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Sustainability is the New Currency of Cool—How to Make it Work for You

October 30, 2014

“Sustainability” is an oft-repeated word these days. But what can it really do for you? Corporate sustainability, planned out and followed through, can be a major boon for business, with quantifiable economic, social, and environmental effects.

It can also give your company an edge in the dawn of our current age of increasing social awareness (and a competitive race toward) and push for sustainable practices.

A successful sustainability strategy for your business, as seen through the lens of an equation, has definite pluses and no real drawbacks. For one, it can create a communal, recycle-minded culture among employees, with measurable statistics of higher retention, green appeal for new candidates, and increased productivity.

Work-life satisfaction is also affected when an inclusive sustainability policy is implemented in the workplace, and even more so when coupled with rewards and benefits for employee participation.

Direct social engagement for businesses and brands, whether through digital media or otherwise, is here to stay.

So keeping abreast of goings-on in the community, with outreach to charities, shelters, and universities and a direct, visible sustainability goal will speak volumes to potential customers and current staff alike.

What sustainability does for the inside of the company, it will also do for the outside—a true green ethos has proven to be immensely popular among consumers—especially young millennial consumers—who choose more carefully where to spend their dollars than did past generations, and they are clearly choosing sustainable business over the non-sustainable. Millennial customers are also some of the most brand-loyal as well, once they feel that a company is doing good for the environment and around the globe.

A recent study has shown that companies with a high sustainability profile substantially outperform their less-sustainable competitors, both in the stock market and in return on assets and equity. So delivering on a green policy combined with an environmentally-conscious marketing campaign can truly affect your bottom-line.

But what, exactly, does it mean to become a sustainable company?

A Green Identity

First, a shift in brand identity from top leadership positions in your company is necessary. This refocusing doesn’t have to be anything major, either; small steps toward a sustainable future are the only requirements. This top-down commitment (as opposed to letting it silo in a single department) to sustainability is outlined by leading by example and sincerity, motivating colleagues to model and participate in your policies.

Collaboration and Coordination

Highly-sustainable companies have been known to have a higher propensity to partner with institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and other companies to help transform their existing daily operations, logistics, and processes into an efficient, sustainable framework.

If you’re looking to change your office’s location or move into a new building, check to see if your architect/building firm has a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. This is a completely green manner of building, and a good choice if you are looking for an office or store that is more sustainable and less costly to maintain in the long run.

This back-and-forth cooperation with leaders and experts also promotes an environment of innovation and fosters the birth of ideas for improvements and fresh perspectives on challenging problems.

Channeling Your Inner Sustainability

Look toward changing existing procedures on dealing with waste (whether standard manufacturing, medical, or retail waste).

Here are a few easy ways to become more sustainable (and save more money):

  • Including more incentives for energy efficiency among employees,
  • Modifying material-squandering processes to become less bloated,
  • Reusing materials wherever possible, and
  • Initiating a comprehensive recycling program.

Check with your supply chain to see if they are utilizing sustainable features of business to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If they aren’t, try working together with them to come up with a plan to cut down on waste and pollution—and the same goes for all aspects of your business.

Photo credit: jellyfire via compfight

Disposal of hazardous waste doesn’t have to be painful.