STRATEGY – 6 ways you can accelerate sustainable business in the next 12 months

17 January 2017

‘Tis the season for resolutions and fresh starts. 2016 has left a hangover of uncertainty and growing concern behind it. It’s more important than ever that we freshen up and push on with business sustainability. Here’s how.

1. Be happy

We won’t achieve anything worthwhile if it doesn’t come from a positive place. Happiness inspires optimism and opens up possibilities.  It is needed to create collaboration and support. So we need to look after ourselves. No matter what we are working on, we must get the fundamentals right. We need the right mindset, good food, healthy sleep, exercise and companionship. Because if we aren’t having a good time saving the world, who else is going to join in? That might mean doing your thing at Les Mills. It might mean getting some down time at an eco-retreat like Solscape. Or you might want to just get healthier food and accommodation lined up for your people this year. Do whatever it takes.

2. Be in nature

Sustainable business comes from a love of our world. We can only create the kind of passion needed to protect nature if we get out there in amongst it as often as we can. That’s when we fall in love again with the planet – it gives us the determination to look after it – to restore it again.Local council’s do a great job of maintain parks where you can get a good dose of nature, even in the heart of our cities. But let’s face it, in New Zealand, there’s no shortage, so no excuses for getting your share, and encouraging your friends and families, or those you work with, to do the same. When we care about nature we will preserve, protect and ultimately enhance the living systems that sustain us, our businesses and our economy.

3. Include everybody (yes, everybody)

Most of the world’s problems are caused by unnecessary division. Our work must be to dissolve all that divides. In business this might mean unlikely partnerships. It might mean new openness that allows even competitors to learn from what we have learned. The urgency of the challenges facing the world mean we must be recruiters for sustainable business at all times. To do that we must be the most likeable people in the room.

What can we learn from the political shifts and growing divides of 2016? Disregarding points of view we disagree with doesn’t make them go away. It just means they blindside us when they become reality.

Inclusion does not always mean agreement. But when we encounter folks who don’t think like we do, our first instinct should be to understand why. Make that one of your commitments for the year.

4. Put your money where your mouth is

Those of us who believe in a better world should start investing in it. That is the only way the current economy is going to shift in the way we want it to. That applies whether it is your lunchtime sandwich or your vehicle fleet.

Here’s a task to do right now. Consider the least ethical thing that you buy. Check out the SBN Directory. Actually purchase an alternative from one of the companies there. This is also the best way for you to help strengthen our network so that our approach becomes the norm. Every dollar you spend sends a signal to the market – so make each dollar count.

5. Eliminate waste

We share a finite world. We are not (yet) shooting our rubbish into space. So there is no such thing as throwing things ‘away’.

We all need to strive towards a circular economy. This is where resources in products are easily separated and reused, or put back into nature. The first step is to eliminate the acceptability of waste. Ensure you have properly designed and labelled bins from a company like Method. Talk to experts like Reclaim about your waste. At the very least turn unwanted paper back into notebooks with the Misprint Co.

Take a good hard look at your supply chain. What waste is piling up in there? it’s all money down the drain. It wrecks the world we live in.

Get a robust easy to use waste management system in place when things are quiet. This will mean you are not trying to justify waste because you are busy. SBN members can find out more using our waste resource sheet.

6. Tell it and sell it

Sing the praises of sustainable business from the rooftops. Celebrate anything and everything we do to move it forward. This inspires others and inspires the kind of feedback that will make us do more. Multiply the effect of the changes you making by building good news stories around your brand.

Rachel Brown, SBN CEO says: “2017 is going to be huge for sustainability. It’s an election year and it’s also a time where many social and environmental issues have become a priority.  The pressures we are collectively facing are at times daunting but for us they are also massive opportunities for change, and for bolder and brave leadership. It’s absolutely vital that we make those changes possible and exciting as they are really the changes that we we all want to see.”