The business of sustainability

Businesses, everywhere, must now play their part

The world is in a state of great flux. The enormous challenges of our time cannot be ignored, and businesses are expected to play their part to help build a better world.

Yet businesses still struggle, believing they have to get everything right. This is not the case. From what we see at i=Change, consumers want to know the brands they support are on the journey. There’s no silver bullet. Consumers simply expect businesses to be transparently committed to a path forward.

Ironically, brands not on this journey miss out on a significant engagement opportunity; to speak of their impact, wins and misses, the chance to move the purchase decision from head to heart – and become known as a business committed to building a better world.

Here are some ways businesses can think about their sustainability:

  • Support community and social causes: Your businesses can become more sustainable by actively supporting social or environmental NGOs. This fosters a positive brand image and supports sustainable development. This can drive significant engagement and growth as a brand, and is one of the most tangible ways to communicate your impact.
  • Embrace renewable energy: One of the most effective ways to reduce your business’s carbon footprint is to transition to renewable energy sources. Installing solar panels, utilizing wind power, or purchasing green energy from suppliers can significantly decrease reliance on fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Optimize resource management: Implement measures to reduce waste, such as recycling programs, reusing materials, and adopting circular economy principles. Efficient use of water, energy, and raw materials not only benefits the environment but also reduces costs and improves operational efficiency.
  • Sustainable supply chains: Source materials from environmentally responsible suppliers, promoting fair trade, and supporting local communities. Assessing the sustainability performance of suppliers and encouraging them to improve their practices can have a significant positive impact.

Paul Polman, ex-CEO of Unilever, oversaw a major transition, leading an enormous corporation to commit to meaningful sustainability goals 

  • Eco-friendly packaging: Reducing packaging waste is an important step. Businesses can explore alternatives like biodegradable or compostable packaging materials. Minimizing excessive packaging and encouraging customers to recycle or return packaging also helps.
  • Transparent reporting and accountability: Measure, monitor, and report on your sustainability performance. Implementing clear Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) allows you to track progress and identify areas for improvement. Transparent reporting builds trust with stakeholders, enhances brand reputation, and encourages accountability.
  • Continuous improvement: Sustainability is an ongoing journey. Regularly review and improve your sustainability practices, embrace emerging technologies and stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in sustainable business practices. Encourage feedback from employees, customers, and stakeholders to drive continuous improvement.

By adopting these strategies, your businesses can pave the way for a sustainable future. Combining environmental responsibility with profitability not only benefits the planet but also positions your business as a leader in your industry and a steward of the environment.

Creating a sustainable business is no longer just a noble idea; it’s become a necessity in today’s world. As resources become scarcer, businesses must adapt and take responsibility for their social and environmental impact.

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