By now, every business should aspire to be more sustainable, but getting started is easier said than done. What are some practical steps to take towards sustainability, and how can you fast-track the process if you’re playing catch-up?
We asked real-world executives how they’re speeding up their sustainability efforts, and they revealed some useful insights that we’ll share today.
Step 1: Perform a Sustainability Audit
“Just as you would audit your finances or team workflows, you can audit your business for sustainability fairly quickly to see where you’re falling short. There are online resources like checklists you can use to get started, or you can hire professional consultants to do a more thorough assessment. It’s definitely worth the money if you are clueless on sustainability in general.” – James Ville, Chief Product Officer at GunSkins
“When you perform a sustainability audit, you might be shocked at what you find. Things like energy consumption are a top priority, but also look at things like supplies, renewable resources, and more. Like all things in business, you’ll get as much value from an audit as you put in.” – Hector Gutierrez, CEO of JOI
“Most companies are confused on the subject of sustainability because they just haven’t put in the research up front. Take your time to read the relevant materials online, bring in a third-party person to help you out, and do a full audit of your situation. This will shed light on so much and clear away any confusion from the start.” – Shaun Price, Head of Customer Acquisition at MitoQ
Step 2: Make Small Sacrifices
“It’s so easy to get started on a sustainability initiative if you have a blueprint to work with. You’re likely missing out on major efficiency boosts if you have an office or a communal workspace. The best part is that you don’t have to put in a ton of extended effort – just commit to a plan and stick with it.” – Michael Hennessy, Founder and CEO of Diathrive
“Just remember when you throw things away, there is no such thing as ‘away’. When we throw anything away, it must go somewhere.” – Annie Leonard, Executive Director of Greenpeace
“Office equipment, kitchen and restroom supplies, lighting stuff – these are things in your control, and there is always a more sustainable way to manage them. It might feel like a sacrifice or an adjustment at first, but you’ll quickly get accustomed to new policies and products. Plus, the feeling of making a difference is definitely worth it.” – Matthew Mundt, CEO and Founder of Hug Sleep
Step 3: Get Employees Involved
“People hear about sustainability initiatives and may be hesitant to jump on board. It’s way easier for everyone to be on the same page when it’s organization-wide. Nobody should feel left out, and nobody should take on a disproportionate amount of pressure or responsibility. These things work best when the effort is equal and even.” – Dylan Arthur Garber, Co-Founder of Audien Hearing
“Any way you can boost employee engagement is a bonus, in my mind. Sustainability is one of those rare things that has a positive impact on engagement, the environment, and the long-term viability of your company. The list of pros far outweighs the cons in almost every case. Get started ASAP!” – Riley Burke, Growth Marketing Manager, Ohza Mimosas
“All managers and execs know that employee cooperation is vital for any initiative. Whether it’s sustainability, accountability, or anything else – you need everyone on board from square one for it to work. Be clear with your communication to make sure the entire company is working together on sustainability, rather than just one department or a handful of individuals.” – Lori Price, Co-Founder of Pixie Lane
Step 4: Set Bigger Goals and Targets
“Water usage, waste and pollution, energy consumption – these are the key metrics you should be looking at and striving to improve each quarter. Treat it just like any other element of your business. When you hit your targets, move the goalposts and keep trying to achieve more. That’s how monumental change can happen.” – Ben Thompson, CEO of Hardwood Bargains
“It’s a matter of slow and steady progression when navigating sustainability projects. I encourage everyone to start small, but be ready to ramp things up in the following months and years. Make it a part of the culture and set ambitious targets that encourage everyone to participate. Improvements will be gradual at first but compound quickly thereafter.” – Rachel Jones, Head of Public Relations at Hope Health Supply
“When you make changes and see results in terms of energy usage or carbon footprints, it’s a very rewarding feeling. However, you can’t become complacent and stop pushing yourself to achieve more in terms of sustainability. You can always go the extra mile, and once you’ve got momentum, you won’t want to slow down.” – Lauren Kleinman, Co-Founder of The Quality Edit
Step 5: Make Sustainability a Part of Brand Identity
“If we want to move towards a sustainable society with low pollution, we need to get people to think about their purchases. Be the type of company to set a positive trend with your products and messaging.” – David Suzuki, Scientist and Activist
“There’s no denying that an eco-friendly position is a huge marketing advantage right now. Of course, you want to be as authentic as possible when waving the green flag for your brand. Actually commit to sustainability goals and follow through, then share your achievements with your audience to get the most benefits.” – Seb Evans, Co-Founder of Banquist
“Use your sustainability projects to strengthen company culture and the identity of your brand. It shows that you’re responsible and aware of issues that real people care about on a global level. That can only help the way your company is perceived by the public.” – Mike Pasley, Founder of Allegiant Goods
There is no cookie-cutter approach to sustainability – every company must follow its own path. Still, this blueprint should get your sustainability game plan up and running, and on the fast track to success.