• Shipra Swaraj

Sustainable Living and its Effects on Business Entities

Sustainable living is a choice we make to intend to reduce environmental damage and offset climate change. It is accommodating our present needs without keeping at stake the ability of future generations to meet their needs.


Segregated waste.

It is a lifestyle that would eliminate the risk of depletion of environmental resources and will allow nature to sustain and flourish. At present, everybody is trying to grow their economy but is growth the answer to the current climate crisis, definitely not.


The answer is sustainable development, an art of living a lifestyle that leads to your growth as well as the sustainability of wildlife and nature. In other words, risk management or a priority of nature over luxury, in which we try to fight global issues like climate change, global warming, rapid growth in carbon footprint, etc.

Four pillars of Sustainable Living


Respect the nature

Reduce the waste

Reuse the reusable

Recycle waste materials

Need for Sustainable Living


Nature puts hundreds of years of work into making a livable place for us, for providing us with everything we need to lead a happy life but because of our excessive greed and thirst to get more than needed we are destroying the beauty of life on earth, as well as the ability of the planet to provide necessary ecosystem services like soil formation, water filtration, clean air, climate regulation and so on. Gradually, the earth's capacity to provide what we need to survive is declining. It is high time that we must understand the choices we make impact the world around us thoroughly.


Due to ecological breakdown, an urgent and immediate action plan is needed. So, we would be able to lead a happy and healthy life while allowing nature to prosper. If only you allow society and wildlife to sustain themselves, businesses can flourish. Our planet is at a crossroads if we didn't make a global move altogether consequences can be serious and in no time we would reach the point of no return.

Some examples of Sustainable Lifestyle


1. Eco-friendly Thanksgiving

Festivals bring together many people which means more enjoyment at more expense. It also leads to an excessive amount of waste discharged which pollutes the environment, makes it look dirty, and spread several infectious diseases. During Thanksgiving, approximately 13 million cards are sold each year. To make those cards 700,000 trees are cut down per year just to be thrown in the dustbin again.


So what we can do is make a menu guided by the principles of sustainable living. Gifts could also be eco-friendly, where one could pack gifts with wrapping papers or use paper bags. That would be eco-friendly as well as creative and would be appreciated.


Thanksgiving pumpkins.

2. Eco-friendly house


Although most people have hopped on the digital train, it is not possible to achieve the purpose of going green without everybody contributing to it. We do not always have to do something big aiming to achieve a goal. Take a little step at a time.


You can start with a reusable coffee cup, create clear air by letting the garden grow, encourage birds, bees, and butterflies to visit your garden by keeping food for them somewhere, choose an environment-friendly shopping list.

3. Prevention of Animal Agriculture


Animal Agriculture is one major source of greenhouse pollution. By curtailment of meat consumption, one can take a significant step toward reducing carbon footprint. Turning into vegetarians would be the best alternative here.

4. Cutting down on electricity in the home


One another way to join the green living evolution is to lower the energy at the home. Unplug appliances when they are not in use. Dry clothes hanging them under the sun. That way your clothes would last longer because your clothes aren't being rolled or stretched like in dryers.


5. Usage of LED lights


We could start using LED lights that are eco-friendly and less costly. By using LED lights we reduce our carbon footprint. Also, LED tubes are reusable and save us some extra money.

There's nothing more sustainable than Energy Focus LED tube technology.

- Mike Somers, VP of Business Development

6. Reduce the usage of vehicles


To avoid producing much carbon footprint and avoid vehicle emissions, we must start walking more and use vehicles as little as possible. Offer a ride to your colleagues and family members more often. Riding a bicycle to go to nearby places.


A couple cycling on the street.

Sustainable Business


A sustainable business is a business approach that has minimal impact on the global or local environment. Such businesses often come up with progressive environmental policies. It's the kind of business we do keep in mind how a business organization operates in the ecological, social and economic environment with an assumption that such strategies foster companies’ longevity.


They manufacture and deliver only environment-friendly products while ensuring a profit in business. A sustainable business must meet the consumer's needs and act around sustainability. It must create value in customers, investors, and everybody relating to the business. And for that, business leaders need to build trust with their people including customers while providing top-notch products that don't compromise with their environmental policies.

