The population of the globe is nearly eight billion. People are increasingly concerned about sustainability. We are aware that as a global community, we share limited resources on this planet. We’re more aware than ever that we depend on the environment for all of our needs. These include food, water, and air, to the raw materials we use to make the economic world go ’round.
Businesses are increasingly conscious of how their products and practices impact the environment. Social and economic pressure has something to do with this. However, the finite nature of our natural resources also makes it critical to take a look not only at what we’re doing now but how our startup might affect the future or the planet.
So what is “sustainability?” It’s basically as simple as it sounds: planning your marketing, business, and customer relationship efforts around the future availability of resources.
The future of every business will hinge on sustainability.
In 2015, world leaders agreed on 17 global goals for sustainability. These goals range from big picture items like eliminating poverty and world hunger, to reducing inequalities, protecting our oceans, and committing to sustainable land use practices. Individuals and businesses alike can make a difference by contributing to these efforts.
Before you decide to overhaul the way you do business, you can start with an evaluation of your startup. Look at what you’re already doing to commit to sustainable practice. Identify areas that could use improvement.
This is a great opportunity to include your team. They are likely to have great insights, and including them in a critical sustainability mission will show them how much you value their thoughts.
Here are three vital areas you can look at to evaluate your sustainability efforts, today.
1. Work for sustainable communities and economies.
Building sustainable communities and economies includes efforts to eliminate poverty, but also is about building equitable relationships with your business. Reducing poverty is one of the 17 global goals identified above. It’s a great starting point for any business wanting to get involved.
Your business might commit to donating a certain percentage of profits to a charity or organization devoted to helping people meet their food, housing, and income needs. This is a great way to get your team involved. Let your employees vote on possible charities, or give each employee an opportunity to direct a portion of your charity dollars to an organization of their choice each year.
You can also evaluate your startup’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. This goes beyond simply hiring women, people of color, people from the LGBTQ community, etc. Make sure those team members have a voice and space at the table. Let them lead when appropriate.
This will lead not only to a more inclusive and sustainable work environment in the short term, but will potentially boost your revenue by as much as 19%, according to a recent BCG study.
2. Put some thought into food system sustainability.
You can contribute to food system sustainability in a variety of ways. You can donate to nonprofits or other organizations committed to ensuring the future of food for our planet’s growing population. Your team can also make a difference by closely examining where your food and ingredients are sourced and choosing sustainable options.
It’s important to consider the origins of your food (and ingredients in your food) and commit as much as possible to sustainable sourcing. This can contribute to the health of your team, the humane treatment of animals, and to the health of the planet. For example, companies like PURIS are leading the way with plant-based protein that is also sustainably sourced and eco-friendly.
You might also look at how your business sources its product materials. Are your raw materials stressing food production efforts in any way? If so, are there alternatives you can consider? We are creating incredible innovations every day. Keep an eye out for ways you might be able to improve your materials sourcing, packaging, and shipping efforts to help ensure the future of food.
3. Consider going remote and hiring gig workers.
There’s been a lot published lately about the benefits of continuing remote work options, post-pandemic. It’s logical: physical office spaces are expensive. You end up paying for enormous amounts of electricity, heating and cooling, and equipment — all of which is often still eating up power (and your bottom line), during off hours.
Going remote is potentially a great economic choice for your business and is also a great opportunity to reduce your startup’s energy consumption footprint. It’s also a great financial and environmental move for your individual team members. No commute means less gas consumption, fewer car repairs, less wasted time sitting in traffic — you get the picture.
A remote workplace can future-proof your business. You won’t have to suddenly come up with Plan B when the next pandemic hits! It also means community sustainability. You can draw from a larger pool of job candidates for your next hire. You can also hire gig workers and people from communities that might not otherwise have access to the experience and economic benefits a job with your company could provide.
While you’re at, look at other ways you interact with the world in digital spaces. Research the software services you use to find out about their commitments to sustainability. Try to build relationships with other companies who share your core values.
Pay attention to your marketing and website or e-commerce presence, too. How do those actions impact resources and energy, and are there ways you can make improvements? The possibilities are truly endless.
4. Install EV Charging Stations
It’s no secret that electric vehicles (EVs) have become a popular option for consumers. As more people become aware of the need to reduce their carbon footprint, the desire to shift to clean transportation continues to increase. One of the more obvious solutions startups can consider to increase their sustainability is to invest in EVs for their transportation needs.
However, for startups that want to take things a step further, installing EV charging stations is an incredible decision. Having a charging station enables you to save money on fuel costs for your company fleets. Yet, you can also make money from EV charging stations by making them available to your staff, nearby businesses, and the general public.
Your startup can generate revenue by receiving a percentage of the user fees every time someone uses your charging station. Such an option is a win-win as your business increases revenue while doing your part to preserve the environment.
There are so many ways that established businesses and startups can incorporate sustainability consciousness and efforts into their practices. If you make sustainability part of your core values, you’ll be amazed at the difference one company can make.
Research ways you can help and be innovative in your approach. Think about the basics, such as your hiring practices to the way you package and provide your products. Be receptive to learning about new ways you can help. New insights, technologies, and innovations are constantly emerging. Don’t be afraid to reevaluate and shift gears as needed.
If you commit to a sustainable business model, your customers will notice. Your employees will thank you, and the future residents of planet Earth will thank you.