- Peri Avari
The Power of Sustainability
Updated: May 8
Corporate sustainable practices are the need of the hour and the hope for humanity’s future. The impact of businesses on the environment far exceeds that of any household or individual, and every industry has a strong moral responsibility to create value for society and the environment through sustainable business models.
So what is corporate sustainability? Simply put, it is a holistic approach by a company to help protect our ecosystems and preserve natural resources, by taking a close look at every workplace-related and client-facing aspect of their operations, from production to delivery and logistics, as well as customer services.
Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) criteria, a data-driven approach to help investors gauge a company’s commitment to sustainable practices, has placed a further degree of accountability on industries to step up and create company-wide metrics for their environmentally-friendly measures.
A growing market for sustainable brands
The escalating threat of climate change caused by human lifestyles and choices is difficult to refute with the overwhelming amount of proof that global warming is indeed a reality one must accept, and act upon promptly.
Data shows a significant increasing trend of global carbon emissions from fossil fuels, which are up about 90% since 1970. On the other hand, emissions from fossil fuel combustion and industrial processes contributed about 78% of the total greenhouse gas emissions increase from 1970 to 2011. (Source)
So what is corporate sustainability’s role here?
Businesses have noticed that there is a growing market of consumers that make environmentally conscious choices. This global need for energy-efficient practices in the way companies operate, is leading to a higher demand for sustainably made products and services. Hence, we see companies making a shift toward sustainable marketing strategies to appeal to this growing demographic of environmentally conscious consumers.
How different industries can harness the power of sustainability
Large industries are taking on the mantle of creating sustainable ways of conducting their businesses and leading change. They are adding their customers’ preferences to the conversation while bringing this pressing issue to the forefront. In addition, the markets view companies with better Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) metrics as more stable and resilient, with higher returns and lower risk.
Now that we understand what corporate sustainability is, let’s take a closer look at these industries and their transition toward sustainable business models.
1. Travel and tourism
Eco-tourism is a growing industry and with its heavy impact on the environment, travel and tourism as an industry can be a true agent for change. From high plastic usage in hotels to the environmental impact created by the airline industry’s use of fossil fuel, the industry is slowly but steadily making relevant sustainable changes toward a green business model.
Green buildings that are energy efficient and built using practices that reduce the environmental impact of construction are a rising trend. Responsibly disposing of construction waste, using pre-fabricated building materials, and digitising blueprints, are some areas that can harness the benefits of sustainability for this industry.
Controlling the impact of the heavily regulated pharma industry on the environment requires a close set of associations between manufacturers, medical professionals, and the government. Digitisation of many manual processes in this industry will be the next step forward in building a green business model.
4. Information Technology
The IT sector might look like a clear winner in sustainable business models due to the digital nature of its business, but that is not the case. Creating sustainable change to reduce the impact of the increasing numbers of large server farms, which are the physical location for all cloud-based solutions, is becoming a dire need in this growing age of information technology.
5. Agriculture and the food chain
The world needs more food as population numbers and affluence increase. It’s also time to change the way we grow and deliver that food. Some steps that are being taken include respectfully harnessing nature’s bounty to protect the environment, handling logistics efficiently, and using local resources to reduce the carbon footprint of delivering food. Using IoT in Agriculture to increase crop efficiency along with new agricultural processes like hydroponics and soil fertility management will help this industry sustainably keep pace with the growing demand.
Producing electricity efficiently can be a single source of significant change in the environment since burning coal, natural gas, and oil for electricity and heat is the largest single source of global greenhouse gas emissions. Switching to renewable energy sources like wind and solar, especially during peak usage times, is a growing trend.
7. Clothing and fashion
Many brands have emerged with sustainable marketing strategies to make their stand clear when it comes to eco-conscious fashion. Additionally, brands that use sustainable practices to manufacture eco-clothing made with bio-materials are on the rise as well, serving a surge in the need for ethical and sustainable business models in fashion. With the high demand for fast fashion, handling clothes waste in environmentally conscious ways is the need of the hour for the clothing and fashion industry.
Simple steps towards corporate sustainability
Big changes take time and resources, which might be difficult to take on all at once. But small adjustments can start adding up when they are made by large corporate players. Let’s take a look at a few simple ones:
Create a community within the organisation with like-minded environmentally conscious people, all of whom are invested and proud of creating eco-friendly changes within the company. This team can set up Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) rubrics and criteria to formalise the process and make your company more attractive to investors.
Relook at bringing in energy-conscious transportation options for employees, and seek out opportunities for sustainable practices for logistics and delivery of company products and services.
Take a deep dive into areas where technology can replace physical resources. For example, a simple change from manual to digital billing can reduce the use of paper and mailing, with the added benefit of saving time and receiving prompt payments.
Remove plastic and other non-biodegradable material from the workplace to make a defining environmental impact.
Introduce local and farm-to-table food in company cafeterias leading to healthier choices and happier employees.
Make recycling a priority in all parts of the organisation since businesses produce large amounts of waste.
Earth is home to us all and its dwindling resources are not just one organisation or industry’s problem to solve. With the privilege of using this land and its bounty, comes the responsibility of taking good care of them. Our future generations depend on it.