As the world continues to embrace industrialization, there has been global concern over the detrimental overuse of resources. For this reason, many individuals, organizations, and even authorities have begun championing sustainability and preaching the gospel of conservation. Even so, the involvement of corporations and businesses in sustainable development has been quite a controversial matter. On one side, some people are adamant that companies are a significant contributor to environmental degradation and other social evils. However, others believe that enterprises and corporations are the answer to many of these problems. They argue that the role of ensuring the world is safe from environmental destruction does not only belong to the public sector.
"Going green and sharing the responsibility of making the planet greener should be an inseparable part of each company's daily activities. We try to introduce such solutions into our manufacturing process by incorporating solar-powered technology into our products whenever applicable", says Gevorg Hambardzumyan, CEO of Front Signs, a US-based sign manufacturing company specialized in making custom business signs. With this, we can conclude that not only do businesses play a crucial role in conservation, but they are also ready to take up the mantle. Still, given that the green movement is yet to be embraced by most businesses, many entrepreneurs may find it hard to take up sustainability. Nevertheless, this article explores companies' roles in the sustainability movement to help business owners adopt the green movement much more comfortably.
Sustainability in Businesses
In simple terms, sustainability in businesses refers to the ability of companies to mitigate their effects on the environment. While companies have greatly benefited from capitalism since time immemorial, its social and environmental impacts have begun to outweigh its benefits. For this reason, many businesses are aiming at having more positive influences on the environment.
As more and more companies are focused on reducing their environmental impact, more and more sustainability positions are being created in-house to lead these efforts. According to Maryville University, "over the next fews years and decades, the worldwide economic benefit of environmental responsibility and sustainability could measure in the trillions of dollars: $26 trillion by 2030 for low-carbon initiatives, $17 trillion by 2050 for compact and connected city planning, $2 trillion each year for sustainable agriculture and forest protection practices" and the list goes on.
What Can Businesses Do to Promote Sustainability?
Businesses need to take a leading role when it comes to embracing sustainable development goals. Despite this, a recent study found that only 37 percent of corporations have plans to engage the global movement. Here are some of the things that companies can do to ensure that they fulfill their end of the bargain in environmental conservation.
One of the most effective ways companies can promote sustainability is by reducing the materials used in manufacturing, packaging, and transporting products. Tiny changes in these sectors of businesses can have immense impacts on the sustainability of corporations. Moreover, with this method of reducing their environmental impact, companies stand a chance of decreasing their overall production costs.
Sourcing Alternative Energy
Alternative sources of energy or renewable energy refer to energy sources that do not rely on fossil fuels. Some of the most common forms of renewable energy include wind, solar, and geothermal energy. Although it is almost impossible for most companies to avoid using fossil fuels, they can reduce their dependence on them by utilizing alternative energy sources. However, a study found that the initial costs of installing these sources of energy are what discourage most entrepreneurs from employing alternative energy. Nevertheless, investing in renewable energy has proven to be beneficial in the long run.
Incorporate Your Employees
Charity begins at home. This adage is especially true when talking about sustainability. For business owners to ensure that their companies play their part in sustainability, employee involvement is paramount. A company culture that encompasses environmental conservation makes it easier to achieve your sustainability goals. There are plenty of ways to make your team more driven towards sustainability. One way is by introducing incentive programs to reward employees who display eco-friendly habits. You can also motivate them by engaging them when making business decisions that promote sustainability. Lastly, business owners can encourage workers to carpool or even work from home to reduce their overall carbon footprint.
Reducing the Use of Paper
Despite today's technologically enhanced world, it's baffling to find out that more than 40 percent of the global wood harvest is used to make paper. Companies use paper for multiple purposes, but perhaps the most prevalent uses are making official communication and billing. For this reason, more enterprises should embrace online billing and electronic communication to cut down on paper waste. After all, more often than not, the paper used for invoices and letters ends up in the trash. However, a completely paperless company is not entirely practical. Hence, business owners should ensure that they exclusively supply their companies with recycled paper.
What Businesses Should Keep in Mind
While there's no doubt that enterprises should be involved in environmental sustainability, taking action isn't a walk in the park. There are some crucial factors that all companies need to keep in mind for them to ensure a successful crossover to sustainability.
At this point, no one can deny that the environment is in dire straits. Climate change and other horrible effects of environmental degradation are slowly destroying the world. While most executives and business owners find sustainability vital, only about 60 percent of them plan to incorporate sustainable business practices in the future. What's more, less than 30 percent of businesses in the world have consolidated conservation strategies in their business model. Therefore, more companies need to do their due diligence in promoting environmental conservation.
It's Not Only About Altruism
Contrary to what many may believe, businesses that embrace sustainability aren't entirely altruistic. Although altruism is a commendable virtue, it can be equally detrimental to your business. Therefore, all business owners must ensure that their companies are both financially fit and sustainable. Without achieving this delicate balance, companies could end up bankrupt.
Compliance and Competition
While it is true that sustainability can present a competitive advantage for businesses, entrepreneurs should understand that the market is yet to be effectively developed. Therefore, companies should be more focused on being compliant with environmental regulations than seeking a competitive head-start.
Unlike popular belief, embracing sustainability doesn't mean putting all profitability in the backburner. Instead, sustainability in businesses should coexist with profitability and success. If you're interested in making your company more sustainable, going through this article is a step in the right direction.
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