Sustainability is much more than a buzzword. Sustainability is a combination of practices and beliefs that help us use the world’s natural resources responsibly.
It’s also a way of thinking and acting that can have positive effects on almost any business — not just those in the green industry.
Incorporating a focus on sustainability can actually help a business thrive, while simultaneously lowering its environmental impact.
In fact, many economists identify sustainability as a key driver of innovation.
Here are 11 ways sustainability positively affects the economy:
1) Budget savings
As sustainability becomes more of a priority in the business world, people are starting to expect more from their companies.
This means that businesses are spending more money on initiatives like energy efficiency or renewable energy that can help reduce utility costs.
While these initiatives do require upfront investments, many of them also come with long-term savings that can be used to offset these expenses.
For example, companies may invest in renewable energy sources that are also sustainable like solar or wind. Over time, these renewable energy sources will offer cost savings by reducing or eliminating the utility costs associated with fossil fuels.
In some cases, these savings can even be used to offset the initial investment costs for installing renewable energy sources like solar panels or wind turbines.
2) Fiscal benefits
Conventional energy sources are finite, so their prices will inevitably rise. By transitioning to renewable energy sources, it is possible to save money.
In addition to lower energy costs, sustainable companies can also enjoy lower taxes because they often qualify for enterprise sustainability tax credits.
Other fiscal benefits of sustainability include :
- Reduced health care costs: Pollution is toxic to people, animals, and plants. It can cause long-term health issues like asthma, cancer, and other chronic diseases. By reducing pollution, sustainability initiatives help reduce health care costs.
- Increased productivity: Poor air quality can also reduce productivity by causing employees to miss work or be less productive while at work.
- Reduced energy costs: Sustainability initiatives like energy efficiency or renewable energy can help reduce energy costs.
3) Energy efficiency and conservation
Energy efficiency and conservation are two of the most important aspects of sustainability.
This is because most of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from fossil fuel-powered energy sources like coal and natural gas, as well as from the conversion of these fuels into electricity.
As the world becomes more aware of the importance of sustainability, we see more and more countries investing in green technology.
In fact, in its report, “Green Technology and Sustainability Market, 2021-2028.”, Fortune Business Insight mentions that the market stood at USD 9.57 billion in 2020.
This means that businesses will have plenty of opportunities to partner with these countries to share information, technology, and products that will help reduce carbon emissions.
Why is this significant?
By investing in sustainability initiatives and partnering with countries that prioritize this trend, businesses can help expand their reach and create new opportunities for revenue.
Some good practices for businesses include focusing on conserving energy and investing in clean and renewable energy sources. Besides reducing their carbon footprint, these practices can also help minimize electricity costs.
This is especially true if they invest in energy-efficiency measures that can be recouped through utility savings.
4) Green building
Low-carbon construction translates to lower utility bills and reduced maintenance costs.
Green buildings also allow organizations to increase their occupancy rates, attract new tenants, and retain current ones. Green buildings also offer good returns on investment.
“The tangible benefits may not be easily recognizable to tenants or visitors, but through sustainable design, construction and operations green buildings are reducing carbon emissions, energy and waste; conserving water; prioritizing safer materials; and lowering our exposure to toxins.” – US Green Building Council
5) Waste reduction and recycling
Waste reduction and recycling are two of the most important aspects of sustainability.
This is because they help companies avoid creating unnecessary waste, while also repurposing significant amounts of existing waste into new materials.
For example, one waste reduction strategy that many companies use is to replace paper towels with washable and reusable cleaning cloths. Doing so can reduce a company’s paper towel usage by up to 80 percent.
To help guide waste away from the landfill, one can also implement a closed-loop recycling program that repurposes all of a company’s recyclable materials.
In fact, by re-evaluating production lines and supply chains, companies can see a reduction in the amount of waste they produce.
Businesses can actually save money by recycling their waste.
6) Renewable energy & low-carbon fuels
Renewable energy is another core value of sustainability.
Businesses can reduce their carbon emissions and fuel costs by investing in renewable energy sources like solar or wind.
