22.09.2021 14:30

How to Incorporate Sustainability as a Business

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According to the Sustainable Business Network, sustainable business means doing things thoughtfully. You look ahead and study how your actions are impacting the environment and change these actions to lessen that impact. Most sustainable businesses also take a look at how their business is impacting society.

How to Incorporate Sustainability as a BusinessWhen you think of sustainable business, you may think of products that use biodegradable packaging, or you may even think of grocery stores that don’t offer plastic bags to their customers.

However, this isn’t all there is to sustainability in business. Incorporate sustainability to your business is a way to grow it, ground your startup with values, and eliminate your negative impact on the world as much as possible.

As you start your business, it’s important to inform yourself about the environment, and how your business fits into it all. Although undergoing this task may seem overwhelming, you can easily incorporate sustainability to your company, make changes based on your observations of environmental problems, what other companies are doing about them, and how your startup can help with things like climate change.

What is Sustainability in the Business World?

Being Sustainable Business World Plant HandHuman industry is a huge part of climate change, especially if you consider NASA’s estimation that climate change is over 95% more likely caused by humans. Human industry encompasses things like farming, mining, obtaining fossil fuels, and non-stop production of carbon dioxide. Additionally, consumption is also an issue.

When we as a people consume so much fossil fuel, especially oil, it will eventually run out. But, until it runs out, we are constantly producing these things, like oil or gasoline or coal. And the production leads to dire environmental consequences.

However, we can battle climate change and improve the health of the Earth by changing how we run our businesses. These changes can be anything from evaluating what kind of waste your company creates, where it goes, and ways to reduce it.

Incorporate sustainability is something businesses should focus on to reduce environmental mutilations like the “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch”.

What Is The “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”?

This is an island of plastic that, according to the scientific journal, Environmental Sustainability, is 1.6 million square kilometers and is floating in the Pacific Ocean. This plastic harms marine life, and in the case of microplastics that sea creatures have consumed, end up harming humans as well.

This plastic is primarily from companies that package their products in plastic. Environmental Sustainability also noted that certain species are going extinct solely because of humans. By 2050, if more companies don’t go green, there is a predicted 27 billion tons of plastic waste that will be produced eventually.

Not only are plastic products an issue, but there are CO2 emissions that are already causing rising temperatures and holes in the o-zone. Environmental Sustainability predicts that these emissions will cause a temperature rise, and will lead to sea levels rising and catastrophic weather.

100 Companies in Fossil Fuel, Accounting for 70% of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

It’s theorized that only 100 companies are responsible for the majority (up to 70%) of greenhouse gas emissions. A Carbon Majors Database report shows that four major companies that mine fossil fuels are the main contributors to these emissions.

And what’s worse is that studies have found that many fossil fuel companies waste more than $2 trillion because they are going after fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and gas. Although it seems like these companies may seem unaccountable for their actions, certain investors have been setting standards to better the environment and business world.

ESG Metrics

ESG or "Environmental, Social, and Governance" Metrics are something investors use to look at how a business is perceived in their respective field. Investors set standards in how a company impacts the environment, how it’s governed internally with or without a diverse board, and what kind of social impact it has as well. This helps investors to prevent losing money on poor investments if they’re only investing in green businesses.

Businesses with high ESG ratings typically have lower costs of debt and equity, and their sustainability initiatives help improve the financial gains of the business, while also earning them public support. According to McKinsey, companies are turning to sustainability because they want to get more investors; but many investors have specific targets for the companies they invest with. McKinsey also reported that 3,000 employees said their motivating factors to adopt a sustainable business model and put it to use were: to align with their company’s goals, missions, values, to build their reputation, grow their reputation and meet customers' expectations.

Examples of Sustainable Business Practices

Many companies that incorporate sustainability have to adopt the three pillars of sustainability: economic, social, and environmental (or profit, people, and the planet). Businesses that go green have a focus on bettering the environment for future generations, while still meeting the needs of the current generations.

Long-term strategies are the best way for a business to be successful while going green. You need to think ahead.

Be sustainable as a business and care about plantsSome goals that a business that’s going green may have:

● Cut their emissions down
● Prevent pollution from any waste they dispose of
● Sustainable materials in place of plastic
● Low energy usage, such as investing in energy light bulbs
● Green-certified office products, such as recycled paper. 
● Encourage recycling and other sustainable behavior from employees
● Network with organizations that also want to go green.

Businesses Examples That Practice Sustainability

If you know businesses that incorporate sustainability, you can use tips from them to make your own business sustainable. Some companies even have sustainability as an advantage over other companies in their field.

Businesses With an Advantage Because of Sustainability

● Ford Motor Company
● Disney
● Fisher Investments
● Hewlett-Packard
● Johnson and Johnson
● Nike
● eBay 
● Starbucks
● Google

We often think companies such as Ford Motor  to be the heaviest polluters out there. After all, they produce cars and other vehicles. However, Ford is implementing a 10-part environmental policy that includes using sustainable fabrics in vehicles, implementing a heavier focus on the efficiency of their cars, and offering more clean diesel pickup trucks. They also recycle paint fumes so that those fumes can become fuel. For many of these companies, there is much more going behind the scenes to lower their emissions and better the world as a whole.

Most of these companies, however, have had to change their entire business model to set sustainability goals. Startups or new businesses, on the other hand, have the unique opportunity to initiate sustainability from the very beginning of establishment.

The Steps to Making Your Startup or New Business Sustainable

Startups or businesses that want to start green instead of going green down the line have a unique advantage because they won’t have to waste time or money by reorganizing their entire company. It will be green from the very beginning, which means, in the long run, they’re going to save more money!

Some other tips that you can run with when you’re making your startup or new business sustainable are to get your partners to buy-in, create closed loops where you can, create a green office space, and once again, convince your customers to get involved in sustainability initiatives.

However, most startups and new businesses don’t make these changes due to uncertainty. While more and more businesses are going green to reduce emissions, it can be pretty daunting of a task to undergo. After all, there’s so much that sustainability can cover. A few simple changes to your company can go a long way.

Here are a few things you can do when you’re just going green, or are otherwise uncertain:

● Use LED light bulbs to save energy. 
● Use environmentally safe cleaning supplies. 
● Reduce your water usage
● Be judicious about paper by using recycled paper, and print on double-sided paper. 
● Give out reusable water bottles to your employees, and avoid plastic ones.

Some may worry that these tasks could potentially change a company's culture, but that can be easily avoided by including sustainability as a value from the very start to achieve social responsibility.

How Does Sustainability Play Into Social Responsibility?

Companies in this day and age have a responsibility to the people, the environment, and to themselves. We all share this planet, and we’ve done a terrible job of taking care of it. Once, social responsibility meant donating to a cause and supporting that cause. But now? Consumers expect their brands to help protect their environment. It takes a lot of work to win your customer's trust, but it does pay off.

Companies that take “making a difference” and build that into their company's brand from the start will find that customers are willing to pay and engage more with their products. Some brands, like Whole Foods, Starbucks, and Patagonia go even further and attempt to implement conscious capitalism. Conscious capitalism is the act of pursuing profit without the goal of financial gain. Instead, it should be about making a positive impact on your customers and the environment.

So keep in mind what kind of values you want your business to have. Evaluate what kind of goals you want to make, and see how it impacts the world around you. Both you and your customers may ultimately thank you for it.

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