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Does Sustainability Make Good Business Sense?

  • Business
  • Sustainable

It seems that everyone is taking steps to ‘go green’ these days: McDonalds is increasing its energy efficiency, Starbucks is making tables from recycled coffee grounds, and even the sports brand Puma has got on board with a compostable, reusable shoe bag. As more and more businesses seek to up their eco-friendly game, does it make sense to follow (the green) suit?

If you are not already looking at your business’ eco-footprint, arguably you are already missing out on a growing breed of consumer. Many customers are now actively seeking out brands and products that offer eco-friendly solutions, and care more about where their purchases are from, how they are made, and how sustainable their packaging is. If both feasible and transparent steps are made to go green rather than ‘green wash’, this could positively contribute to brand image, help differentiate from competitors, and even attract new audiences who may be actively looking for green alternatives. 

As an art product consumer, I regularly come across questions on many leading art supplier websites from customers seeking to know the origins of products sold and whether they have been sustainably made. For instance, Arteza’s boxed wood slices for painting and decorating are described in the comments by brand representatives as produced on sustainably managed farms, although this potential selling point is not featured in the product description. Sustainability is increasingly becoming a buyer’s concern, informing purchasing decisions across different types of industries. Forbes also highlights that even where concern does not always translate to consumption, this can present opportunities for businesses to solve customer problems and benefit financially. 

Another advantage of incorporating sustainability into a business strategy is the potential opportunities for growth, training, and development. Take the Edinburgh-based company Vegware for instance, who offer plant-based and commercially compostable food packaging solutions. According to their website, they also offer training and consultation on zero-waste support, with various example case studies. Therefore, training provision could create additional streams of income for a business as well as benefit the local community, create good PR, and help the planet – a win-win for all!

Thinking about whether sustainability makes good business sense is also an important consideration for the future of jobs and the economy after Covid-19. As many companies struggle to maintain what they already have, they may understandably not be thinking much about sustainability right now. However, green models of growth might help companies to get a head start on future jobs, as well as paving the way to longevity, and help them become one of the leaders of positive change. According to National Geographic, some of the fastest growing green jobs include ‘green designers’, like architects, landscapers, and urban planners, in addition to more energy specialist jobs. The OECD also explores what role sustainability might play in the economic recovery including new jobs and filling skills gaps. 

Going green clearly offers many different types of benefits which are arguably worth far more than any initial start-up investments. 

Author: Gemma Johnson


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