Why should my business become more sustainable?

Sustainability is, fundamentally, the ability to continue doing something, long term.

For businesses this means earning enough to survive, grow and support your staff, while improving the world around you. It includes what you do – the products and services you sell – and how you do it.

At the Sustainable Business Network we focus on three main aspects of this: acting on climate change, designing out waste and regenerating nature.

The business case for sustainability is clear.

Reach more customers…

According to recent Colmar Brunton Better Futures reports, which survey New Zealand households:

  • 48% have deliberately switched to a brand/service provider which is more sustainable
  • 36% said they were committed to living more sustainably  
  • 38% express selected climate change as an issue of concern
  • 29% were actively seeking out ‘do good’ brands and were prepared to invest their time for these companies
  • the build up of plastic in the environment, over packaging, non-recyclable packaging and landfill were among the top 10 concerns

In addition, business buyers, including some of the big players like supermarkets and large retail chains, are increasingly including sustainability requirements into their policies on what they buy, and from whom.

…including overseas

The World Business Council for Sustainable Development says sustainable business will be worth $12 trillion a year by 2030.   

Cut costs

Sustainable business is efficient business. Wherever you apply sustainability thinking, savings can be found. For example:  

  • an energy-efficient office spends about 20% less on energy bills
  • sending waste to landfill can be a costly business – you can save up to $200 by reducing a tonne of commercial rubbish
  • The sustainability initiatives introduced by Soar Print over the past 11 years have saved more than $200,000 in fuel and other materials.

Recruit and retain the best new talent

According to a global report by Deloitte in 2018, “well-being, reputation for ethical behaviour and opportunities to volunteer to make a difference in the community” all featured in the top job priorities for millennials. And according to Colmar Brunton, 72% of those aged 13-17 say it’s important that their future employer is socially and environmentally responsible.

Innovate with the best

Addressing the world’s most pressing problems is the growth area in business innovation.

That’s what’s grown plastic-free beauty product company Ethique from a kitchen bench in Christchurch to a multi-million dollar business within a decade. It’s what’s helped Karma Cola take on the world’s biggest drinks companies with a more ethical alternative. It’s what took Ceres Organics from a food stall at a school faire to Australasia’s premier distributor of certified organic foods.       

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we aren’t psychologists or personal development gurus, but decades of experience has convinced us that doing the right thing just feels better, and leads to a better life for everyone. There’s even some research that suggests that, if done for the right reasons, it makes you live longer. It’s what allows you to go home to your families and speak proudly of what you spend your time doing. But then, you probably knew that already.

Go to our practical resources and find out what you can do.