Often vague and plagued with meaningless buzzwords, the concept of sustainability can be confusing to those unsure where to start. Here we discuss a simple way to introduce yourself to what it means to be sustainable, and how you can relate it back to your organization.
We do a good amount of work across the country, and when we're working with clients on 'going green', they always seem to have some reservations. Invariably, they always end up asking:
“How do we get started with sustainability?”
This is a dynamite question, since the old adage is that every important journey starts with one small step. But what is that first step? What is the single most important thing you can do to get started into the world of sustainable practices and operations, and towards seizing the economic benefits that come from being an environmental leader? It might not be as complicated as you think...
In our opinion, probably the single biggest hurdle towards operating a more sustainable business model is that most businesses simply do not understand sustainability, and can’t define what it means to them and their business. They don't know what to expect from it. It’s vague and nebulous. Since most businesses can’t define it, they can’t act on it. Therefore, nothing happens.
So where do you start with becoming sustainable?
Get a team together at your business, and start by defining what sustainability means to you. Here are some things to consider:
- Do you know a typical standard definition of sustainability? Try the Bruntland definition (summarizing it - using resources today in a manner that protects future generation’s resource needs), or the Triple Bottom Line (People, Planet and Profit). Do you have an industry definition? Can you beg, borrow or steal a definition from someone? Here’s a fundamental truth that I think has to be part of your definition – it’s operating your business in a responsible manner across the board.
- Define how that definition applies to your business. Do you want it to apply to your operations, to your production, to your product itself, to your treatment of employees and other human stakeholders, to your supply or production chain, etc? Or, do you simply want to use it for a marketing advantage (not the best idea for a long term solution, but at least that can start the discussion). What does it mean to you?
- Apply that definition to your organization. See how what you defined it applies to you. Evaluate, benchmark, and question your practices, both big and small. What are you doing now that’s the right thing, and where can you improve? And not just quick fixes either, what can you do that’s daring, out there, different. Think long term, big picture stuff. Sure LED light bulbs are great, but you're not gonna win any awards for taking the easy way out.
The bottom line is where do you start? Figure out what 'being green' means to you, see where you stand relative to those expectations, and make a plan to improve. Towards what? Towards running your business in a more socially and environmentally responsible manner.
Like the adage mentioned above, you can start your journey towards sustainable business practices by taking the first step. It might prove to be the most difficult step in your journey, but will certainly lead to someplace good for your business and the planet. If you're unsure how to begin, or struggling to understand how your environmental performance can be a great tool to leverage your business, click here to contact us or give us a call at 609-693-8301 to discuss your environmental goals today.