Being environmentally friendly, or at least being seen to be, is a growing priority with lots of businesses these days. Luckily being green is gaining momentum.
There’s been a growing awareness in recent years about what it actually means for a business to be “green”. And it’s a dual awareness that covers business efficiency and environmental impact.
Essentially businesses are talking about sustainability. Often without even knowing it.
So what does that mean? Well, among other commercial priorities, like ensuring business continuity and managing their risk, it means that businesses are now realising that environmental sustainability can have a big an impact on the bottom line. And it turns out they aren’t necessarily competing objectives – being eco friendly and turning a buck.
Achieving a sustainable green outcome can also lead to a sustainable commercial outcome.
For those businesses not really committed, at a philosophical level, to responsible environmental practices, this is very good news. Going through the motions and putting in place a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program need not be a matter of ‘green-washing’ to appease the tree-huggers. Environmental sustainability can actually be very good business. Financially. And not just from a PR perspective. There’s enough evidence to turn the hardest cynics into sustainability believers.
Focus Press can speak with some authority about this, because we’ve actually done it.
A bit about sustainability
Sustainability is one of those trendy buzz words that’s often thrown around but more often than not it’s with little understanding of what it actually means. The Latin the word is based on means ‘to hold up from below’. Most dictionaries say something like ‘the ability to continue without risk of failure or collapse’. Another view is to think of it as meeting the needs of the present without ruining the ability to meet future needs.
In business terms, an organisation that has control of costs, cash flow, product development, sales and marketing, good processes for managing demand and opportunities for growth could be thought of as sustainable. It should keep on as a going concern.
In environmental terms, sustainability implies that an action can be continued indefinitely with little, or at least a manageable, impact on the environment.
As a green concept this has surprisingly been around since the 1700s. Surprisingly close to home for Focus Press, it all began with logging in Europe when foresters realised that timber needed to be managed with more care, and that if they continued with their current practices, the forest would disappear. So they changed them to make them sustainable and planted more trees. Ironically this is a battle that’s still being fought today, with FSC and PEFCprograms at the pointy end of the fight.
The funny thing is sustainability doesn’t have to mean making a sacrifice. By eliminating waste in materials and processes, by better recycling, by increasing the useful lifetime of equipment and installing new technology, a business can reduce its energy needs and cut operational budgets. Those are efficiency gains. That goes to the bottom line.
There’s theory, and then there’s the real-world where this has to be put into practice. Let’s look at a few ways that Focus Press has accomplished the dual benefits of achieving environmental and cost savings goals, and created a more sustainable business.