When companies share information and knowledge with other companies, they can create a sense of community and leverage scale to reduce costs.
By investing in renewable energy, businesses can reduce their carbon emissions and increase their carbon credits. This can help businesses expand their reach by partnering with governments and utilities that are increasing the use of renewable energy.
If you want to reduce your company’s reliance on fossil fuels, you can implement programs that help you transition towards more renewable energy sources.
This can include investing in wind- or solar-powered energy systems.
7) Environmentally responsible practices are good for business
One of the most common misconceptions is that sustainability is a way for green companies to profit from the environment.
In reality, sustainable companies often lose money in the short term due to higher operating costs. The real value of sustainability lies in the long term.
“The correlation between corporate sustainability initiatives and long-term value creation is clearer today than in the past.
“By embracing sustainability on the strategic and operational levels, companies can realize greater long-term business value.” – Andre Toh, EY Asean and Asia-Pacific Valuation, Modeling & Economics Leader
Sustainable companies have a reduced risk of going out of business because they are less expensive to operate.
Sustainable companies can also be more profitable because they have reduced costs and increased consumer loyalty.
This is because many consumers like myself prefer to do business with companies that make a positive impact on society and the environment, meaning sustainable companies can charge higher prices or get more customers for the same price.
8) Sustainability drives innovation
Driven by a desire to create a more equitable society, sustainability advocates initially focused on reducing pollution as a way to create a more equitable economy.
Since then, sustainability has grown to become a movement that encourages the development of more environmentally friendly products and services, making it an essential driver of innovation.
According to an article in the Harvard Business Review, “By treating sustainability as a goal today, early movers will develop competencies that rivals will be hard-pressed to match. That competitive advantage will stand them in good stead, because sustainability will always be an integral part of development.”
Sustainable practices have led to innovations in nearly every industry, including renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, and more efficient use of natural resources.
Sustainable innovations have been credited with helping to combat global hunger and the spread of dangerous viruses such as Ebola.
Sustainable innovations are also changing the way we do business. For example, virtual reality and artificial intelligence are creating new ways for people to work and connect.
9) Diversity is key to a successful economy
Sustainability is also good for a country’s economy because it promotes diversity in both products and services.
Increased attention to sustainability has led companies to consider the environment and people’s health in addition to cost when creating their products and services. This has led to a marketplace that promotes innovation and offers a wider range of products for consumers to choose from.
While this has long been a trend in the health and wellness industries, sustainability is extending this trend to other industries, including agriculture and energy. Sustainable practices have led to more diversified products in almost every industry.
For example, sustainable agriculture practices have led to the creation of more food that is healthier and more nutritious while also being more sustainable.
Sustainable energy practices have led to the development of more renewable energy sources, such as solar power, that provide more energy while being environmentally friendly.
10) Sustainability creates jobs
Here are some examples of how sustainability creates jobs:
- Sustainable practices often require more labor and expertise from workers, which creates jobs.
- Sustainable practices also create new jobs in industries such as sustainable agriculture and sustainable energy.
- Sustainable agriculture practices require more workers to produce food that is healthier and more nutritious.
- Sustainable energy practices require more workers to develop renewable energy sources, such as solar power.
- Sustainable practices also create jobs in government as more countries and regions adopt sustainable standards. Sustainable practices often require more government regulation and oversight, which creates more jobs in the government sector.
- Sustainable practices also create jobs in education as more workers need to be trained to create and maintain sustainable products and services.
- Sustainable practices create jobs in research and development as more industries are focused on sustainable innovation.
11) Consumers value corporate transparency
Another reason sustainability is good for the economy is because it helps increase transparency in government.
Sustainable practices require more government regulation, which makes it more difficult for government officials to act without accountability. This helps increase transparency between businesses and the government, which is also beneficial for consumers.
Consumers are more likely to trust businesses that are transparent about the sustainability practices they are using in the marketplace. This transparency creates trust in consumers and makes them more likely to purchase products from sustainable companies. This improves economies by increasing demand for products.
Ways to encourage an environmentally conscious workplace
Creating a sustainable workplace is no easy feat, and it’s not something that happens overnight.
