One of the biggest catastrophes the world faces today is the climate crisis. Weather extremes, rising sea levels, and economic disruption are all effects of climate change on humanity – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Although the damage has already been done, the climate emergency is a race that can still be won. The solution to this? Go for sustainability.
The concept of sustainability that we know today dates back to 1987 when the United Nations released the Brundtland report. It was defined as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Since then, many industries have attempted to align their business goals with sustainability in mind.
Each industry has its offense against the environment. In fashion, for example, the birth of fast fashion resulted in the hyperconsumption of clothes. Being responsible for 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, the fashion industry is now one of the leading offenders of the environmental crisis. And that doesn’t end there! Food production in the food industry and even financed emissions from the finance sector all have harmful effects on our environment.
For a concept so popular, the term “sustainability” is often misunderstood. From common misconceptions about costs to improvements in an organization’s reputation, here’s what you should know about this environmental concept.
Contrary to popular belief, going green doesn’t always have to be so expensive. It reduces overall expenditures in the long term. While it’s true that there’s a steeper upfront cost, this all cancels out once business operations become more sustainable. Utilizing natural light, for instance, decreases electric bills. Even simply reusing old materials such as office supplies contributes to a greener environment. The effects may not be immediately tangible, but simple practices like these go a long way on the road to ensuring sustainability. The principles of sustainability should bleed into other business operations as well, like the project planning process. What’s great about becoming a sustainable organization is that it’s a snowball effect – even if you start small, everything else will follow. Businesses do not have to immediately jump the gun and spend big bucks to go green. Once the cost-cutting strategies do their work, exploring large-scale options can be an option.
Improves Businesses’ Reputation
In recent times, consumers have shown a strong preference for sustainability-driven companies. Customers express this liking as it displays a company’s commitment to alleviating the environmental crisis. Moreover, going green shows that an organization is not in the business purely for financial gain. Whether it’s carbon neutral, net-zero, or climate positive that these organizations strive for, these are seen as green flags by consumers. Many companies then leverage this opportunity to market themselves as environmental allies – hence, an improved business reputation.
Personnel Play A Huge Role
When making the transition to a more sustainable company, personnel play a crucial role. Whether that be top management or employees, lacking support from company personnel can spell trouble for sustainability initiatives. Some employees rely on external motivation while others are motivated by the recognition of their ideas that contribute towards sustainability. For the former, it’s wise to incentivize sustainable actions through parties or financial rewards. Meanwhile, it helps other companies to lend an ear to what their employees have to say.
Offering Remote Work Is An Effective Sustainability Initiative
Many employees gravitate towards remote work not just for convenience, but also for its positive environmental impact. Carbon emissions are effectively reduced as you no longer have to endure long hours in your car stuck in traffic. It’s worth noting that not all jobs across industries are capable of remote work. For example, industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, and retail, are usually not capable of offering remote jobs. Meanwhile, industries in which remote work is logistically possible must take advantage of it. For many companies, offering remote job opportunities attracts employees by positioning themselves as a competitive choice in the market. It’s a double-edged sword – you get to save the environment and you have higher chances of attracting exceptional talent.
Supply Chain Transparency Is Important
For most companies, their supply chain makes up the bulk of their impact on the environment. To truly build a sustainable business, supply chain transparency and traceability must be ensured. While conventional supply chain management zeroes in on speed and efficiency, sustainable supply chain management is focused on environmental principles. An excellent sustainability practice is favoring suppliers who are transparent about their source of raw materials. One must also ask if the supplier favors renewables. And if it wasn’t considered yet, check the applicable modes of transportation used in the supply chain. Are the shipping routes efficient? Or, are electric vehicles being used? These are important things to consider when organizations partner with suppliers. That way, you’ll know if the supplier embodies the values of environmental sustainability.
Circular Economy Practices Are Great For Sustainability
A circular economy is a concept that refers to a model whose objective is to limit the consumption and waste of resources. Practices such as redesigning, reusing, repairing, and recycling all count towards sustainable practices. At the present, we have what is called a linear economy – an economic model that involves the manufacturing of products that are easily disposed of after a short period. It’s a far cry from a circular economy, which places sustainability at its core. The only way to completely change this is by changing our consumption and production practices.
The Market For Sustainable Goods Is Growing
With more and more people becoming aware of the consequences of climate change, the more conscious they get about their actions. This change in consumer behavior led to a rise in the consumption of sustainable products. Among the various age groups, millennials are more likely to purchase products with sustainable ingredients.
Collaborative Action Can Bring Change
The climate crisis may feel quite overwhelming to any individual to the point where they feel helpless. Individual action can only take us so far – solving the climate crisis requires collaborative action. When the big players enter the picture, they play a huge role in our battle against climate change. Unilever, for example, collaborated with its competitors to adopt the use of sustainable palm oil – a major ingredient used extensively in the food and cosmetics industry. Palm oil production contributes significantly to carbon emissions, hence the switch.
The Final Word
With the current environmental issues, it is now critical for companies across all industries to embrace sustainability. After all, switching to a more sustainable process doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to throw away all your hard-earned profits. However, the road to achieving sustainability will be far from easy. One thing’s for sure – you’ll need collective action. As long as all industries ensure that their practices are green, attaining a sustainable future will no longer be a dream, but our reality.
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Kat writes articles with the hopes of reaching out to more people. Her writing is focused on lifestyle, science, and smart hacks, that will definitely (well, hopefully) be useful to her readers.