Role of Businesses in Sustainability


In an era when every next proprietor is passionate about protecting the environment and trying to be eco-friendly, it is not easy for businesses to survive without putting sustainability at the center of business strategy.

The issue of Climate change has steadily grown over the past two decades. Most businesses understand that their sustained success depends upon the economic, social, and ecological contexts in which they operate. But the stability of those contexts can no longer be taken for granted. The physical environment is becoming more unpredictable, a more interconnected global economy is altering social conditions, and technological innovation is transforming the nature of consumption and production.

Nike and Adidas have both stepped up seriously. Nike has focused on reducing waste and minimizing its footprint, whereas Adidas has created a greener supply chain and targeted specific issues like dyeing and eliminating plastic bags. To respond to the call of climate change, they require a transformed business model guided by all Sustainability principles. Sustainable business models create and leverage an environmental and societal surplus.

How to attain sustainability: For businesses


Businesses must collaborate with customers while bringing about a fundamental transformation in their business models. An amalgamation of strategic business models and sustainable business models is needed. Structuring a risk management strategy while keeping in mind the principles of sustainability is a must.


Adopting the policy of one planet living with a theoretical framework of sustainable business models that would provide guidance and direction towards a shared vision of sustainable Living could be a fair contribution to it. Business managers are expected to treat the issue of green living and societal changes separately from core business operations.


Two people at a thrift store.

The Bedrock of Sustainable Living


1. Mindful consumption


Sustainable groceries, don’t use plastic bags instead use paper bags. Avoid buying plastic-wrapped products, Support fashion brands that are ethical and environmentally conscious.

2. Zero-waste practices


Buy second-hand products where possible like gadgets, clothes, etc.

Use reusable pads or menstrual cups.

Prioritizing the use of natural and renewable resources

By prioritizing the use of natural and renewable resources we can let nature flourish.

If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, refinished, resold, recycled, or composted, then it should be restricted, designed, or removed from production.

- Pete Seeger


Businesses who are using it


Corporations are making significant progress in addressing sustainability. Most large companies now have a statement of social purpose, many are signatories to the UN Global Compact and support the Sustainable Development Goals, many report progress against material quantitative metrics, and some have joined collaborative efforts to tackle existential environmental or societal issues.


Although 90% of corporates talk about sustainable business models, only 60% adopt sustainability. This gap needs to be reduced and corporations should optimize for Both Social and Business Value.

Nike is now focusing on the manufacture of sustainable products featuring materials such as recycled polyester.

In Dec 2020, Nestle, The world's largest food company announced an investment of $3.6 billion to fight climate change. It has made refusing waste its priority and says it reuses and recycles its used products wherever it's possible.


Burt's Bees can be considered a zero-waste organization as it tries to preserve precious resources as well reduce its impact on climate change. Noteworthy, it makes all tubes of lip balms with recycled plastics.


The Walt Disney Company committed in 2009 to achieve net-zero Green House Gas (GHG) emissions. It has also accomplished the target of reducing net GHG emissions by 50 percent relative to 2012 total levels.


Los Angeles skyline during sunset with palm trees.

Honda has taken a vow to reduce co2 emissions by 30% from bikes, automobiles, and power products.

Recently, in 2020 committing to a resource-positive future, Starbucks formalized environmental goals wherein the company aims to cut its carbon, water, and waste footprints by half. Moving forward with its goals of sustainability, the company now commits to Carbon Neutral Green Coffee and conserving water usage in green coffee processing by 50%, both by the 2030s.


Unilever and Nestlé have both taken on major commitments; Unilever notably on organic palm oil and its overall waste and resource footprint, and Nestlé in areas such as product life cycle, climate, water efficiency, and waste.


Walmart and IKEA have moved toward more sustainable retailing, they collaborate across their supply chains to reduce waste, increase resource productivity and optimize material usage.


H&M products are created with consideration for the planet, 50% of each piece is made from sustainable materials like organic cotton or recycled polyester. The only exception is recycled cotton which, for quality reasons, can only make up 20% of a product.


Pepsi and Coca-Cola have both developed ambitious agendas, such as increasing focus on water stewardship and setting targets for water replenishment.


