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Investing in a sustainable future is better business

Sustainability is trending. The world’s pollution problem is snowballing – but so is public awareness and action around the issue – and the demand for more sustainable and environmentally friendly products is on an upward movement around the globe.

In this day and age, with a higher knowledge of what affects our planet, people are leaning towards purchasing products and services that have Mother Earth’s best interests at heart. We are seeing big and small brands across Australia and New Zealand uniting with the rest of the world in challenging environmental issues and making ecological decisions to better the world.

But some businesses have been slow to make the move, with the interests of profitability conflicting with the interests of the planet. This leaves companies asking whether sustainability is sustainable for business. The answer is a strong yes. Sustainabilityissustainable for business.

According to The State of CSR in Australia and New Zealand Annual Review– the largest ongoing research study of corporate social responsibility (CSR) capabilities and practices in Australia and New Zealand organisations – corporations that are actively managing and planning for climate change secure a higher return on investment in comparison to companies that aren’t.

Businesses are taking into consideration the brunt products and its production processes have on the environment and are planning their CSR strategies around achieving sustainable development goals such as; zero hunger and poverty, quality education, clean water and sanitation, affordability and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, reduced inequalities, sustainable cities and communities, and responsible consumption and production.

And it seems Australia is leading the way. Based on contribution to workers, community and the planet, 10 Aussie companies have been named best in the world in sustainable business. These companies are redefining success in business by holding themselves to a higher level of accountability and transparency for governance, environmental, community and worker impact.

A few makers and shakers of sustainable business include Sydney financial company Australian Ethical Investmentwhich pursues investments that will produce sustainable and positive change to our environment and society. Another is Nimble Activewear. The Bondi brand has an entire range dedicated to using recycled bottles to produce a material that makes leggings and sports bras. Last year, the brand saved 94,300 plastic bottles from landfill. It also has a short supply chain, which means garments are produced from raw material to finished product within an 80km radius, leaving its carbon footprint smaller than its competitors.

Consumers are also doing their bit, becoming more aware of what negatively affects the planet and keeping mindfulness at the front of mind. The proof is in the pudding. Research suggests a staggering 32% of Australians – about a third of the country – prefer to buy products that are sold in eco-friendly packaging, and 34% prefer products produced using sustainable sourcing methods.

These new trends also suggest Aussies are willing to pay a premium price for sustainable items like clothing made in Oz, knowing it will make a positive impact to society.

But even with growing awareness and the good intentions of businesses and consumers, there is no simple fix to completely turn the damage of our carbon footprint around. However, there are lots of ambitious actions we can make to be smarter about the impact we have on the planet.

It’s blatantly obvious: if we want to reclaim our sustainability, we need to make changes. Dramatic changes. It starts with us and it’s never too late to make a difference in the world – as individuals and small business owners.

For more info on how Aussie businesses are reducing their footprint, and find inspiration on how your small business can do the same, tune into the new podcast presented by CGU in partnership with SBS, The Few Who Do – two hosts, one problem, two possibilities.