How To Make Sustainability More Profitable
Contributor: Jim Granat
The focus on eco-friendly or “green” initiatives might feel like a passing trend, but with the public’s interest in global warming, pollution, water consumption and other far-reaching issues, it’s much more than a fad.
Instituting more sustainable business practices can mean real cost savings, from lower energy costs to tax incentives, but businesses can also gain loyal clients and end users looking to do business with like-minded organizations.
A recent study found that more than 50% of Gen Z shoppers (the generation following millennials) are willing to pay more for a sustainable product. With one of the youngest generations showing a marked interest in protecting the planet and its resources, a true focus on sustainability can help your business emerge as a leader now and in the years to come.
Start with reliable data
Corporations can leave massive carbon footprints behind, but you may not know the full extent of your company’s trail without a comprehensive and honest end-to-end investigation.
One way to truly put your business to the test is to hire a third-party sustainability consulting firm that analyzes your entire process. An unbiased firm can find ways to help you responsibly manage or reduce waste and energy usage in ways you may not have thought possible. Depending on the nature of your business, they can also help you source more responsible or sustainable materials, develop greener technologies or even use less water.
Salesforce Sustainability Cloud and similar “carbon accounting” products can also shed light on opportunities to improve. However you go about it, start with comprehensive, unbiased data, and try to keep an open mind.
Stay ahead of the curve with long-term solutions
With the public eye on sustainable practices and products, local and federal policies are likely to shift in that direction as well. Instead of responding to fads like organic produce -- which requires much more land to grow than nonorganic produce -- focus on proven sustainable solutions that help mitigate the carbon footprint your company leaves behind.
This is where reliable data can help you decide where you can make the biggest difference. While the initial investment to make your office, product or services more energy-efficient may be sizeable, there are long-term cost savings of making such changes. Of course, inventory financing, possible tax incentives or other forms of credit can help support your business as you make the shift to a greener enterprise.
Laws change over time, and you may need to adhere to more sustainable practices without capitalizing on the movement now. Because signs point to further environmental protection and sustainable practices legislation, early adoption can give organizations more time to navigate upcoming changes and learn how to better adapt.
Zero waste initiatives vary fundamentally by definition and region, but the ultimate goal of such plans is to reduce waste as much as possible. Your area might be the next to adopt a sweeping sustainability plan, so getting started now can give you an advantage. If you’re among the last to adhere to regulations, you may miss out in more ways than just cost savings or abiding by the law.
From brand-new office furniture and fixtures to a paper-based check, invoicing and filing system, you can save money in many ways as a byproduct of going green. Aim toward a circular economy in your product’s or service’s life cycle. Repurposing or repairing older models can help extend your product’s lifespan while also reducing resources and waste.
If you provide a service, focus on reducing your overall waste output as a move toward sustainability. Even construction companies can qualify as service-based enterprises, so a case-by-case sustainability analysis is necessary.
Sustainability can take many forms, and the concept is notoriously hard to define. But the end goal is to effectively and responsibly balance environmental protection with economic and social development. Your staff can also help you brainstorm unique ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Reducing single-use plastics in packaging and utilizing lower-energy-usage fixtures in your stores and offices are great places to start in becoming more environmentally friendly.
Publish your progress
Once you develop a long-term plan, use your initial data as a baseline to measure your progress. Make your successes and even the shortcomings you may experience in your path to sustainability available to the public -- honesty and making concerted efforts to improve can establish your organization as a leader in sustainability and in your respective field.
Publish regular press releases, white papers or blogs that demonstrate your successes and future plans to improve. Big changes take time, and marketing these efforts also helps build your brand. Establishing your company as a sustainable brand can attract similar companies for partnerships or other affiliations, as well as like-minded consumers.
As you get into the sustainability mindset, you’ll likely find many opportunities to go green. Small changes can truly add up over time, but our planet doesn’t have much time to wait.