is good business for the planet, good for the people of the planet and good for business. What are you waiting for?
Steve Trash® is a nationally recognized speaker and consultant. He utilizes his distinct presentation style to speak on the importance of sustainability and actionable guidelines to enact eco-friendly practices in business. As a member of the National Recycling Coalition and the North American Environmental Education Association, Trash is spearheading the campaign to reduce wasteful corporate procedures and promote environmentally sound business methods. To learn more about his speaking engagements, visit www.SteveTrash.net, call (256) 710-7216 or e-mail GreenSteveTrash@gmail.com.