Even so, there are small changes you can make as an individual that will have a positive impact on your company from day one.
In an effort to encourage an environmentally conscious workplace, many companies have implemented policies or initiatives geared towards sustainability. As research shows, these efforts can lead to cost savings in the long run.
However, for this type of culture to thrive in any company, every employee must be willing and able to do their part – starting with changing their personal habits.
Here are 8 ways you can promote a greener workplace:
1) Go paperless as much as possible
One of the easiest ways to promote a greener workplace is to go paperless as much as possible. This could include emailing rather than printing documents and printing on both sides of the paper when really necessary.
While some situations will require printed materials, taking a more mindful approach to printing can significantly reduce the amount of paper in use at work.
This can go beyond what’s expected and encourage your employees to adopt a more eco-friendly lifestyle outside of the office as well.
2) Promote the use of public transportation
Another easy way to reduce your carbon footprint is by using public transportation as often as possible. This includes services such as buses and trains, or even car-share programs.
If you and your fellow employees live in a city, public transportation can be an easy way to drastically cut down on both your company’s fuel costs and carbon emissions.
It’s also a good idea to encourage employees that live near each other to form a carpool.
Finally, and this is my personal favorite, encourage people to ride their bicycles to work. This is what I do. Not only does it have zero pollution, but it’s a great way for me to stay in shape and I don’t get stuck in traffic jams!
3) Implement a recycling program
By implementing a recycling program at your office, you can prevent a significant portion of waste from ending up in landfills.
This can include everything from paper and ink cartridges to plastic and glass bottles, broken electronics, and even food scraps.
4) Install solar panels or promote green energy
Another way to support a greener lifestyle at work is to install solar panels on your roof.
Alternatively, you could choose a green energy provider to supply electricity to your office.
Either of these options will help your company reduce its carbon footprint, while also saving you money on your monthly energy bill.
While solar panels may seem like a high-cost investment, they are eligible for government-backed tax credits. These credits will significantly reduce the cost and may even result in a net gain for your company.
5) Switch off devices when not in use
Another easy way to reduce energy use is to unplug all devices when they’re not in use.
This might sound like common sense, but many people leave their devices plugged in, even when they are not actively being used.
If your office is anything like most, you’ll likely have a handful of devices plugged in at any given time. This might include printers, coffee machines, lamps, and more.
This can add up over time, especially if your company is not monitoring its energy use. By simply unplugging these devices every time you’re done using them, your office could see a significant reduction in energy use over time.
6) Support green vendors
When it comes to purchasing goods and services for your office, you have the power to influence the market.
This means you can use your company’s purchasing power to support vendors that are actively working towards a more environmentally conscious business model.
By choosing vendors that are eco-friendly, you are not only supporting their business models but also helping to pave the way for greener practices across the board.
This includes everything from the products they offer to their sustainable business practices.
By supporting vendors that are actively working towards a more sustainable business model, you are not only helping to reduce your carbon footprint, but also paving the way for greener practices across the board.
7) Use reusable mugs and glasses
Switching from disposable cups and water bottles to reusable alternatives is another easy way to reduce waste in your office.
Instead of buying disposable cups, buy a bunch of beautiful ceramic cups which will encourage people to drink their coffee and tea from them.
And instead of vending machines with plastic water bottles, get a drinking fountain and some glasses. It’s crazy to think that “the average American uses 156 plastic bottles every year”!
8) Encourage green thinking
Finally, it’s important to encourage green thinking across the board.
This can include everything from the type of office supplies you buy to the types of guests you host.
By making a few small changes, you can significantly reduce waste and make your office a more eco-friendly space. This will not only benefit the environment, but it could also save you money in the long run as these changes will likely lead to less waste.
And don’t forget to be a role model. Be the change you want to see.
As you can see, sustainability isn’t just good for the environment; it’s good for the economy, too.
By investing in sustainability initiatives, companies can reduce their carbon emissions, water consumption, and energy costs.
By doing this, businesses are creating a more sustainable future and protecting the world for generations to come.
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