What is Sustainability? How do you take part in sustainability as a business?

Image: Andrew Coelho/Unsplash 


Sustainability is all the trend when it comes to business these days. What is sustainability and how can your business benefit from it you may ask?

In all honesty there are more than one ways your business can reap from taking sustainability seriously.

Before we dive into the topic it’s of interest to briefly explore how this term came to be so commonly used in the lingo of businesses.

While the concept of sustainability is relatively new, it has roots in conservationism, internationalism, social justice and other earlier movements.

By the late twentieth century many of these ideas had banded together in the call for ‘sustainable development’.

The Bruntdland Commission

In 1983, the United Nations tapped former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland to run the new World Commission on Environment and Development. After four years, the “Brundtland Commission” released its final report, Our Common Future, where it famously defines sustainable development as:

Development that meets the need of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainability as defined has three core pillars. Taking into consideration the ecological, social and economic dimensions, recognizing that all must be considered together to find lasting prosperity.

Further elaborating on the three pillars:

Environmental Sustainability - is where the ecological integrity is maintained, such as all of earths environmental systems are kept in balance while the natural resources within them are consumed by humans at a rate where they are able to replenish themselves at a healthy rate.

Economic Sustainability - is where humans across the globe are able to maintain their independence and have proper access to the resources that they require, financial and other, to meet their needs. Economic systems are intact and activities are available to everyone, such as secure sources of livelihood.

Social Sustainability - Takes care of human rights and to ensure basic necessities are attainable by all people, who have access to enough resources in order to keep their families and communities healthy and secure. Healthy communities have just leaders who ensure personal, labor and cultural rights are respected and all people are protected from discrimination.


Sustainability for business

If you are planning to start a business or already own one, it’s never too late to take any of the three areas into consideration in order to make sustainability a natural part of your business goal and achievements.

Latest research has shown that more and more customers are preferring to purchase from business that are sustainable in their practices. A key finding in a new global report, commissioned by WWF, shows a staggering 71% rise in the online search trend for sustainable goods globally over the course of the past five years.

According to Deloitte, over a third of consumers are increasingly factoring ethical and sustainability into their purchasing. They are paying close attentions to the seller’s source of products, whether they are sustainably sourced and also if they have eco-friendly product packaging (size, material and recyclability), together with reducing their carbon footprint.

Hence when it comes to sustainability, your business can consider the areas stated above in order to contribute in the sustainable space. The right implementation aligning your customer’s preferences and sustainable development will be key.

To keep in mind as progress and result always takes time. The benefit of sustainability won’t be so apparent when one decides to implement such factors in its business in the near short term. However, the knock on effect is likely to produce the positive results in the long run you so crave.

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