How To Make Your Business More Sustainable & Eco-Friendly

Consumers are more conscious of the importance of sustainability than ever before. With the debate over climate change, sustainability and the environment taking precedent, here are ways you can make your business more sustainable & eco-friendly.

The world we live in is changing. As the debate over climate change, sustainability and the environment grows ever louder, the demand for corporations to take ownership and change for the better have become stiflingly clear.

According to a study done by Eco-Matcher, changes in consumer demand are beginning to affect corporate bottom lines as consumers are becoming increasingly more conscious of the importance of sustainability practices. Consumers now expect absolute transparency when it comes to their products, company ethics and much more.

Additionally, millennials are willing to pay a premium for products and services that are regarded as sustainable or from socially and environmentally responsible organisations.

According to a global consumer survey by Unilever, there is a $1 trillion market opportunity for businesses that highlight their sustainability endeavours.

Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, leaders from across the globe at the United Nations came together and unanimously agreed on 17 goals that would create a better world by 2030. These goals covered a myriad of topics, such as eradicating poverty and hunger, inequality and climate change.

These 17 UNSDGs became the rubric that the majority of conglomerates around the world follow to aid in their sustainability and governance goals.

17 sustainable development goals that helps to create better world

Where Do I Start? Self-Evaluation

Remembering all 17 sustainable development goals is no easy feat. To help aid in this process, the United Nations Foundation has created an intertwined framework known as the ‘5 Ps’, which stand for People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership in which all existing SDGs fit into. These five pillars are presented as such and have been allocated the following goals.

The five pillars of allocated the all 17 sustainable development goals

The UNSDGs are global agendas, while there are global movements that promote corporate adoption of the SDGs. The most effective way for corporate adoption of SDGs is to integrate the Goals and underlying global targets into the corporate business model. Here, a variety of systems thinking and social innovation techniques will be required.

To follow a route that ultimately aids in the betterment of the planet, the economy and your workforce, one must internally evaluate how the business could possibly create an impact at scale. For many businesses, only a few UNSDGs could be genuinely relevant. Instead of attempting to map every SDG to the philanthropic activities that a company does - which isn't necessarily wrong - businesses are suggested to focus on only a few SDGs that could make a difference at scale through existing assets and business models.

This is not as difficult as one might think. Using TEC as an example, below are the SDGs that we are focusing on:

GoalLevel of relevance for TECExplanation
8 – Decent Work and Economic GrowthHighOur business nature is about promoting business success in local markets, unlocking job opportunities.
9 – Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureHighWe support members’ access to innovative ideas and technologies for business growth.
11 – Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesHighFlexible workspaces are a more carbon-efficient option for business growth.
12 – Responsible Consumption and ProductionHighWe are a massive user of office furniture in the region, and we demonstrate how we could save unwanted furniture from landfills.
13 – Climate ActionHighWe and our Members contribute to climate change. We all play a part in supporting the world to limit global warming by aggressively cutting down our carbon footprint.
3 – Good Health and Well-beingModerateSome diseases and health risks are a result of improper workspace management. Therefore, we have a role in demonstrating how a workplace that fosters wellbeing should look like.

What Can I Do?

It’s important to remember that sustainability is not limited to multi-national and well-established enterprises. Any business, budding entrepreneur, or individual employee can practice sustainability in the workplace and create a positive impact.

Through events and partnerships, we encourage our members and other businesses to adopt the UNSDG by:

4 – Quality EducationBusinesses can uptake mentorship/internship opportunities for the underprivileged.
5 – Gender Equality
11 – Reduced inequalities
Businesses can look into their operations and services to see if there are any discrimination risks and opportunities for female empowerment.
16 – Peace, Justice and Strong InstitutionsWe promote awareness around business ethics and human rights across our Member community.

As an individual, here are a few initiatives that one can do to make a sustainable impact on their workplace:

Recycle Waste – Be the one to establish a recycling program within your office and with your building management. Provide education material to help your colleagues distinguish various forms of waste.

Reduce Paperwork – With advancements in technology, opt for digital or cloud-storage solutions to not only streamline collaboration and efficiency amongst co-workers but cut down on unsustainable materials such as printer ink, paper and plastic.

Support Green Partners – Look into transitioning to eco-friendly or ethically responsible vendors. Be sure to research if these companies align with your company ethos or your personal vision/values.

Commute Sustainably – Incentivise employees to take alternative, more environmentally friendly modes of transportation. Should your company adopt a hybrid work model, consider allocating more employees to work remotely either via a closer flexible workspace centre to their home or to work from home occasionally.

Find Sustainability Certifications And Initiatives To Join – Show your stakeholders and consumers that your organisation is doing more than just ‘green-washing’. Showcase legitimate green business credentials such as Green C and B Corp Sustainability certificates or regional initiatives that promote the advancement of social issues.

If you would like to understand how your company can effectively contribute to the UNSDG, feel free to reach out to TEC’s in-house sustainability consultant via TEC-Sustainability@executivecentre.com.

Should you have any ideas, recommendations, partnership opportunities or queries regarding our Environmental Social Governance initiatives at TEC, please email us at communications@executivecentre.com.