What Is Sustainability in Business? (+10 Brand Examples) (2023)

It's official: customers choose sustainable products from sustainable brands.

This means that "brands that can strategically connect sustainability to actual behavior are in a good place to capitalize on increased consumer expectation and demand." To grip the trend, more companies today struggle to redo their business paradigm accordingly.

A brand's green marketing strategies and turning to sustainable packaging last well into this process. And yet, for a brand to be described as sustainable and maintain a sustainable competitive advantage, it needs to adopt a variety of practices.

The concept of sustainability comes with three pillars: economic, social, and environmental (also known as the three Ps: profit, people, and planet). Its focus is to meet the needs of today without blowing future generations' chances to meet their needs tomorrow.

By sustainability in business, we mean two categories: its effect on the environment and its effect on society.

For a business to become sustainable, it needs to focus on long-term strategies for making a positive impact on those categories. Sustainability is about framing business decisions in terms of years or even decades and considering many more factors than just a financial benefit.

Sustainability is about setting reasonable business goals and working towards them right along.

The goals can be as follows:

  • Cut emissions
  • Prevent pollution
  • Use sustainable materials
  • Lower energy usage
  • Use green-certified office products
  • Encourage sustainable behavior
  • Network with like-minded organizations

And when a business achieves their set goals – cutting emissions by 5%, for example – they can call themselves "sustainable."

Why sustainability is important

In addition to saving the planet and attracting new customers with social responsibility, sustainability can drive business by far. According to McKinsey, brands with higher ESG ratings (Environmental + Social + Governance metrics) are more financially successful and have more public support.

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Also, sustainability in business motivates a brand's employees to align with its mission, goals, and values. They are ready to work towards improving a company's reputation and meeting customers' expectations.

Within this framework, the benefits of sustainability in business include:

Saving money. Eco-friendly techs and lower waste in energy/time can bring significant savings.
Attracting investors. A reputation of an earth-friendly business is persuasive enough for savvy investors and new customers to come.
Retaining employees. A brand supporting sustainable practices can attract qualified employees who'll perform better and be more satisfied with their workplaces, saving resources for the process of recruitment.
Creating new jobs. The focus on sustainability can introduce new job titles such as CVO (Customer Value Officer), wind energy engineers, passive solar building designers, and more.

What businesses need to become sustainable

Sustainable companies are those proposing and acting for environmental and social concerns.

To create a more sustainable strategy, business needs to assess a particular problem and define clear objectives. Only if understanding what sustainability means for its industry and clients, a business can establish its big mission and craft a long-term strategy based on its values.

Answers to questions such as…

How much waste our organization creates
What impact it has on the local community
How we outreach to customers
How our product helps a certain audience

...can help to develop a sustainable business strategy.

Lastly, to address sustainability in business, a company needs to beware of two critical gaps such as "I know but do nothing" and "I need sustainability for competitive advantage."

According to a 2017 report by MIT, only 25% of companies incorporated sustainability in their business model though 90% of executives found it to be significant. What’s more, 24% of companies see sustainability as an area of competitive advantage, missing the fact that compliance goes first.

To stand out with sustainability, a business should address both gaps and understand all the risks of getting them wrong.

Examples of sustainability practices

The companies listed below are solid examples of how sustainability can be ingrained in every aspect of a business. They implement sustainable strategies to promote core values and conscious consumption to the world.

(Video) Examples of Company Sustainability

Christy Dawn

What Is Sustainability in Business? (+10 Brand Examples) (1)

This LA-based brand makes dresses out of deadstock fabrics, the stuff manufacturers usually leave behind on sewing tables and, therefore, waste.

Launched back in 2013, the company promotes sustainability everywhere they can: create limited edition pieces, reduce the usage of fabric, deliver their product in wooden boxes rather than polyurethane bags, and advocate minimalism to support the overall image of the brand.

PepsiCo

What Is Sustainability in Business? (+10 Brand Examples) (2)

PepsiCo presents its sustainability goals and annual reports since 2005. They are about three aspects: human sustainability (the brand promoteshealthy food and drinks), talent sustainability (the brand works to attract top talents and create a diverse company culture), and environmental sustainability (the brand works on minimizing their footprint and operates in a manner to protect resources).

By 2025, they plan to reduce added sugar and fat in products, design 100% of their packaging to be recyclable, and reduce the waste they generate by 50%. Also, PepsiCo continues to develop a diverse workforce and advance respect for human rights.

Brown-Forman

What Is Sustainability in Business? (+10 Brand Examples) (3)

This distributor of wine and spirits demonstrates sustainability by using climate-sensitive and water-intensive ingredients for their products. For Brown-Forman, it's a great way to build consumer relationships and endure their brand.

