It’s easy being green and it needn’t cost the earth!

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Over the past decade, corporate responsibility and sustainability have become more than just buzzwords for big business as the benefits of operating with a social conscience have become mandatory to consumers.

Businesses and brands that adopt an ethical sustainable approach to their operations are raking in the accolades as Gen X, Y and millennials push for organisations to reduce their impact on the environment.

Growing research suggests sustainability is not just good for the planet it’s good for business. According to Harvard Business Review report investing in sustainability is not only a great risk management tool, it usually goes hand-in-hand with innovation. Just how well this can work is exampled by Nike. Deciding to embed sustainability into their process, the retail giant created the Flyknit line which has resulted in over $1 billion in revenue.

Similar opportunities could be unlocked by Australian businesses. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), launched in 2015, are 17 goals for ending poverty, transforming health and education and tackling challenges such as climate change. Implementation of many of the SDGs would unlock a massive opportunity for many Australian businesses.  Investment in renewable energies alone is flagged to raise an extra $8 billion in annual revenue for Australia. While innovation in technology such as virtual reality (VR) could save the health industry up to $11 billion a year over the next decade.

While these figures may sound lofty – there are already immediate rewards for any business opting to go the B Corp route. Statistically, companies and businesses that are thought to be ‘doing good’ track better with consumers and receive an instant boost in brand loyalty and awareness. Not to mention the kudos…

As an example, De Bortoli Wines’ goal to become the Zero Waste wine company saw the brand pick up a prestigious Australian Business Award for Sustainability in 2015 and become the first business in NSW to receive Platinum Project certification in 2017 after developing its own methods to become more energy efficient and water-wise.

Developing sustainable business practices also provides further opportunities for businesses to streamline their resources and cut costs. With the government pushing for business to better their sustainability goals, the Office of Environment and Heritage offers a range of tips to help make your business more sustainable: from simple efforts such as reducing waste and recycling to more complex strategies such as the installation of geothermal heating and cooling to offsetting carbon usage.

The printing industry is one industry that has come under fire for its lack of sustainable practice but its changing that reputation one business at a time.

Candi Browne, owner of a SNAP franchise in Preston says her business is doing its bit to ensure their print production techniques have minimal effect on the environment. Browne first went down the sustainable path in 1999 after accepting the government initiative to ‘Take the Challenge’. These days sustainable practices are part of her and SNAP’s every day.

“We try to be as sustainable as we can at home, so why shouldn’t we try to do the same in business,” Browne asks Kochie’s Business Builders (KBB).

“My concern is humans on this planet are disrupting the status quo. Printing is a dirty business in the scheme things and all I want to do is my little bit to decrease our impact.  So our aim is to simply minimise the impact of our business activity on the environment in any way we can,” she says.

To this end, Browne says Snap Preston uses equipment in power saving modes, use recycled stock for stationary wherever possible, research all new equipment purchases for power consumption ratings and even go the extra mile by making all local deliveries on foot with the aid of a trolley.

“if it’s that bit too far, we might jump on the bus and if we have to use the car we offset our carbon footprint.

But the buck doesn’t stop there. Browne carries on her sustainable approach throughout the business.

”Our clients can also choose from a range of recycled stocks and we also use vegetable inks in the print process.”

According to Browne, every little bit makes a difference. “We do a lot of little things which all add up,” Brown says, “from powering up big equipment like the laminator only once a day to save energy to limiting waste products. Our attitude is that every little bit helps.”

The business also offset their carbon emissions. They do this with Greenfleet, a not-for-profit environmental organisation which offsets carbon emissions by planting native forests.

“To date, our commitment has helped plant over 560 native trees in forests,” says Browne.

Not only can sustainability be used to lower costs, but it can result in increased profit. In their 2014 report Profits with Purpose: How Organizing for Sustainability Can Benefit the Bottom Line, McKinsey researched 40 companies to understand sustainability challenges and seek practical recommendations “to capture value from sustainability”.  The analysis showed growing consumer interest in sustainability ensures any business that truly commits to more environmentally friendly practices can win big.

A recent study by Deutsche Bank revealed that companies with high ratings in environmental, social, and governance factors outperformed their competitors. The perception that you can have profits or sustainability has finally been refuted. In fact, businesses can often make considerable savings by adopting sustainable practices by reducing their use of natural resources and minimising waste.

GlobalScan’s Rethinking Consumption report also adds further weight to the need for businesses to embrace sustainable practices with nearly two-thirds of consumers across the international market saying they believe they have a responsibility to buy products that are “good for the environment and society”.

With consumers shifting their purchasing power to brands that embrace sustainability there’s never been a better time to make sure your business is a brand with a purpose. Why not explore your sustainable options now?

If you’re looking for an environmentally friendly print expert who can produce your stationery, brochures, posters or flyers, contact your local Snap Centre today.

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Cec is the editor of KBB. She is a multimedia professional with over fifteen years experience as an editor on titles as diverse as SX, Better Pictures, Total Rock, MTV, fasterlouder, mynikonlife and Fantastic Living. She has spent the past four years working as a news journalist covering all the issues that matter in the political, health and LGBTIQ arena. She is the Head of Content at Pinstripe Media and a recent convert to the world of small business.

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