Sustainable business practices encourage the organization to consider the effects of all their decisions on people, planet and profit
When a business strives for sustainability they look towards social benefits (community, employees, vendors and customers), regenerating the environment (reducing energy, water & waste, closing the loop on manufacturing processes and designing products/services to work in harmony with natures’ laws) and economic profit (interestingly enough, companies with formal sustainability plans outperform traditional counterparts. Check out the Dow Jones Sustainability Index !!)
Sustainable business practices are designed to
* save money
* protect the environment
* earn customer trust
* comply with and exceed regulations
* honor employees and community
* boost efficiency and productivity
* create market opportunities
* encourage regional economic development
* reduce risk
* reduce reliance on fossil fuels
Some sustainable practices to strive for include:
* Create a sustainable vision, mission statement and sustainable core values.
Vision is a concrete picture of where you want to be in 3-4 years, where anything is possible.
Mission statement is why you exist. It answers the question, "What is the ultimate result of your work?
It focuses on the outcomes and results,and can easily be memorized.
Core values are characteristics that define you. They are the values you want to see more evident
in your daily lives.
* Communicate to the public your vision, mission, and values
* Engage in strategic planning
* Precycle- Reuse before you recycle
* Recycle- Use materials in continuous cycles
* Buy recycled (It’s not recycling unless you buy recycled!)
* Buy Local
* Choose products with an environmentally friendly life cycle
* Use printing products that are environmentally friendly
* Use cleaning supplies that are environmentally friendly
* Reduce Office Waste
* Find uses for manufacturing by-products-(See our materials exchange)
* Group purchasing
* Group marketing
* Practice employee performance evaluations.
* Motivate employees with unique benefits.
* Encourage employee participation in the community.
* Celebrate employee activities in the community
* Create rewards, incentives, and recognition for employees who take on leadership in sustainability efforts.
* Acknowledge employee performance, work ethic, and community participation
* Encourage the use of alternative transportation
* Create incentives for alternative transportation
* Adopt alternative energy sources and practices
* Practice Energy efficiency
* Practice Water efficiency
* Build an environmentally friendly building
* Rent or lease instead of buy equipment
* Teleconference instead of travel
* Understand how your business affects the environment by evaluating the relationship with suppliers and customers, and the full life-cycle of your products and services.
* Practice Extended Product Responsibility (the idea that there’s a shared responsibility—among suppliers, manufacturers, and consumer) for reducing the environmental impacts of products throughout their life cycles.
* Develop Eco Industrial Parks- a concept that consists of a series of businesses linked not only by proximity but by production inputs and outputs.
* Practice continuous improvement- always striving towards sustainability
* Seek awards for your sustainability efforts
* Learn from your mistakes
* Toot your own horn about your sustainable business practices
Sustainability is a great challenge. Remember to start by making changes where they can be done profitably. And gradually take on more. Your improving performance will help you seize market opportunities that benefit you, the consumer, and the environment.