What is environmental sustainability in business?

Environmental sustainability is the practice of operating a business without impacting the environment negatively, to help support human life in the long term. Businesses have always been expected to lead the way when it comes to environmental sustainability because they are known to be the most significant contributors to polluting the environment, through greenhouse gases, plastic, and waste that they generate. Businesses can therefore make the most powerful difference by taking steps to replace, protect and conserve natural resources. This may include recycling, reducing carbon footprint, making energy-efficient upgrades, and reducing waste.


What are the benefits of environmental sustainability?

Although each organisation has its own reasons and motives for being more environmentally sustainable in business, here are five of the key benefits of becoming a more sustainable company:


1. Environmental benefits

The primary goal of implementing a sustainability strategy is to preserve the natural environment. Our planet is faced with many issues which we can only overcome through the collective efforts of people and businesses around the world. Therefore, it is vital that all organisations choose environmentally responsible practices, to help preserve the earth’s natural resources for future generations.

2. Improves employee retention and your attractiveness as an employer

A HP Workforce survey found that 40% of respondents said that they’d look for new jobs if their employers didn’t prioritise or engage in environmentally responsible practices. Additionally, a survey conducted by Governance and Accountability Institute found that 40% of millennials stated they’d choose a job based on its sustainability activities, and 70% said they would stay with a company if it had a strong sustainability plan. These findings suggest that organisations that take action to become more environmentally responsible, will have lower employee turnover and will be more attractive to job seekers, giving them a competitive edge in the job market.


3. Minimises costs

Becoming more environmentally sustainable can help an organisation save money in the long run. Cutting down on energy, whether it’s through using LED lightbulbs, going paperless, or turning off appliances when not in use, means fewer operating costs.


4. Enhances brand image

A successfully implemented sustainability strategy can positively impact an organisation’s reputation and brand image. Now more than ever, organisations are expected to do their share to contribute to a better future, by taking responsibility for their actions and embracing change for the greater good. Additionally, it can help to build customer trust and loyalty as shown by well-known popular brands, such as Patagonia, who have implemented sustainability at the core of their business model, and as a result have an admirable reputation. A study commissioned by SmartEnergy highlighted that consumers are increasingly favouring environmentally conscious brands, as 4 out of 5 people describe themselves as likely to choose a brand with a positive approach to environmental sustainability.


5. Anticipating future legislation

Making changes to become more environmentally friendly may involve an outlay now, but it could save an organisation a significant amount of money in the future, should the government or their industry enforce specific sustainability regulations. Organisations that integrate sustainability into their practices will position them to meet changing regulations in a timely manner.


In summary, implementing an environmental sustainability strategy into business practices can offer organisations many benefits, from improving employee retention to minimising costs, whilst helping to preserve the natural environment. Sustainability is one of the most pressing issues in the world right now, so businesses that do not take a proactive approach to environmental management risk getting left behind.