Sussiness - putting Sustainability into business

Should you make your business sustainable?

The economic arguments to run a more sustainable, environmentally friendly business are persuasive, widely published and well-promoted. And if you have decided to become a more environmentally-friendly business, then there are literally hundreds of books that provide advice on how this can be done.

So, the economic argument is strong, the tools are there and in many cases governments are even providing grants to assist the transformation. So, why are so many businesses (from large corporations to sole-operators) not making this essential transformation?

Perhaps we need to forget economics; financial levers can be persuasive but their efficacy can be questioned.

Perhaps the answer to “why should I make my business sustainable?” is more complex. Indeed, what does the word 'sustainable' mean? 

In the context of using natural resources, the term 'sustainable' is still under evolution. It implies keeping demand within the scope of available resources and is a process, not a state. Achieving sustainable use of natural resources means releasing pressure on the global commons while simultaneously improving human wellbeing. As a social entity, businesses are considered closer to being able to deal with the global commons than policy-makers because they directly rely on various natural resources in the products and services they use and deliver. This is reflected in the triple bottom line philosophy where a business not only seeks financial profit, but also holds itself accountable in terms of its social and environmental impact.   

Perhaps we need a new set of metrics beyond economics with which to inform our purchasing decisions? This section will provide some ideas about what those metrics might be and will attempt to provide answers with an emphasis on social aspects and in particular non-monetary (e.g. cultural or social) values.