There’s a lovely old Greek proverb that goes “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they shall never sit.” While this quote is less about the environment or planting trees than it is about altruistic long-term decisions, it still applies to sustainability.
It’s hard to wrap our minds around the effects of climate change because it happens so gradually. But make no mistake, it is a pressing issue - for our planet, humankind and even businesses. According to NASA, global warming is largely driven by carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere which are 95% likely to be the result of human activities. And, in recent years, we have only seen an increase in this temperature trend with 2016 and 2020 tied for the warmest years on record.
It’s no wonder that business owners are paying attention. In an extensive study conducted by McKinsey & Company, 72% of the 8,000 companies surveyed indicated that climate change presents risks that could significantly impact their operations, revenue, or expenditures. And climate change is just one of the many challenges we’re facing in this world; there are also social and economic issues that are just as serious.
Many businesses, especially small businesses, don’t know if they can help, or where to start. We’re going to show you that your business can make a difference. But not only that – there are also some amazing benefits to be gained by adopting sustainability practices. But let’s start at the beginning.
Although a lot of emphasis is placed on environmental aspects of sustainability - and that’s a big part of it - there’s more to it than that. One of the most common definitions of sustainability comes from the UN World Commission on Environment and Development: “Sustainability meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” In short, sustainability is an approach to business focused on creating long-term value and mitigating risk by taking into consideration how organizations operate ecologically, socially and economically.
This is just scratching the surface of the benefits of sustainability. If you investigate further, you’ll find many more. The important thing is to look at sustainability through the lens of your specific business, examine your operational processes and see if there are better ways to do things. Can you create a greener supply chain, reduce waste, use energy more efficiently, improve working conditions or optimize your use of resources? If you can, your business will be better off for it. And hopefully, one day, future generations will be able to sit in the shade of proverbial trees that you’ve planted as well.
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