Sustainability across industries: Eight things you should know
Sustainability across industries: Eight things you should know
As we progress further into the 21st Century, it’s becoming increasingly evident that sustainability across industries is no longer just a “nice to have”, but a business imperative. KAT SARMIENTO reports.
Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the need to protect the environment and are using their spending power to support companies that share their values. Hence, it’s not surprising that companies across all industries are under pressure to adopt sustainable practices to remain competitive. But what does sustainability mean?
Sustainability is defined as the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In other words, it’s about ensuring that our actions today don’t have negative consequences for the planet and its inhabitants in the future.
To better understand this concept, let’s consider the various industries that have already made a concerted effort toward sustainability.
The rise of electric vehicles is one trend helping the transportation industry become more sustainable, as these vehicles don’t release harmful emissions into the atmosphere. Tesla is a company at the forefront of this trend and has recently released several electric vehicle models.
The fashion industry is also working toward sustainability in clothes production, which often uses harmful chemicals and requires a lot of energy and water. One company leading the charge in sustainable fashion is H&M, which has a “conscious line” of clothing made from sustainable materials.
In addition, finance sectors are also making an effort to calculate the financed emissions in their services and activities in order to determine the necessary action to achieve their decarbonisation targets. Barclays has been a leader in this, committing to being net zero by 2050.
Further, the food and beverages industry is working to reduce its environmental impact by implementing sustainable packaging solutions. For instance, consumer-packaged food and beverage company Danone North America has pledged to make 100% of its packaging recyclable, reusable, or compostable by 2025.
The list goes on – proving that the concept of sustainability is an important issue across all industries – but the bottom line is that every business must find ways to operate while doing its part to protect the planet.
Sustainability has many aspects, though, and bearing this in mind there are a few key things you should know when trying to make your business more sustainable.
- Sustainability goes beyond recycling
While recycling is integral to sustainability, it’s only a tiny part of the puzzle. Genuinely sustainable businesses must implement eco-friendly practices, such as reducing energy consumption and waste and using environmentally friendly materials throughout their entire supply chain: from sourcing materials, to manufacturing products, to shipping and packaging.
- Sustainability is about more than just environmentalism
While reducing environmental impact is crucial to sustainability, it’s important to remember that sustainability is about more than just being “green”. Sustainable businesses must also focus on social and economic factors, like creating equitable and inclusive workplaces, supporting local communities, and reducing waste.
- Sustainability requires buy-in at all levels
For sustainability initiatives to be successful, it’s vital to have buy-in from all levels of the organisation – from the C-suite down to individual employees. Businesses must communicate the benefits of sustainability, ensure that everyone understands their roles in achieving sustainable goals, and provide the necessary resources and support.
- Sustainability is a journey, not a destination
Sustainability is neither something that can be achieved overnight, nor a one-time effort. Instead, it’s an ongoing journey on which organisations must continue to work. It is crucial to set realistic goals, conduct project planning, and continuously review and update sustainability plans and practices.
- Sustainability can be profitable
Many sustainable practices, such as using energy-efficient appliances or investing in renewable energy, actually save businesses money in the long run. In addition, sustainable businesses often enjoy a reputation boost that can increase their customer base and customer loyalty. Overall, sustainability leads to increased efficiency, lower costs, and higher profits.
- Sustainability benefits vary by industry
The benefits businesses can realise by adopting sustainable practices vary depending on the industry in which they operate. For example, sustainable agriculture practices may lead to higher yields and improved soil health, while sustainable manufacturing processes may result in reduced waste and increased energy efficiency.
- Sustainability is measured in a variety of ways
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to measuring sustainability – the indicators organisations use will vary depending on the industry and the specific goals they’re trying to achieve. However, some common indicators include greenhouse gas emissions, water usage, energy consumption, and waste generation, as well as social and economic factors such as employee well-being and community engagement.
- Sustainability can start in many ways
The road to sustainability is different for every business, but the best way to initiate sustainability is to start small. For example, companies can switch to energy-efficient light bulbs, begin recycling, or implement a paperless office system. There are many resources available to help businesses get started, including government programmes, private grants, and online tools.
There is no such thing as a perfectly sustainable business and there is no silver bullet that will make a business completely sustainable overnight. However, businesses can strive for improvement by committing to sustainability; taking even small steps can begin the journey and make significant progress toward protecting our environment for future generations. After all, every business has a responsibility to do its part to protect our planet. So, if your organisation hasn’t yet started thinking about sustainability, now is the time to do so.