Going green is becoming more and more popular among businesses, both large and small. Part of this is because of legislation being introduced which encourages companies to use more sustainable practices. However, there are other reasons why businesses are introducing green practices.
It can be tempting to do the bare minimum, only keeping to government regulations when you must and continuing your usual practices whenever you can. However, running a sustainable business can be more beneficial than you may think.
Why You Should Run a Sustainable Business
First, what does it mean to run a sustainable business?
Forbes defines sustainability as the practice of providing for present needs and desires without compromising the potential future needs. So, a sustainable business wouldn’t waste finite resources to meet demands because those resources would no longer be available in the future.
A business or organization can be sustainable in three aspects, economic, environmental, and social. Every business should aim to be economically sustainable, as spending too much money needlessly will only reduce profit margins. However, these three aspects aren’t mutually exclusive. As well as being economically sustainable, many businesses are aiming to be environmentally sustainable, which is where green business practices come into play.
More people around the world are concerned about the environment and the effects that human activities have on it. This means that they’re more likely to pay attention to how companies act. As time progresses, this trend is only going to increase.
Attracting Customers and Employees
When you break down the population into different generations, millennials have emerged as the largest generation. Millennials are far more likely than previous generations to make changes in their lives to reduce their impact on the environment. The next generation is at least as concerned about sustainability.
If people are more willing to make changes in their lives to be more environmentally friendly, it stands to reason that they would be more likely to buy from a business known for green practices. According to some surveys, 66% of consumers are willing to spend more from a sustainable brand, while 81% of consumers around the world feel that companies should improve the environment where they can.
One thing that is easy to forget is that your business isn’t just trying to attract customers, but it’s trying to attract potential employees as well. Millennials aren’t just the largest generation of people, but they also make up the bulk of the workforce. Nearly 40% of millennials consider a potential employer’s sustainability practices when looking for a job.
Not only this, but many employees are also more motivated to work when they agree with the company’s practices and see that the business they work for is doing some good for the environment and the local community. Not only does this motivation encourage employees to work more productively, but it also improves job satisfaction and makes them more likely to stay with the company and to feel comfortable with it.
However, attracting people isn’t the only reason to take on green business practices. As mentioned before, sustainability doesn’t just refer to being environmentally friendly. Many green practices aren’t just good for the environment, but they are also economically sustainable.
If sustainability is planned for when developing and growing your business, then it can naturally reduce costs and increase efficiency. A good strategy may affect operating profits by 60%, potentially having a huge impact on the cost of running your business.
Being sustainable can also improve your company’s reputation with the government and the local community. Community relations ties into attracting customers and employees, but good government relations may help the company to win tax incentives and certain subsidies.
The Consequences of Unsustainability
As you can see, there are many reasons why your company should invest in more sustainable practices. There are also some particularly compelling reasons to not neglect sustainability. As mentioned above, governments are introducing more legislations to make businesses more environmentally friendly. Keeping one step ahead of these legislations can prevent your organization from slipping behind and potentially being faced with fines or other sanctions.
Also, all those customers and employees who prefer companies with a reputation for being sustainable will steer clear of companies who choose not to. Some customers go so far as to boycott certain products, and the rise of social media means that they won’t do this quietly. A poor reputation can be very damaging.
The importance of sustainability is clear, but how can you implement green business practices?
How to Be More Sustainable: The Importance of a Strategy
The first step to running a sustainable business is ensuring that you implement a sustainability strategy. This is step where many companies fail, as they try to become more sustainable without planning ahead. However, implementing a strategy doesn’t have to be complicated or hugely difficult.
Implementing a sustainable strategy requires you to know where your organization needs to change. Collect data about the resources that your organization uses, such as water, energy, and fuel consumption. Once you know this data well, you’re able to reduce the consumption and to develop greener strategies.
Most companies have an office or premises. This is where many opportunities for improvement are found. One step that has become more popular in the wake of the recent pandemic is that of remote working. More employees have home offices and have proven able to work effectively from home.
Remote working can also improve the sustainability of your business. If your workers spend more time at home, they save emissions that would otherwise be produced by commuting, as well as time. It also saves office space and allows you to save on energy and other utilities used in the office. If your staff can work from home for at least part of their working week, you can run a tighter and less expensive operation.
Speaking of utilities, your office likely uses a great deal of electricity. This is where many expenses come from, and it also influences the environment. Ensure that your energy supplier uses green energy. The environmental benefits of this are clear, but it can also save you money. You can even take the next step and provide your own clean energy. This can be achieved by taking advantage of solar power, installing solar panels on your premises to generate electricity.
An even simpler way to reduce energy and other utilities costs is to reduce the amount of power, water, and fuel, that your organization uses. Devices and light switches should be switched off when they’re not in use, and appliances should be maintained to prevent leaks. Smart technology can be implemented to help you save energy, such as smart lighting or a thermostat.
Another good way to save on resources is to introduce a recycling scheme. This starts by identifying which resources are reusable or recyclable. These include paper products, including cardboard, metal cans, printer or toner cartridges, and plastic bottles. Make it easy for your employees to recycle and encourage green practices among your staff.
If you’re transparent with your employees and make them a part of your greener business plans, then you’re more likely to succeed. Not only that, but any employees who approve of sustainable practices will be more comfortable and motivated to help and to be more involved in your business. If your employees are involved and feel free to make suggestions, they’ll be happier, and they may provide some useful ideas.
The sooner you start making changes, then the sooner your business will develop a good reputation.