Make sustainability work: why contributing to a better world will benefit your business

Make sustainability work: why contributing to a better world will benefit your business

Climate change, the nitrogen crisis, biodiversity on land, water shortages, obesity: a range of social and environmental themes have moved from the outskirts to the heart of society, reaching consumers and businesses alike. Now more than ever, sustainability matters. Governments across the globe have responded to this development, introducing new legislation and regulations that impact your company. Mandatory carbon footprint reporting and CO2 taxes, for example, will significantly change the way in which you run your business.

And that’s just the beginning. Investors will want proof of your sustainability efforts, while environmentally conscious employees will ask how sustainable their employer is. And what about consumers, who increasingly prefer to purchase products and services from businesses that care about the world we live in?

The key to a ‘Triple Win:’ consider sustainability an opportunity

A new normal is materializing as we speak (or, in this case, write). That means it’s time to embrace change. Although it might sound intimidating, we can assure you it’s not. Shifting your focus from traditional themes (such as consumption, growth, and efficient production) to sustainability can benefit your business.

First, it’s crucial to understand social and environmental issues are part of your market. It’s consumers (not the government) who struggle with obesity; who don’t want to buy goods produced by child labor; who head straight to the grocery store’s vegan products section. And those consumers are your customers.

Now, what if you don’t see this development as a burden? What if it’s a great opportunity — a new consumer need — your business can respond to in innovative ways? Then, it’s what we call a ‘Triple Win:’ you, your customers, and society at large will benefit.

Unearthing opportunities: a 4-step plan

Can’t wait to turn potential problems into exciting opportunities? Remember, you can’t change the world (or your business) overnight. But with your ultimate goal in mind, you can book success in the short term. How? Our 4-step plan will set you in the right direction!

  1. Analyze

Start by listing the social and environmental issues that relate directly to your business. Are you a food manufacturer that produces not-so-healthy products, or does your brewery solely sell alcoholic beers? Perhaps it’s time to come up with healthier alternatives (meat substitutes and non-alcoholic beers can taste just as good — or even better!).

  1. Innovate

How can you make a difference? You may have to create a new product or service. Or, maybe it’s time for a whole new business model (think creating a new value stream by collecting your waste — like (PeelPioneers) [], which offers a circular solution for leftover orange peels). Remember, it’s good to think outside the box.

  1. Market

Now that you have jumped on the sustainability train, it’s time to get consumers on board, too. Marketing is key here. If you introduce a new product, make sure customers understand why they need it. Don’t just play the sustainability card. Keep in mind consumers want easy-to-use, affordable products and services that come with a compelling benefit and meet their needs now. You will want to communicate all these aspects — like (De Nieuwe Melkboer) [] does with its Dutch plant-based ingredients, which are homegrown and environmentally friendly.

  1. Measure

To measure is to know. So, make sure you keep track of how your efforts affect consumers, society, and the environment. That will also help you communicate your efforts and investments and create value in the market place. Curious to find out more about footprint measurement? Keep an eye on our next blog post!