Sustainable Businesses: The Key Fundamentals

The term “sustainability” is in danger of becoming overused, perhaps even venturing into the territory of becoming a meaningless business buzzword. This is a problem, as sustainability should not be overused and it definitely shouldn’t be dismissed as an “on trend” buzzword— it’s simply far too important for that.

If you’re (understandably!) confused about what sustainability actually is, how to implement it into your business, and how useful it can be, then you’re definitely going to want to read on…

What is sustainability?

There’s the simple dictionary definition of sustainability, which is usually along the lines of: “the ability to be maintained at a certain level”. However, in business, sustainability is usually used to describe safeguards pertaining to the continuation of an individual business, an entire sector, or even the entire world environment.

Essentially, from a business perspective, we can see sustainability as being a question of how business can continue to exist in a world of finite resources.

What resources are finite?

Everything! Whatever business sector you are in, there are likely to be sustainability issues. If you sell notebooks, then the sustainability of your business is related to paper production. If you own a construction company, sustainability is concerned with the materials you use for your projects. If you run a hotel, then the sustainability of your business is related to the upkeep of your property and — in some ways — the sustainability of the global economy, as a recession would likely see your number of bookings drop. Every kind of business has sustainability elements they need to examine.

How do you examine these elements?

Sustainability is basically a game of “what if”. Let’s run through this in theory, using one of the aforementioned ideas; you run a construction business that relies on a steady stream of materials. So, you’d run through:


  • What if your existing supplier went out of business?


  • You could answer this by saying: “I’d move to another supplier.”

Then you have to move the question on a level:


  • What if your new supplier ran out of materials and then went out of business?


  • You could answer this by saying; “I’d move on to the likes of as they offer repurposed and reused materials, which are inherently more sustainable.”

The purpose of the “what if” experiment is to encourage you to think the unthinkable, and then learn to plan for how you would cope. In business, it’s always wise to assume that nothing is certain, that every resource can one day become obsolete, and that the world can change in an instant.

Are there any other aspects of sustainability to consider, outside of my business supplies?

You may want to look at your business’ environmental impact in terms of sustainability. For example, switching from a standard electricity supplier to a supplier who uses renewable energy is a great contribution to sustainability, and thus well worth considering. There are plenty of other tips for simple sustainability solutions on, so have a read to see what might be workable for you.

Ultimately, sustainability is about ensuring that your business is able to continue— so it’s in your best interests to ensure this is an area you have covered as well as possible.

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