In Biopharma, Biogen and Novo Nordisk are working toward energy efficiency, waste reduction, and other ecological measures. They have also been attentive to the social impact they make via partner initiatives in the areas of health and safety.


Car manufacturers like BMW and Toyota have made strides in energy efficiency and pollution reduction, not to mention Tesla as an outsider is challenging the industry’s overall footprint.


These firms have all made strong commitments to sustainability, in large part through transparency and addressing material issues. They are embarking on a more sustainable journey, and all firms should follow suit over the next decade.


Cost of Green Living


People nowadays are trying to fit into the criteria for a green living lifestyle. A report says, over 65% of Americans are willing to make changes in their lifestyles to make a positive impact on the environment.


In March 2021, China introduced its 14th 5-year plan in which it vowed to focus on green development. India is blessed with a culture that has sustainable living deep-rooted in it. It is where people see the sun, water, fire, and even trees as several deities and worship them. They believe they are the source of power and they are meant to be treated respectfully like a god. However, the cost of sustainable living in modern India is as high as in other places.


Residential buildings with solar panels.

Green living is pricey. Although it has its benefits that are of enormous value it doesn't come cheap. Putting all eco-friendly systems in place could cost you a lot more than expected. Despite the fact it's an investment with return it’s very expensive to properly prepare yourself for a green living lifestyle.


For instance, using solar power can be cost-effective over time, but initially, it will cause you to spend a significant amount of money. Thus, even though it's beneficial in the long run, it requires a heavy investment in the beginning and might cost you an arm and a leg. Another reason why sustainable living is expensive is the unavailability of alternatives to everyday items because there are very few companies producing them.


Most companies don't want to put their businesses at risk by allowing themselves to adopt a brand-new trend that has not set its foot on the ground yet. It's a huge risk alongside a lot of investment since they will need to change their business models which also requires a great deal of patience and hard work. However, many business entities have adopted a sustainable business model.

Sustainability work is to give back more than we take

- says Anirban Ghosh, the Chief Sustainability Officer at the Mahindra Group, in an interview.


Hurdles


With power comes great responsibility which makes you accountable for your action.


However, It is a sort of relief to see now people are growing more aware and moving forward toward a sustainable lifestyle but there are a few barriers to sustainable living which we need to overcome.


They are of the view that sustainable living is inexpensive and that there is a huge misconception about that lifestyle.

Social media depicts a wrong image of Sustainable living.


We have been manipulated by disinformation intended to mislead us and it spreads faster than reliable articles.


Business entities and Consumers, both are indispensable and need to come together. Lack of interest in one can lead to sincere damage to another.


However, a report says, some people prefer sustainable living over the traditional way of living. Their financial worries made them thrifty, so the need to indulge themselves in sustainable living came out naturally.

Challenges for Businesses


Although most companies have adopted Sustainability, some companies still lag and need to move forward with it. On the one hand, the framework of Sustainability provides us guidance on how to live well within the limits of our planet while ensuring a healthy life in the future. On the other hand, it comes up with certain challenges for business.


Companies must identify the right framework and come up with a good sustainability strategy.

Companies must identify risks and opportunities coming along with a new business model inclined towards sustainability which would encourage climate adaptation.


Companies must create a demand for products promoting sustainability to avoid the risk of failure.


Senior citizens watering plants in a community garden.

Conclusion


It is even harder but vital for developing countries like India, Colombia, or Nigeria to be more sustainable. Problems aren't arising only for business entities but for the consumers who are expected to buy products promoting sustainability in living as well.


We have given in to that easy living and now are used to a pleasant lifestyle. Sustainable living appears expensive also because it would imply purchasing a lot of ethical products. Usually, fashion items might cost 10 times more than sustainable living promoting products but for now, new trendy zero-waste accessories will be costlier.


We have come a long way, yet, we need to be consistent to attain the goal of green living. And there's no better time than now to act on it.


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Shipra Swaraj is a Political Science graduate from Patna University, in India. She is also a content writer and activist at the International Youths Organization for Peace and Sustainability.


Inputs and Edits by Aswin Raghav R.