By Lori Karpman
The term “sustainability” is often used in everyday business parlance. Consumers care about sustainability and want to partner with companies that integrate social responsibility and respect for nature into their strategy, mission and values. As consumers become more educated, they seek out companies that share their views on preserving the environment.
According to McGill University, “sustainability means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. In addition to natural resources, we also need social and economic resources.
While the current generation of consumers may not necessarily be looking for sustainability when shopping, younger and emerging generations see it as one of the most important issues in their lives. Millennials and Generation Zers see climate change as one of their top priorities. These are the generations that will occupy the boardrooms and executive seats of the future. They will guide their businesses towards sustainability because that’s what they want and that’s what their customers want.
Brands that don’t incorporate a sustainability perspective into their business model can be seen as insensitive to the needs of the planet and ignorant of the long-term effects of climate change. This ends up affecting their finances as they see their market share shrinking in favor of “greener” companies.
To avoid this negative impact, here are some sustainable practices that every business can adopt in any industry:
- Make sustainable development an integral part of the company’s strategy. This means looking at all aspects of how the business operates and making as many lasting changes as possible. This applies to all categories of business operations, including purchasing, distribution, administration and sales. Sustainability should be part of a company’s mission and value statement. It will also help attract and retain a younger generation of employees who see this element of business as a requirement in their world.
- Partnership with employees and franchisees. Companies should solicit additional ideas on resource conservation from employees and franchisees. The employees and franchisees, many of whom belong to the younger generation, are a great source of ideas on how to reduce waste and preserve the environment. The fact that they are so committed and “buy in” to this concept facilitates the implementation of such strategies.
- Save water and electricity. This can be applied to all businesses. Converting to energy efficient faucets, toilets and lighting is a great way to save water, energy and money. Due to the amount of water and electrical equipment they use, the restaurant industry is the most affected. Using environmentally friendly cleaning products goes a long way towards creating a more efficient and nature-friendly industry. Even in an office environment, businesses can implement waste reduction methods by replacing water cooler cups with refillable spouts and purchasing energy-efficient electronics. Where appropriate, work equipment can also be configured using environmentally friendly settings.
- Create an environmentally friendly supply chain. Companies prefer to work with sustainable companies that care about the environment. When sourcing supplies, business owners should compile a list of potential suppliers who make the environment a priority and commit to using them only for their business needs.
- Development of a recycling program. This also applies to franchisees, not just headquarters. It’s easy to develop an in-house program for recyclables such as paper, computers, other electronics, plastic, aluminum cans, ink cartridges, and more. Businesses can contract with waste management companies to dispose of all the waste they have collected.
Whether or not consumers identify with a brand’s personality, mission and vision influences their buying decision. This has always been true to some extent, but it is even more prevalent today. The only difference is that today’s consumers, especially those in the younger generation, place a much higher value on sustainability compared to previous generations, and companies are responding accordingly.
Green Franchise Opportunities
With growing awareness of the importance of saving the planet, it should come as no surprise that businesses are becoming more “green”. With more and more green franchises, the industry is no stranger to this trend. There are many green franchises that environmentally conscious entrepreneurs can invest in across a variety of industries. The following industries are currently growing and will continue to thrive as more businesses adopt sustainable practices.
Eco-friendly dry cleaning services use natural, non-toxic formulas in detergents and solvents. Some brands provide customers with reusable laundry bags made from ethically sourced cotton, use biodegradable plastic covers, and have energy-efficient washing machines. There are also household cleaning, carpet and window cleaning, and catering companies that use pet- and family-friendly products that are safe for the environment. With the future generation of consumers in mind, offering environmentally friendly services can be a huge selling point.
Energy efficient franchises
Solar franchise opportunities are all the rage right now, as solar arrays and panels have become a staple in construction and renovation, in both commercial and residential properties. Many homeowners want to reduce their energy consumption to help save the planet. As a result, they seek out companies that provide sustainable home services, such as better insulation; improved air quality; increased comfort at home; efficient lighting, appliances, windows and doors; and an overall reduction in energy costs. Franchises that meet any of these needs are likely to succeed.
Home service deductibles
There is a wide range and variety of franchises to choose from within the home services category. From lawn care, carpet cleaning and window washing to interior and exterior renovations and trash removal, home service brands are booming. These brands use environmentally friendly and pet-friendly cleaning products and packaging. In the age of sustainability, waste disposal has grown in popularity as more and more people seek to clean and recycle items they no longer need. Brands that are committed to eliminating waste from landfills, donating to environmental causes, and using eco-friendly products and service providers are bound to do well now and in the future.
As new-age consumers demand environmentally friendly products and services, it’s more important than ever to take a proactive approach to saving the planet. This is not just a business-to-consumer phenomenon, but also a business-to-business one. It affects all actors in the supply chain, because sustainability is non-negotiable for future generations. Every company should strive to include sustainability as one of its core business values. Brands must constantly innovate and experiment to become “greener”, while being aware of their carbon footprint and the impact they leave on the planet.