For some companies, sustainability is a core tenet of their mission. At Patagonia, it’s so important that their home page leads with "30 by 30 resolution to protect nature"; an effort to protect 30% of the world's lands and waters by 2030. For Unilever, the "Planet and Society" tab is prominently positioned front and center on their home page. Click it and you'll find an extensive set of policies and bold goals, like "Today's throwaway culture must end. We're working to keep waste in the economy and out of the environment." Past Patagonia and Unilever, more and more businesses are taking steps to reduce their impact on the environment through reduced emissions, more sustainable packaging, and other pledges.
The straightforward incentive to pursue sustainable practices is that the world depends on it. Climate change is affecting every part of the globe, right now, in plain sight. Plastic waste affects us all, as the smallest organisms digest microplastics, and those plastics work their way up the food chain. Analysis by the World Wildlife Fund estimates that we're each gobbling up about a credit card's worth of plastic (5 grams) each week. And this past month, research from Dr. Shanna Swan revealed that penises are shrinking, genitals are becoming malformed, and sperm counts are reduced because of exposure to chemicals in plastic. For those businesses that have yet to take action, is "Stop the shrinkage" the rallying cry they've been waiting for?
Recognizing that many businesses may need a push to prioritize sustainability, we conducted research to determine if there was a business case for doing so. Forgetting all good causes, we simply wanted to know if businesses could make more money if they prioritized sustainability. The short answer is YES, DEFINITELY. Today, let's consider just one aspect of this - not losing customers.
Over a third of Americans notice when businesses have wasteful or environmentally harmful practices. Twenty percent are actively boycotting businesses or looking for alternatives. When asked what they perceive as wasteful, Americans cited four major areas: pollution, food waste, excessive packaging/shipping materials, and excessive use of plastic.
We recognize that growth is the metric by which businesses are assessed. With competitive pressure on all sides, demanding shareholders and investors, and rising costs of raw materials, that all important year over year growth is difficult enough to achieve. However, neglecting sustainability sets your business up against a headwind that’s only getting stronger. With twenty percent of your customers looking to avoid doing business with unsustainable companies, isn’t it time to prioritize reducing your impact?
If you're interested in learning more, visit http://finn-group.com/environment for a copy of our sustainability research.