Sustainability is becoming more than just a box to tick. It is now a necessary consideration to running a business today. Not just because consumer demand for ‘planet-friendly’ brands is increasing rapidly, but also because, well, we do have a planet to save! But how do you remain competitive and become a more sustainable business without having to rethink your entire strategy, your product offering and invest huge amounts of your budget?

It’s no lie that in becoming more sustainable, there is a cost of entry. But given consumer preference towards brands that are doing good, it’s actually a smart, long-term investment.

A global study of 600k millennials found that 73% are willing to pay more for sustainability. Read: people will pay more for brands and services that are trying to make the world a better place.

And there are some simple, low-cost ways to get started:

 

Sustainability is for everybody 

We’re not just talking vegan food brands, and slow fashion here, every single business, whether you are a web developer or a fitness instructor can be thinking about sustainable practices that reduce our footprint on the earth. Maybe your industry isn’t as progressive in thinking about ways to be sustainable – you can be the one who starts the shift. Talk about it and become known for it amongst your competitors, partners and consumers.

 

Shout about what you’re already doing

If you’ve already started on your sustainability journey – great! It IS a journey. None of us has this ‘sustainability’ thing nailed yet. While it sounds like a big, intimidating word, don’t wait to talk about what you’re doing, as every step towards being more planet-friendly counts. Your audience wants to know you’re simply making efforts on what is a long journey to define what sustainability really looks like for our planet. They can’t fault you for your efforts when none of us are doing it perfectly yet. 

As well-known beauty journalist Sali Hughes shared; “industry experts at a recent sustainability conference told me, again and again: we don’t have time to wait for perfect, or for people to reject all the conveniences of modern life. It is more important to do something now than nothing at all, to our later cost. Maybe you haven’t gone so far as Google and employed grazing goats as a low carbon approach to lawn maintenance, but the fact you have chosen a renewable energy provider is worth sharing.”

 

Research your partners and suppliers

You might not have the option to switch suppliers right now, and you may have limitations on who you can work with. But there are lots of new businesses cropping up every day offering more sustainable alternatives. Keep an eye on who can support your business needs, from the fundamentals in your supply chain to the accounting firm you work with, to your internet provider. Some will be doing more than others and can help shape the future for your brand. Remember, who you partner with is as much a reflection on your business as who you are.  

 

Be a leader

Sustainability starts with us. As founders and business leaders, we already know no-one is going to do it for us. We have to be leading this new way of doing things. We have to be prepared to fight against the tide and not take the easy way (though that’s easy to say!). But by working together, we CAN move to a new way of doing things. One that doesn’t put profitability above people and planet, but instead understands that financial and social ROI can be one, and in fact, integrating the two is just smart business. Paul Polman, former Unilever CEO said, “We cannot choose between growth and sustainability – we must have both.”

 

Start from the inside 

If you encourage sustainable practices on a daily basis from yourself and your team, sustainable ways of doing business will simply be the norm and will percolate through to your wider audience. Eliminate plastic water bottles from the office or send every employee a reusable branded company water bottle to their home office. Create some healthy competition internally and challenge everyone to reduce food waste for a week and report back on their success. If a major corporation like Sky can remove all plastic from their office, supply chain and product lines, we can all take some first steps to save our planet.

 

Start today

It is easy to cast aside the idea of bringing sustainable practices into your daily business if your business isn’t one based on sustainability at its core (like ours). But we are featuring brands and services on our Bagboard marketplace (which you can shop from using the money off rewards you earn when you carry our eco-friendly paper bags promoting other planet-friendly brands) who are making efforts towards sustainability. To us, we have observed in selecting these partners, that the first step is often the most important, as it means a commitment to bettering your sustainable footprint as a business from here on. Commit to making one change today towards more sustainable business practices and others will fall into place, with planet-friendly simply becoming the way you do business.

Ashleigh Bishop

Ashleigh Bishop

About your author

 

Ashleigh Bishop is the Co-CEO of sustainable reward program Bagboard, who joined her long time schoolmate to found the company after he easily convinced her that disrupting the advertising industry (while at the time she was employed by a major agency in this very industry) is the future.

To find out more about Bagboard and how they are striving to make sustainable shopping more accessible, head over to their website and make sure you follow them on Instagram. You can also follow Ashleigh here.

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