A little over a hundred years ago, there was a definite careless attitude towards industrial activities and the impact they had on the environment. Whether it was factories belching smoke and ash into the air, sewers emptying out into rivers, or companies strip mining the hills, there was a general sense of irreverence towards any resulting damage provided the profit margins were good.

One hundred years on, the picture is still dire.

A report by the Carbon Majors Database in 2017 found that between 1988 and 2015, 71% of all carbon emissions could be traced to just 100 fossil fuel companies. Reckless use of disposable plastic products means that 8 million metric tons of plastic goes into the ocean each year, negatively impacting marine life. Meanwhile, every year 20,000 square miles of the Amazon is deforested each year – by 2050 it could cease to exist entirely.

In the second decade of the 21st century, it’s increasingly apparent that we can no longer afford to maintain such practices. With the sudden recent spike in global temperatures, rapid loss of biodiversity, increasing cases of breathing-related illnesses, and various other impending disasters caused by reckless pollution, businesses are recognizing the importance of sustainable business practice in future activities.

The benefits of commercial sustainability

It pays to think long term at the best of times, and many companies have met unfortunate fates because they guzzled away resources today without preparing for tomorrow.

Sustainability is not just concern about environmental damage, although that certainly plays a large part in it. It’s also about ensuring that business practices and ventures can keep themselves going for as long as possible, by effectively and efficiently utilizing assets they have right now and cultivating potential resources for later. This provides greater longevity, and greater long-term profits.

Investors in general will gravitate towards businesses that can demonstrate themselves to be safe and dependable, and having a sustainable business practice goes a long way to doing so.

 

It quite literally pays to keep mindful of commercial sustainability.

Employees in general will also seek to join businesses that have a good record of sustainability. Some of it will be ethics based—many younger recruits are more environmentally conscious than older employees—but again another consideration is practical. Just as investors won’t want to sink money into a venture that may very collapse in a few years, neither will people looking for careers consider applying for positions there.

Consumers are growing more environmentally minded as well. The growing awareness of consumption and its impact on the environment make people a lot more wary about businesses and how their activities. As such there’s a growing movement towards companies that uphold sustainable practices, demonstrate positive approaches towards pollution, and limit their carbon footprints.

It quite literally pays to keep mindful of commercial sustainability.

Trending strategies for environmentally conscious business

Over the past few years, businesses have come up with numerous strategies and techniques to make their day-to-day running more sustainable and eco-friendlier. These have gradually become more widespread and can now be found as common practice in many sectors.

Some of the most popular currently include:

  • Going paperless. Most companies have started shifting away from using paper in their day to day administration in favor of electronic correspondences and data storage. Whether it’s invoices, data spread sheets, memos to staff, or personal records, consider switching to digital formats. Not only is this better for the environment, but’s a lot cheaper and saves on physical space too.
  • Recycle. Institute a company policy with waste disposal and encourage your customers and staff to recycle waste products rather than throwing them in the trash. You can set up numerous bins throughout the building to help collect and recycle numerous items, such as wastepaper, plastic, cans, or glass bottles.
  • Use no more than you need. You can cut down a lot on your expenses simply by being more prudent with resources. Never acquire more than you can reasonably expect to use in each timeframe and encourage a policy whereby staff make the most use of resources. Doing so cuts down on the amount of waste your company produces and can also save quite a bit of money as well.
  • Thoughtfully source your materials. Depending on what your business does, you may need to acquire resources from other companies. The classic example is a restaurant sourcing ingredients for its dishes, or a manufacturer resourcing parts for its products. A sustainable business practice here is being selective in what these sources are. Avoid companies you know have unsavory practices and, if possible, source locally too to reduce on travel.
  • Establish a company environmental policy or manifesto. Help codify your company’s approach to the environment by formally writing it down somewhere in your company’s policy. Be transparent about the process and invite contributions from staff to keep the process open and diverse. Doing so will provide clear guidance on how the company intends to operate in the future and is also a useful document to present to the public and investors.
  • Cooperate. Work alongside other companies and businesses to greater support your collective efforts towards sustainable practice. What may seem daunting for a single company could easily become achievable to a cooperative bloc.

 


 

Hult was one of the first business schools to sign the United Nations’ Principles of Responsible Management Education (PRME) and is a founding partner of the Academy of Business and Society (ABIS). Every course at Hult has an ethics and sustainability component. Browse Hult Business Degree Programs