Why Should I Care About Sustainability?
In modern life, particularly in western countries, it is nearly impossible to avoid the talk of sustainability. Even if you don’t choose to participate yourself, the conversation goes on around you with talk of banning plastic straws, the switch to renewable energy, and the removal of plastic carrier bags from supermarkets.
The vast majority of people do agree that something does need to be done. And although some people are of the opinion that there isn’t a problem, the majority of debate is now more relating to how fast humans should be taking action to stop and reverse the effects of climate change.
So why should we, as both organisations and consumers be concerned about sustainability?
What is Sustainability?
Sustainability is a topic that is not new, but may have gone by other names in the past. During World War II sustainability was called “make do and mend”, and was primarily focused on ensuring that scarce resources were preserved as much as possible to ensure that the population could continue to eat, heat their homes, and continue to travel.
Since the human understanding of climate change has advanced, the drive for sustainability amongst law makers, activists and the wider population has grown. Much of the focus has been on reducing the creation of waste and reduction in the production of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2). This has been through a drive to cut down on unnecessary commuting, using more energy efficient cars, machinery and consumer devices, and limiting the waste of energy by turning off equipment when it’s not in use.
Sustainability can also cover the ethical standards of the production methods used, for example in clothing and textiles manufacturing, the use of closed loop water systems is seen as a more sustainable method of production as it reduces the amount of toxic chemicals that can leak into the water table, and ultimately the food chain. It can also cover how humans are treated in the supply chain, whether they are paid treated and fairly, and work under reasonable conditions.
Generally, sustainability is the process of behaving responsibly in the way we treat the environment and each other, not wasting resources unnecessarily and finding ways to cut down on pollution.
Why Should I Care About Sustainability?
There are many reasons why you and your organisation should care about sustainability, even those that are sceptical about it can be sold due to the direct and indirect benefits
Acting Sustainably Can Save Money
If you are not particularly interested in the moral arguments about not wasting resources and treating people fairly, and you don’t believe the overwhelming majority of scientific evidence that shows climate change is affected by humans and poses a risk to their existence, then there are still reasons for caring.
Sustainability can often save money, running more efficient equipment, vehicles and machinery cuts down your energy usage and therefore costs. Switching to more energy efficient lighting can cut lighting costs by as much as 90%, whilst delivering comparable levels of light. Maximising the use of materials and reducing waste helps to save on material usage, and therefore saves costs. In the case of our recycled clothing, excess organic cotton from the production of other garments is used in their manufacturing.
It Can Benefit Your Brand
Research carried out by Cone Inc shows that 79% of consumers would switch to brands that are associated with good causes. This can been seen in practice, with products like coffee, bananas, chocolate and gold all bearing the Fairtrade Foundation logo as a way to demonstrate the product and the brand’s sustainable credentials. Purchasing these products, and others like Fairtrade Clothing is a great way for businesses to very easily improve the sustainability of their purchasing practices.
Conversely, not acting sustainably can have the opposite effect on your brand. Those that are seen to be behaving badly can be shunned by consumers who see irresponsible behaviour an unacceptable attribute of the businesses they buy from. This has been seen by many consumer boycotts and activist campaigns such as the action taken against Shell and Lego by Greenpeace, and the public protests against companies like Vodafone.
It Can Contribute To Your Survival
The absolute worst case scenario in climate change predictions is that the planet could warm to an extent that the survival of the human race is put at risk. If you take this to be true, or a high enough of a risk that you feel you need to act, then acting sustainability can help to protect the lives of you, your staff and your customers. Without those things, you won’t have a business any more, so acting sustainably will help to ensure it can continue to prosper for years to come.
It is clear to see that there are benefits of acting sustainably regardless to whether you are completely sold on the overwhelming evidence that climate change poses a risk to our planet and to us. Acting sustainably will help to save costs, be more efficient, provide opportunities to attract new customers and to protect our future.
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