Aimed at protecting natural resources for future generations, they partner with other businesses for sustainability initiatives such as concentrating on reused or recycled materials and organizing joint actions to solve climate change problems. As well as other responsible brands, they care about employee relations and diversity too.

Nike

What Is Sustainability in Business? (+10 Brand Examples) (4)This sports brand integrates sustainable design across its products. Back in 2013, they created the Making app, revealing the sustainability index of their materials to the public, inspiring other manufacturers to create a more sustainable design, too.

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Nike understands its environmental impact, minimizing the brand's footprint. They work with like-minded suppliers, take part in climate change summits, promote a circular economy, and build a global community of responsible people for creating a more sustainable future.

Ford Motor Company

What Is Sustainability in Business? (+10 Brand Examples) (5)In recent years, the brand has increased its usage of renewable materials in vehicles. They've reduced their global waste by 5.5% in 2018 and got 14.5% reduction in water use since 2010. The 100% renewable energy for all manufacturing plants globally by 2035 is in its plans.

Ford Motor Company invests millions in electrified vehicles, promotes volunteering, and supports minority, women, and veteran-owned businesses, celebrating diversity and enhancing people's lives the way they can.

Bank of America

What Is Sustainability in Business? (+10 Brand Examples) (6)

The company launched its Environmental Business Initiatives back in 2007, encouraging customers to deploy their capital to sustainable activities. In other words, they finance opportunities that create positive change to the planet.

Bank of America works on reducing their environmental impact (the 2020 goals include reducing GHG emissions by 50%, water use - by 45%, and waste - by 35%) and has strong governance of all their initiatives. Also, they have an ambitious program for employees, encouraging them to act as environmental advocates everywhere they can.

Ben & Jerry’s

What Is Sustainability in Business? (+10 Brand Examples) (7)The brand has a long history of business development and fighting for environmental sustainability. Since 2002, they launched carbon offsets programs, ran global warming advocacy campaigns, and invested in efficient manufacturing and supply chains to lower their footprint.

All of their products are made of non-GMO ingredients. Ben & Jerry’s works on reducing methane emissions from farms, and their plan is to get to 100% clean energy at their U.S. sites by 2020.

Their programs are all about sustainability as well. In 2013, the brand got the Good Dairy Award for their Caring Dairy program that helped farms adopt sustainable practices for raising cows without growth hormones. Their foundation engages employees in social change work and supports communities for environmental justice.

Xylem

What Is Sustainability in Business? (+10 Brand Examples) (8)This water technology provider does everything to operate their business in a way to ensure its safety and quality but minimize its environmental footprint. They even have senior executives responsible for Xylem's sustainability performance.

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They work on optimizing global water management, preventing water pollution, and reducing waste to landfill. The achieved goals include a 16% reduction in water use and 18% reduction in net GHG emissions. Xylem won Forbes, Fortune, and Global Water Awards for being among the top just and changing the world companies. Their sustainalytics score is currently 78.

General Mills

What Is Sustainability in Business? (+10 Brand Examples) (9)The focus areas of this business include climate change, the sustainability of water use, and improving ecosystems in their supply chain. They support the humane treatment of animals (they've even developed Animal welfare policy) and work on improving the social and economic impact of their products.

In 2018, 85% of General Mills ingredients were sustainably sourced, and their goal is to reach 100% by 2020. They invest millions in soil health initiatives, support human rights across their value chain, and do their best to update their global responsibility issues regularly.

Dell

What Is Sustainability in Business? (+10 Brand Examples) (10)The brand focuses on transforming lives with technology, cultivating inclusion, and advancing sustainability. They integrate alternative materials in products and packaging, those designing for end-of-life and recyclability, work on improvements in energy efficiency, and plan to reduce the energy intensity of their products by 80% in 2020.

Dell works on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, recycling (or recovering) used electronics properly, sourcing sustainable materials, and partnering with responsible suppliers only. They've already developed their vision for 2030, which once again confirms the fact that sustainability in business is all about long-term, SMART goals and clear objectives.

Practices to try for sustainability in business

A focus on sustainability appears to be a must for a business to succeed today. For those willing to become more sustainable in business, focus on shifting away from consumer-based economy to conserver-based one. Let the world know about your big mission and think of sustainable practices that might align with it.

The emerging paradigms and associated business models such as sharing economy, circular economy, voluntary transparency, and giving instead of receiving are a good place to start.

As Felip Vidiella from Dow Chemical once mentioned in their presentation:

"Sustainability requires making every decision with the future in mind. It is about our relationship with the world around us — creating economic prosperity and social value while contributing to the preservation of the planet."

If you're interested in adopting a sustainability program in your workspace, discover the top-rated sustainability management software to help you get started. It's never too late to go green.

