Article, Sustainable Business

Why (and how) all businesses should embrace sustainability

Feb 18, 2020
Austin Langlois
Contributing Author
Austin Langlois
Contributing Author

Sustainability is more than just a buzzword, and environmentally friendly products and recycled packaging materials is more than just a trend. It’s a serious move companies are making to not only protect our planet’s natural resources but also to appeal to more eco-minded consumers.

In the past few years, we’ve seen many companies make the shift toward more sustainable business practices, like eliminating plastic straws and plastic packaging, there’s more work behind the scenes that must happen for a company to embrace sustainability truly.

We could reference past blog posts or startling statistics (like 91% of plastic is not recycled) to demonstrate the need to protect our planet -- but what’s really making a societal shift is that customers are demanding that companies change how they do business. They are more critical than ever about wasteful packaging, supply chain and ingredient/material sourcing. 

Why is sustainability important for businesses?

It’s better for the planet! But we get it – you want some stats on how it’ll affect your bottom line. 

According to a Nielsen’s The Evolution of the Sustainability Mindset report, “81% of global respondents feel strongly that companies should help improve the environment;” it’s a mindset that’s strongly supported across all age brackets, not just the younger generations.

“Facing rapid urbanization and a growing disparity between classes, many people in emerging markets are experiencing the harsh reality of pollution in this post-modern industrial age,” said Regan Leggett, Nielsen’s executive director of thought leadership and foresight for global markets, in the report. “As a result, sustainability has become an urgent opportunity for companies to connect with consumers who are excited about change.”

A Hotwire 2019 survey found that “47% of internet users worldwide said they had switched to a different product or service because a company violated their personal values” – and protecting the environment was the no. 1 reason on the list of why consumers switched. 

Ways to incorporate sustainability into your business

There are many different areas of your business to incorporate more environmentally sensitive business practices into your day-to-day operations. Below are a few thought starters to get your creative juices flowing.

Environmentally Sensitive Marketing

Simple swaps in materials and changes in marketing tactics can be an easy way to make a positive environmental impact. Some ideas include business cards printed on recycled paper with recycled ink (or even better, no business cards!); swapping out branded plastic pens for branded seed paper bookmarks; and choosing digital formats (billboards, ads, etc) instead of printed signage.

Sustainable Supply Chain

The most significant changes in your business come from big moves in supply chain and sourcing. Whether you’re a manufacturer or a retailer – being more conscious about who you source from, how suppliers conduct business and logistics (shipping, transportation, etc.) is critical. For example, at Boxed Water, we only work with paper mills who source paper from sustainably managed forests; we ship our cartons flat (every truck of Boxed Water is the same volume as 26 plastic water trucks); and we use municipal water sources instead of drilling our own. These (and other) supply chain efforts result in a 64% lower carbon footprint and 43% less fossil fuel use than plastic water bottles.

Partnerships 

Strategic partnerships can also be a great way to make a positive planet impact. Whether it’s partnering with a nonprofit organization to support their work or collaborating with a company with similar values – it’s a great way to spread the green love and get your customers involved. At Boxed Water, we do both. We partner with a variety of organizations (like planting trees with the National Forest Foundation or cleaning beaches with Ocean Blue Project) and we partner with other sustainably minded companies (like Everlane, Hotel Palms and Free People. This is also something you can implement internally with your employees, like partnering with a local organization for an employee beach or highway clean-up.

Update your mission statement

After you’ve made the changes above, your mission statement is an effective way to underscore your company values to your customers and partners. Adjusting your mission to include your planet-first ethos can be a nice way also to keep everyone internally focused on making more environmentally friendly choices in the future.

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