It’s never too early to think about sustainability in your business 

9th July 2024 / Sally Marshall / No Comments

What is sustainability? 

You will probably have heard the word used a lot, but what does it mean? Sustainability is defined as to maintain or support a process over time. However,  in 1987, the UN re-defined sustainability as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” The time has come to act with consideration for the future, and your customer knows it. According to a recent McKinsey & Co survey 66% overall and 75% of millennials say they consider sustainability when making a purchase. The truth is we need lots of small businesses doing sustainability imperfectly, not a few big businesses to do it perfectly, so don’t be left behind, be part of the collective change.  

Why is it achievable for your business? 

Contrary to what you may already think, you don’t have to wait until you can afford it, or understand it, or your customers start asking for it. Your customers (or potential customers) may already want to see it from you, they just haven’t told you. Thinking about your values as a business and what sustainability will look like for you.   

Start with what you have. Where can you reduce waste, recycle, upcycle or switch suppliers? Get your team together to discuss ideas and begin to implement small, incremental change. It could look like switching to a renewable energy supplier, reducing the amount of packaging you order, asking your team to recycle effectively or offering compostable labels. It can also look like going paperless (think how much money you’ll save), sending fewer emails (think of the time you’ll save) or ditching the car and taking virtual meetings. 

Benefits 

The benefits are numerous, and will save you time and money. With sustainability increasingly becoming a deciding factor for consumers (and businesses) you’ll capture new customers and markets that care about your business values. Increasing your presence in your community, for instance, by supporting local manufacturing or sponsoring young offenders to get into work will increase awareness of your business and show you care. You’ll likely differentiate yourself from your competitors, and carve out a unique and exciting space for yourself as a business with positive impact at its heart, plus your staff, partners and suppliers will be happy to be paid and treated ethically.  

Don’t forget to tell people 

Whatever you do, however small it may seem to you, don’t forget to talk about it. Sharing your efforts honestly and with authenticity helps to educate others to join you in your commitment. It also tells your customers that you are a company to be taken seriously and that you have your eye on the future. Add a short paragraph to your ‘About Us’ page, or a whole sustainability roadmap page to your website if you’re feeling confident. Tell people where you are, and where you want to be. You never know, some exciting opportunities and partnerships could be opened up simply by you engaging with the subject.  

Lucy Kebbell 

lucy@thewip.work 

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