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What Is Sustainability in Business? (+10 Brand Examples) (11)

FAQs

What is an example of sustainability in business? ›

For example, you could look for a paper supplier that uses only recycled materials in their products to take care of all of your company's printing and mailing needs. By doing business with another sustainable company, you save paper and contribute to a culture of being environmentally conscious at your business.

What is sustainability and examples? ›

Sustainability means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In addition to natural resources, we also need social and economic resources.

What is sustainability * Your answer? ›

Sustainability consists of fulfilling the needs of current generations without compromising the needs of future generations, while ensuring a balance between economic growth, environmental care and social well-being.

What is sustainability in a business? ›

Simply put, sustainability is a business approach to creating long-term value by taking into consideration how a given organization operates in the ecological, social, and economic environments. Sustainability is built on the assumption that developing such strategies fosters company longevity.

What are 5 sustainable products? ›

There are many ways to reduce the environmental pollution that stems from your home simply by choosing eco friendly products.
  • Certified Compostable Bin Liners. ...
  • Recycled Toilet Tissue. ...
  • Recycled Plastic Toothbrush. ...
  • Recycled Sari Table Linen Collection. ...
  • Recycled Plastic Rugs. ...
  • Ballpoint Pens Made From Recycled Water Bottles.

What is a real life example of sustainability? ›

Buying lunchboxes rather than relying on paper bags. Using dish cloths or rags to clean up messes instead of paper towels or wipes. Bringing reusable grocery bags to the store rather than taking plastic bags home. Refilling a reusable water bottle instead of purchasing single-use bottled water.

What is a good example of sustainable development? ›

The two examples of sustainable development are: 1.Solar energy: Harnessing the solar energy to reduce pollution in the environment. 2.Crop Rotation : Planting different types of crops on the same land on a rotational basis for improving soil fertility.

What are 5 ways to be sustainable? ›

Sustainable Buffs: 5 simple ways to be more sustainable
  • Limit your food waste. A great deal of energy is used in transporting and storing food for consumption. ...
  • Eat more plant based meals. Even one day a week of plant-based meals has an impact! ...
  • Recycle and compost. ...
  • Leave your car at home. ...
  • Reduce your plastic.
20 Jan 2022

What are the 3 types of sustainability? ›

The figure at the top of this page suggests that there are three pillars of sustainability – economic viability, environmental protection and social equity.

What are 3 ways to be sustainable? ›

  • Think twice before shopping.
  • Make sure your big purchases have big environmental benefits.
  • Go #PlasticFree.
  • Boycott products that endanger wildlife.
  • Pay attention to labels.
  • Be water wise.
  • Drive less, drive green.
  • Green your home.

Why is sustainability important in simple words? ›

Sustainability improves the quality of our lives, protects our ecosystem and preserves natural resources for future generations. In the corporate world, sustainability is associated with an organization's holistic approach, taking into account everything, from manufacturing to logistics to customer service.

Why is sustainability in business important? ›

You can earn more money and boost your bottom line by making your business more sustainable. Reduced business costs, more innovative strategies, an improved reputation, and more new customers who value sustainability all work to increase the amount of money sustainable businesses earn.

Why a business is sustainable? ›

A sustainable business is any organization that participates in Environmentally friendly or green activities to ensure that all processes, products, and manufacturing activities adequately address current environmental concerns while maintaining a profit.

How can a business show sustainability? ›

Improve your business's sustainability with these five tips
  1. Think outside the box when it comes to recycling. Do not just recycle paper and ink cartridges. ...
  2. Aim for zero waste to landfill. ...
  3. Become a 'B Corp' ...
  4. Let employees work from home. ...
  5. Be smart with paper.
1 Apr 2022

What are 10 sustainable practices? ›

Keep reading for 12 sustainability practices you can do at home.
  • Avoid Disposable Items. ...
  • Reduce Your Food Waste. ...
  • Make Your Own Cleaning Products. ...
  • Grow a Sustainable Garden. ...
  • Buy Products with Less Packaging. ...
  • Recycle Properly. ...
  • Take Meat Off the Menu. ...
  • Buy Less, Buy Better.

What is a sustainable product example? ›

Some eco-friendly ideas include: biodegradable cutlery, bamboo picnicware, reusable paper towel alternatives, silicone or stainless steel straws, waterless laundry detergent strips, countertop composters, and upcycled furniture.

What are the 6 major goals of sustainability? ›

The 17 SDGs are: No poverty, zero hunger, good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, industry, innovation and infrastructure, Reduced Inequality, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Responsible Consumption and ...

