As the world comes to terms with climate change, sustainability is going to be a big part of entrepreneurial conversations. The good news for businesses? Research shows that companies making waves in the ecosphere are growing by 15%, while others are stagnating.
So if your company employees two people or 10,000, there are gains to be had by being more sustainable. Let’s take a look at how sustainability will improve your profit margin.
The modern consumer isn’t stupid. More than ever, they’re holding companies to account for their actions. We don’t have to look far to see huge corporations being condemned for an unethical practice here or dodgy tweet there.
But simply not acting like a malignant dictator isn’t enough — today’s businesses need to show that they’re doing good. Research has shown that there is a $1 trillion opportunity for brands who can effectively communicate a sustainable message about their products.
CDP reports that, despite clear opportunities, 4 in 10 businesses fail to capture or report financial value from strong environmental performance. These missed chances will become more crucial as we go forward.
So we’re now in the win-win position where good business is also great for the future of the planet. But before you go boasting about being green, you need to take action. Let’s look at how you can do that.
A core tenet of sustainability is reducing waste, whether that’s energy or materials. Sending less stuff to landfill, reusing what you have and making eco-friendly business decisions will all improve your profit margin.
Let’s start with something simple: lights. The average halogen light bulb might be cheaper than an LED bulb upfront, but in the long-term it’s a no-brainer. Expect to save over £175 per bulb in energy and replacement costs over an LED’s lifetime.
And if your office has a water cooler, get rid of the plastic cups. The UK generates 4.9 million tonnes of plastic waste every year, and plastic cups (whether for coffee or water) make up a significant proportion. Not only do they end up in our oceans and countryside, but they also cost your company unnecessary cash. Provide glasses and mugs to slash your plastic outlay, and save some money in the meantime.
More and more companies are seeing the benefit of going paperless in 2018. Much of what we print is unnecessary, so it can be an easy switch for some. Instead of paper documents, send digital invoices to clients and keep backups of important files online. Use encrypted cloud software for added security.
Sustainability means thinking about the future, and it’s good for business as well as the planet. Short-term cost cutting always leads to someone or something being neglected. It’s about time we changed that.
If you’re a business owner, you know the struggle of balancing the books. But choosing legacy over currency is always the best way to ensure long-term success. It’s not easy, but hard times come to everyone. The ones who survive will be the ones who had the foresight to realise what the world will need in 10, 20 or 100 years.
And if you think environmental action will take decades to reap dividends, think again. The CDP study mentioned earlier reports that 64.7% of environmental initiatives pay back in 3 years or less, making positive action a no-brainer.
In a world that will see more (and more harrowing) climate change warnings in the coming years, investing in sustainability will be a wise move all round.
Sustainability extends beyond reducing your carbon footprint. Social issues, from equal pay to working conditions, are at the heart of a strong sustainability policy. Think about all the stakeholders in your business — are they being treated with the respect they deserve?
From the employees in your office to those who make the paper in your printer, there are a lot of people to consider. Buying ethically-sourced office supplies and being loyal to your staff should be given equal — and considerable — weighting.
Believe it or not, treating people well has its perks. Beyond that warm inner glow, you’ll receive serious PR points as well as staff loyalty when times are hard.
At Conscious Creatives, we don’t just think about profit. We follow the principles of the Triple Bottom Line — People, Planet, Profit.
Every business decision we make must consider the potential impact on people and the planet — as well as the old measuring stick, profit. That means we don’t chase short-term gain if it means we have to use environmentally-damaging methods. And if a financial move causes harm to human beings, we ditch it.
The old way of doing things is broken. Chasing profits at all costs doesn’t work and it’s putting the planet in jeopardy.
Moving to the Triple Bottom Line was the best business decision we ever made, and it’s improved every aspect of our company’s health. We highly recommend it, whether you’re running a multinational operation or a small team affair.
If you want to chat and see how the Triple Bottom Line could help your company, get in touch.
Rhys is Conscious Creatives' resident writer and photographer. His work has been published in various online publications, and he was recently chosen to update a bestselling book on SEO. He continues to seek new and interesting angles for his photography work, shooting his local streets on 35mm film.
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