If you ask most people about what it means to be sustainable, they’ll probably give you an answer about not being wasteful or polluting the environment. While those are both true and important aspects of sustainability, the term encompasses much more.
Sustainability is a way of thinking and acting that applies to businesses, organizations, communities, and individuals. It’s a commitment to practices that are good for people and the planet now and into the future. To help you identify a truly sustainable company, here is a list of what makes companies sustainable:
1. Continuously Seeks To Reduce Environmental Footprint
One of the most important aspects of a sustainable company is its continuous pursuit of reducing its environmental footprint. This will include reducing their use of non-renewable resources, their use of water, and the amount of waste they produce. If a company isn’t continually seeking to reduce its environmental footprint, they aren’t prioritizing sustainability.
At the most basic level, a truly sustainable company will have an environmental policy that lays out its commitment to environmental stewardship and details how it will achieve this. The environmental policy will include goals for reducing the company’s overall environmental footprint, increasing the use of renewable resources, and reducing their use of non-renewable resources.
2. Industry Leader in Creating a More Sustainable Society
Another key aspect of a sustainable company is striving to become an industry leader in creating a more sustainable society. This means they will strive to show their customers and the greater society how they can reduce their environmental footprint and live more sustainably.
A truly sustainable company will lead the charge towards creating a more sustainable world by promoting sustainable practices amongst their customers and using their influence to create change in their communities.
3. Uses Renewable/Recycled Resources
Another characteristic of a truly sustainable company is that it uses renewable resources as much as possible and uses recycled or repurposed materials wherever possible. They also only use materials that have been ethically sourced and don’t engage in practices that are harmful to people or the environment.
4. Thinks Long-term First
One of the biggest differences between a truly sustainable company and a company that is just interested in reducing its environmental footprint is that sustainable companies will focus on the long-term effects of their decisions and actions.
In contrast, unsustainable companies may be focused on making their quarterly earnings goals and will do anything necessary to achieve those short-term goals, even if it means hurting their long-term sustainability goals. A sustainable company will first consider what is best for its customers, the environment, and employees. Only after those needs are met will they begin to focus on their financial goals.
5. Committed to Transparency
A sustainable company will be completely transparent about its environmental, financial, and business practices. They will also be transparent about their operations, goals, and values with their customers and the general public. If a company doesn’t want to disclose information about itself, they likely aren’t committed to transparency.
The Bottom Line: What Makes Companies Sustainable
At the end of the day, a truly sustainable company will be better for people, the environment, and its bottom line. Sustainable companies will have strong financials and will be able to thrive for many years to come. Sustainable companies will also be able to operate in an ethical manner that respects and benefits all parties involved. Although sustainability is always in progress and never fully achieved, striving towards this goal is a worthwhile investment for any company wanting to create a more sustainable future.
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