What are 3 examples of living sustainably or being sustainable? ›

Eliminate Your Plastic Use
  • Bars are better than bottles. Don't buy a shampoo or conditioner bottle, which cannot be recycled despite misleading labels. ...
  • Use reusable bags at the grocery store. ...
  • Refill your reusable water bottle. ...
  • Stop buying one-use items. ...
  • Energy-efficient appliances. ...
  • Recycle. ...
  • Upcycle. ...
  • Compost.
22 Jun 2020

What are good sustainable ideas? ›

11 sustainable business practices to embrace in 2022
  • Use biodegradable packaging. ...
  • Eliminate paper usage. ...
  • Conserve water. ...
  • Consider renewable energy. ...
  • Invest in green projects. ...
  • Develop a recycling program. ...
  • Reassess your supply chain. ...
  • Educate employees.
31 Aug 2022

What is sustainable development Class 10 in simple words? ›

“Sustainable Development means that meets the needs of the present generations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Which of these in an example of sustainability? ›

Not wasting paper is a type of sustainable development because the paper is made when the wood is soaked in a chemical solution for days, so the paper is made from wood and wood is came out of a tree as a result many trees are cut to make paper and as we know trees are limited so we should not waste paper so that our ...

What are the 6 stages of sustainability? ›

Life-Cycle Sustainability Assessment: The 6 Stages of Creating an Environmentally-Friendly Product
  • DESIGN. ...
  • EXTRACTION OF RAW MATERIALS. ...
  • MANUFACTURING. ...
  • DISTRIBUTION & PACKAGING. ...
  • PRODUCT USE. ...
  • END OF LIFE (DISPOSAL OR RECYCLING)
8 Apr 2022

What sustainability means to me? ›

Sustainability is ability to maintain or support a process over time. Sustainability is often broken into three core concepts: economic, environmental, and social. Many businesses and governments have committed to sustainable goals, such as reducing their environmental footprints and conserving resources.

What are 3 facts about sustainability? ›

The US makes up only 5% of the world population, but it throws away enough plastic bottles in a week to encircle the Earth 5 times! On average, ONE supermarket goes through 60,500,000 paper bags per year! Bring a reusable bag instead! A modern glass bottle takes 4000 years or more to decompose.

What are the benefits of sustainability? ›

There are both environmental and financial benefits for installing renewable energy like solar for your home or business.
  • No emissions.
  • Reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Stabilizes energy costs over time.
  • Adds value to your property.
  • Reduces your electric bill.
  • Leverages financial incentives and tax credits.

What are three examples of sustainable business practices? ›

Summary of Sustainable Business Practices
  • Switch All Lighting to LEDs.
  • Implement a Comprehensive Recycling Program.
  • Use No-VOC Interior Paints.
  • Allow Flexible Work-From-Home Options.
  • Eliminate Paper Use.
  • Strive for Zero Waste Break Rooms.
  • Install Water-Saving Fixtures.
  • Consider Renewable Energy.
5 Oct 2021

Why is sustainability a key success? ›

Sustainable action influences a company's reputation and has a positive effect on the company value. Social responsibility, environmental and climate protection must be reconciled with economic success in order to master the challenges of our time.

What is sustainable business plan? ›

What Is a Business Sustainability Plan? A business sustainability plan is simply something an organization develops to achieve goals that create financial, societal and environmental sustainability.

How important is sustainability in business? ›

Social impact: Socially sustainable companies recognize their own importance to people and society, and work to improve their local communities. Business impact: Consumers are more likely to support sustainable businesses. Sustainability also cuts business costs by reducing energy consumption and waste.

How does sustainability benefit a business? ›

You can earn more money and boost your bottom line by making your business more sustainable. Reduced business costs, more innovative strategies, an improved reputation, and more new customers who value sustainability all work to increase the amount of money sustainable businesses earn.

What are the 5 stages of sustainable business? ›

5 Business Stages Towards Sustainability
  • Stage 1: Pre-Compliance. As a company, it will do everything is can to cut costs even though it is borderline legal, sometimes illegal as long as it doesn't get caught. ...
  • Stage 2: Compliance. ...
  • Stage 3: Beyond Compliance. ...
  • Stage 4 Integrated Strategy & Stage 5 Purpose / Passion.
10 Dec 2015

What are the 5 characteristics of sustainability? ›

Characteristics of a Sustainable Community
  • Saved lives.
  • Reduced damage to property.
  • Reduced economic losses.
  • Minimized social disruption.
  • Ability of local government to resume operations quickly.
  • Shorter recovery period for the community.

Why do we need sustainability? ›

Sustainability improves the quality of our lives, protects our ecosystem and preserves natural resources for future generations. In the corporate world, sustainability is associated with an organization's holistic approach, taking into account everything, from manufacturing to logistics to customer service.

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