According to Forbes, while 90% of business executives believe in the importance of sustainability, only about 60% of their companies have a sustainability strategy. Today, more and more consumers are adopting eco-friendly behaviors and are expecting the businesses they patronize to do the same. Read further to know more about sustainable business and how you can make your operations more sustainable.
Businesses around the globe have a serious impact on our environment. Several world-renowned companies are major polluters, consume natural resources at an alarming rate, and are responsible for some of the most detrimental environmental catastrophes in history. Thankfully, modern organizations are waking up to the need for sustainable solutions and are increasingly making eco-friendly choices.
What is a Sustainable Business?
Sustainability comes from the term sustainable development, which means economic development that meets the needs of the current generation without detrimental effects on future generations. Business sustainability means businesses should focus on growth, wealth generation, and the needs of today’s customers without compromising on the well-being of tomorrow’s customers.
The concept of a circular economy is deeply intertwined with sustainable businesses. A company cannot become sustainable unless the others in the ecosystem that it operates in do not adopt similar practices. Sustainable businesses do not stand alone. They work with others to create an ecosystem that strives toward sustainability.
Sustainable Business Examples
Here are some examples of businesses that are doing a great job at being sustainable:
Ikea’s products help customers cut back on their water and energy use. Their products are manufactured using recycled materials and 91% of their waste is recycled or disposed of sustainably.
Thooshan is an Indian startup that creates edible tableware to replace single-use plastics. Their products are made using wheat bran which is usually discarded as an agricultural byproduct. Their products are also biodegradable and can be disposed of sustainably.
Benefits of Sustainability in Business
Besides being good for the environment and future generations, sustainability also has several tangible benefits for your business. Here are a few:
Sustainable business practices can reduce the costs of operating a business whilst being eco-friendly. For example, choosing more energy-efficient practices can help businesses cut energy spending. Sustainable practices can also increase efficiency which ultimately leads to financial benefits.
In business, a good reputation can be leveraged to ensure growth and profits. By creating a reputation for being conscious of their environmental impact, brands can improve their reputation.
How to Create Sustainable Business Ideas
If you are trying to introduce sustainable practices to your business, you will need to be innovative. Here are some sustainable ideas you can try and implement in your business:
Invest in Carbon Credits
While most businesses want to go carbon neutral, it is not possible for some businesses to reduce their emissions. In this case, businesses can offset their emissions by investing in carbon credits. The investment into these credits is often directed towards climate action initiatives that work towards reducing emissions.
Help Achieve UN Sustainable Development Goals
The UN has put forth a list of 17 sustainable development goals, which are a call to action for multiple global stakeholders to come together and work towards sustainable development for all. By understanding how each goal connects to your business activities, you can innovate and make changes that will help contribute to these goals.
Sustainable Business Model
A sustainable business model is beneficial for every stakeholder involved without being a strain on the resources that sustain it. While a business model that prioritizes sustainability addresses all stakeholders and considers environmental impact, a sustainable business model is capable of turning a profit, staying operational for a long time, and operating without negatively affecting its environment.
Sustainable Business Major
Several universities worldwide offer bachelor’s degrees with sustainable business as a major. This is typically a four-year degree that introduces students to common business-related topics like communication, marketing, management, and accounting. Each of these topics is approached with a sustainability lens. Moreover, students are taught how business actions affect the environment and ways in which they can offset the environmental impact of businesses.
Components of Sustainable Business
There are four components required for a sustainable business. These include
Human sustainability is focused on the well-being of the stakeholders involved in or impacted by the operation of the business.
Social sustainability represents a business’ responsibility toward preserving society. It requires businesses to invest in initiatives that give back to society.
Economic sustainability represents the business’ need to remain profitable. It ensures that changes made for the sake of sustainability do not render the business unprofitable.
Environmental sustainability focuses on having businesses operate smoothly without causing harm to the environments they inhabit.
The Future of Sustainability in Business
Elon Musk became the richest man on the planet despite operating a business like Tesla. This shows us that eco-friendly businesses can be extremely profitable as well. Moreover, some of the biggest companies in the world are embedding sustainability as a strategic imperative in their business plans.
As more companies venture down the path of sustainability, the demand for professionals who are familiar with sustainable business will increase. Explore courses on sustainability from Emeritus to develop the skills needed to succeed in the field.
By Tanish Pradhan
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