In order to sell to the largest audience, companies around the world analyze consumer trends and design marketing tactics to appeal to what consumers care about on any given week. Supply and demand rules company business practices, and when a majority of communities begin to only purchase sustainable goods, companies must adjust to keep their customer base.
In the last 50 years, climate change has evolved from a new concern to a societal and political debate about the extent to which consumers are responsible for the health of the planet. As the consequences of climate change loom over the newest generations, corporations are changing their business models to adapt to sustainable development practices in an attempt to stay relevant and keep their sales up.
Although the U.S. government functions as a two-party system and doesn’t have to worry about the limitations that come with a green party that creates legislation for corporations to follow, its capitalist economy controls corporate decisions. As more hype surrounds climate change and global warming, more people begin to care about the way their day-to-day decisions and purchases affect the planet.
In order to reduce the amount of guilt they may cause their customers, companies begin to market themselves as sustainable businesses who are making changes to be more eco-friendly. Although these changes may be small, they can have a big impact, especially when the changes are being made by large international corporations.
Ultimately, changes aimed toward creating more sustainable business practices also share the benefit of improving public health because of the effects climate change has on public health issues. Global warming is recognized as a contributor to the increased frequency of natural disasters that we experience, as well as the undernutrition of vulnerable populations and food scarcity. Our eco-systems are sensitive, and when the temperature of the oceans change by a couple degrees or our water resources become polluted, a whole slew of consequences may occur. We are at the mercy of what this planet has to offer, and when we don’t take care of its ecosystems, it won’t be able to take care of us.
When companies have a good management and marketing team, they’re often able to understand the benefits of incorporating sustainable practices, even if the adoption of them can be a little costly. Ultimately, the cost of adopting sustainable practices is a small price to pay for reducing a company’s contribution to global warming, especially because most companies will likely end up making the change sooner rather than later — doing it now just means your company will get a head start on the competition. Whether or not companies actually care about the environment, the decision to be more sustainable reflects positively on the company.
Benefits of Sustainable Practices
Not only do sustainable practices attract customers and investors, they also appeal to the government, which offers tax breaks for companies that adopt sustainable business practices. As sustainability climbs up the priority ladder, the number of reasons to become more eco-friendly increase as well. These benefits serve as a gentle push for corporations to change their practices, but eventually, being eco-conscious won’t be as much of a personal decision for corporations.
There is a lot of waste created during the production of consumer goods, as sustainable practices can sometimes take extra time or money to execute. However, circular economies, like those in the European Union, reuse twice as much plastic as the U.S. because of the priority they place on minimizing waste and creating long-term designs for products. Circular economies are regenerative systems that place a great emphasis on recycling, and are a model for sustainable business practices.
Depending on the product or service your company offers, lean supply chains are also a an efficient and popular way to reduce waste. They minimize defects in products and get rid or products with obvious defects as they will only waste time and resources, avoid excess inventory, overproduction and staff wait-time, and consult their staff for more efficient ways to get the work done. By looking closely into the supply chain and where it can be improved, you company can not only become more sustainable, but save on production costs as well.
Although there are many benefits to transition into a more sustainable business, some companies are unlikely to adopt these practices until they are forced to either by law, or because these limited resources will eventually become too expensive — simply run out. Tax breaks and marketing benefits make it easier for companies to make sustainable changes.
Although some consumers are more likely to support businesses who truly seem to believe in sustainability, others simply need enough of an attempt to not have their purchases weigh on their conscience. Whether their sustainable practices are for noble or cost-effective reasons, companies’ interest in sustainable development continues to grow and develop into practices that may one day save the planet.