The UN’s most recent climate change report represents some painful reading. Scientists now believe that it is increasingly likely that we’ll see the effects of climate change within a generation, with mass food shortages and wildfires part of the symptoms of a very serious problem. It’s not just our grandchildren we should be worrying about.
Fortunately, we’re seeing positive movements from major companies around the world. The ‘Nissan Green Program’, for example, is using wind and biogas to radically reduce the company’s carbon footprint. Other industries that are embracing the shift towards renewables include cement manufacturing, which is experimenting with fuel blends, while the valve manufacturing industry is responding by adapting their valves to new technical requirements.
Most people believe that going green is an ethical move that costs companies money. Saving the planet comes at a price, is the common idea. But this is a misconception; opting for the sustainable path has many benefits for businesses, and they’re not just financial.
Change before you’re forced to
Governments are mobilizing against climate change. Small businesses in the United States are already being offered financial incentives for making energy-efficient choices, while the UK has similar initiatives with its Non-Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). We predict that going green will soon not be a choice, however. Instead, it’s going to be a tick you’ll have to check in order to do business.
If you opt for making sustainable changes slowly and over time, your company will be able to absorb the costs and change accordingly. Wait until it’s forced upon you and your business will struggle. Be an early adopter of sustainable energy sources and you’ll be ahead of the curve.
Going green provides positive publicity
When big companies start making changes towards sustainability, we tend to hear about it. Toyota’s announcement that it is aiming to reduce emissions by 90% received significant publicity, with news outlets applauding the company’s efforts to go green. In 2015, the fact that thirteen major brands signed the White House’s climate change pledge (including Google and Coca-Cola) was plastered across every front page of the internet. In short, reducing carbon emissions will get your company some positive headlines.
Don’t want to change your negative attitude towards Mother Earth? You may want to think twice, considering that typing “worst companies for the environment” will yield almost 100 million results on Google. In other words, resisting the green movement will get you some terrible publicity.
Customers want to buy from eco-friendly brands
Companies that don’t invest in eco-friendly solutions run the risk of losing business. The numbers don’t lie; a 2015 Nielsen report, which surveyed over 30,000 respondents, showed that over 66% of consumers would be willing to pay that little bit more for a ‘green’ brand. To put this into perspective, the 2013 edition of the same report had this figure at just over 50%.
The upward trajectory is clear.
Millennials in particular are putting social impact and transparency at the forefront of their ‘wants’ from their brands. Customers don’t just want a superior product, but they also want to know that their purchases are not harming the environment.
Employees care about your CSR commitments
Employees don’t just care about their paycheck or their work-life balance. They also want to work for companies that are socially responsible, and this includes their environmental practices.
According to a recent employee engagement study 58% of respondents will heavily consider their potential employer’s environmental track record before working there. Perhaps more significant, however, is that 55% of employees will take a lower salary if it means working for a socially responsible company. If you want to attract and keep the best talent, the message is clear: go green or risk the quality of your workforce.
Sustainable business = profitable business
In 2013, The Guardian ran a report which demonstrated that going green and increasing profits often go hand-in-hand. M&S, a leading department store in the United Kingdom, projected a £200m cost in the first five years of its “Plan A” sustainability program. What they got instead was a £105m boost to their coffers.
The reason companies are starting to see an aligned curve is that going green changes companies in several significant ways. The prevention of physical waste leads to an end of economic waste. Going green involves doing more with less, which in turn helps companies to become leaner and more efficient.