Sustainability is good business
Editor's Note: This column is written from a non-agricultural businessman's perspective.
Going green to make green is red hot right now.
Recently businesses all over the globe have gotten into the “going green” trend and it’s paying off big for many of them. In fact, several recent studies have shown that sustainability-oriented companies have a better stock performance, lower volatility and a higher return on assets than other similar companies. In short, the “sustainable” or “green” companies are making more “green” than the companies that have not jumped on board.
You might be thinking, “That sounds great! I want some sustainability for my company. How soon can I get it shipped to me?”
Unfortunately, sustainability is not a clever new accounting software, a sparkly new app or a cool new office toy. In fact, it’s not a “thing” at all. It’s a philosophy and it’s a very powerful one.
Sustainability is a commitment (from upper management to the front line) to switch from only focusing on short term profit to something even larger and longer lasting - a focus on maximizing the health of people, the planet and profits.
As you may remember from fifth grade biological science, the planet we live on is one big interconnected biological system. So sustainability means that we use this systems’ resources (air, water, land, energy, raw materials) in a manner that will not hinder (no pollution or overuse) future generations’ ability to use these resources. With 7 billion people currently living on the planet and all of them wanting to be rich, get rich or get richer we must start use the resources we have in much smarter ways.
Sustainability is that way and business is the perfect mechanism to deliver smart resource use to the planet’s people.
There are four great reasons why you should integrate sustainability into your business. They are:
1. Sustainability can reduce business risk. For businesses, risk is omnipresent. A sustainability approach (people, planet, profit) to business can reduce some of those risks, such as:
• Litigation –Unfortunately each and every business is at risk for lawsuits. Are you using chemicals in your business that could end up in the local air, groundwater or soil? Finding ways to eliminate the use of these materials can align your business with the environment and reduce risk.
• Cleanup – Accidents happen. By using safer or more environmentally-aligned safety measures for your business, you can eliminate the need for cleanup, and thus eliminate that cost. Brainstorming ways to eliminate accidents and subsequent cleanup costs before they even happen is smart and sustainable.
• Environmental Regulations - Environmental laws are in place to protect the public (people) and the environment (planet) from hazards. Instead of asking “how do we comply?” ask a much different question. Ask yourself, “what if there was no need for compliance?” What if we could point our company at the target of low or no waste, low or no emissions, low or no energy use? What if we exceeded the compliance standard so much that it becomes irrelevant?” No legal costs. No compliance costs. No problem. Okay… fewer problems.