The Importance of Environmental Awareness When Running a Business As we continue to face the reality of climate change, more and more people are putting pressure on businesses to adopt sustainable practices.
And it makes sense- according to NASA, there’s a 95% chance that human activity is causing the planet to warm up. Human industry has a huge impact on the environment,
due to things like our reliance on land and resources, our use of fossil fuels, and our constant production and consumption. For business owners and leaders, it’s becoming more and more important to figure out how to run a sustainable operation.
It all starts with awareness and understanding the importance of change — for both the business and the planet. Use this resource to help make your organization more environmentally aware.
You’ll find a working definition of sustainability in business, an explanation of its importance, identification of the key players, a discussion of benefits and challenges, as well as information on how to improve sustainability in business.
Sustainability in Business: What Does It Mean?
Business sustainability is the practice of conducting business in a way that does not negatively impact the environment. A green business takes into consideration the best interests of not just the global community,
but also the local economy and environment in which it functions. These businesses don’t just think about profits, but they also think about their impact on society and the planet. By considering the health of the structure within which it operates, a sustainable business helps to create an environment where it can thrive.
A sustainable business is one that takes into account more than just profit. The triple bottom line, coined by John Elkington in 1994, includes people and the planet alongside profits. A sustainable business earns money while being socially responsible and taking care of the planet’s resources.
Why Is Sustainability Important in Business?
The “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is a good example of why businesses should prioritize sustainability.
The scientific journal Environmental Sustainability says that there is an island of plastic in the Pacific Ocean that is twice the size of Texas (1.6 million square kilometers). The plastic hurts marine life, and microplastics in seafood can end up in humans. The plastic would not exist if companies did not use it to make and package products.
If we want to protect the planet and the many species that call it home, businesses need to be more responsible in how they operate.
Unfortunately, the current rate of extinction for both plants and animals is much higher than it naturally should be, all because of human activity. We need to change our ways quickly if we want to make sure that future generations get to experience the world in all its glory.
According to Environmental Sustainability, we’re on pace to produce 27 billion tons of solid waste by 2050.
This is due to a business environment that prioritizes rapid production and turnover of products for maximum profits. Unchecked CO2 emissions are projected to contribute to a temperature increase of two degrees Celsius by 2050. This will cause sea levels to rise and catastrophic weather events to increase.
Sustainable Business Statistics
The sustainability of the business world is something that is often called into question. The following statistics show where the business world currently stands on this issue:
According to a study by Cone Communications, a large majority of Americans want corporations to take the lead on social and environmental issues, even if the government isn’t taking action.
Furthermore, 87% of consumers said they would make a purchase from a company that advocates for causes they care about, and 76% expect companies to take action on climate change. Finally, 73% of Americans said they would stop purchasing from a company that doesn’t care about climate change.
The 2018 BSR/Globescan survey of business leaders in charge of sustainability and corporate social responsibility found that respondents identified ethics and integrity as the top reason for pursuing business sustainability. Three-quarters of corporate sustainability professionals say that businesses need to get better at integrating sustainability into their business strategy to address global mega-trends.
The New Climate Economy’s report stated that 95% of plastic packaging is wasted after only one use. This is costing businesses $120 billion annually.
Furthermore, microplastics have been found in 114 aquatic species. If current trends continue, it is estimated that by 2050 over 140 million people will be displaced from their homes.
To prevent the planet from warming more than two degrees Celsius, industries need to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2060. Businesses can help by adopting green policies.
Who Can Improve Business Sustainability?
There are a number of things that each of us can do to live and work more sustainably, but when it comes to businesses making improvements, sustainability officers are in a unique position to effect change.
As corporate responsibility specialists, they are able to develop and implement programs that will have a positive environmental impact. Additionally, they can collaborate with other departments within the company to ensure that sustainability is considered in all business decisions.
Business Owners and Organizational Leaders
Organizational skills are critical for any leader who wants to bring about change in their organization. Leaders who have these skills are able to make decisions that are beneficial for the business, its employees, customers, and the planet. They are able to identify the most effective sustainability strategy and initiatives and have the power to change policy and spur innovation.
Business Administrators, Managers, and Supervisors
Administrators, managers, and supervisors play a vital role in the day-to-day operations of a business.
To prepare for the future of business administration, these individuals must be equipped with the skills and expertise to think creatively about sustainability solutions. Admins, managers, and supervisors can provide valuable insights into how to improve business sustainability; because of their more hands-on role, they have a different perspective and understanding of the issue.
Human Resource Professionals
In a survey of 148 CEOs from the world’s largest and highest-profile companies, every respondent said human resources practices are essential to building and maintaining sustainable businesses.
Creating a company culture that revolves around your values is important to make sure that your employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas.
This is especially true when it comes to sustainability. The HR team can help out by being cultural ambassadors. This way, they can help employees and new recruits feel like they are recognized and valued drivers when it comes to sustainability efforts.
The Benefits of Sustainability in Business
Sustainability has a lot of benefits, not just for the environment or society, but for businesses, too. Here are some of the advantages of running a more sustainable company:
Reduces Business Costs
” business owners should consider “greening” their business. This initial investment will save money in the long term by practicing sustainability.
In a 2011 McKinsey study, 33% of businesses said they sustainable practices to improve operational efficiency and cut costs. This is a 19% increase from 2010. In just 10 years, clients of the managed service provider Elytus saved over $11 million through sustainable waste management and transparency.”