Climate change is undeniably real, and one of the greatest challenges of our time. As new climate targets continue to be missed even with international collaboration, the argument for sustainable practice grows from the grassroots.
Sustainability is a crucial consideration for businesses today, for a variety of key reasons. But it is also a costly one, requiring as it does a complete overhaul of existing frameworks in favour of a more efficient and less pollutive future. But why should businesses be considering their role in the climate crisis at all?
One of the principal reasons that make adopting sustainability as a core mission or corporate value is, put simply, PR. Public opinion has shifted considerably in the last two decades, as the impacts of climate change have made themselves all the clearer in news reports – and, in recent months, in our own weather experiences.
The public are also acutely aware that businesses shoulder a greater share of the responsibility for carbon emissions in the UK, making it the responsibility of businesses to have the biggest impact on reducing carbon emissions. As such, the public vote with both feet and wallets; businesses with no commitment to addressing their impacts are penalised, while greener enterprises enjoy increased custom.
Here, though, it is crucial to make a distinction between the cynical act of ‘greenwashing’ and the genuine adoption of sustainable missions and policies. Many businesses seek to benefit from the positive PR of green missions, and attempt to do so with words over actions. These businesses are not difficult to discern from those genuinely committed to change.
There are key cost benefits to consider from taking sustainable practice seriously, too. An obvious example might be found in fossil fuels, which are only getting more rare and more costly. With fossil fuels a finite resource, it is only a matter of time before their prices skyrocket further.
Pivoting to green alternatives cuts both long- and short-term costs, while future-proofing elements of your business. Meanwhile, improving energy efficiency in your offices or locations can reduce your energy usage overall, with a sympathetic impact on annual overhead costs.
In some cases, the changes you make towards sustainable practice can have unintended benefits for your business. For example, same-day logistics can be rendered sustainable through multi-stop deliveries, not only reducing your carbon footprint for logistics but also improving your last-mile delivery service and providing new value to customers. This, in turn, engenders loyalty and financial growth as above.
Finally, it is especially important for businesses – particularly those in engineering and manufacture – to consider the local impacts of their business. Those that use toxic chemicals and take little care in disposal could be actively harming local wildlife ecosystems, to say nothing of the impact emissions can have directly on human health. Addressing these potential issues at the source can help improve the ‘health’ of the local area, and rejuvenate natural ecosystems – again, engendering positive press and customer loyalty.