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Why Sustainability is Both an Opportunity and a Challenge for Brands

Learn about sustainability challenges in business face and the long-term benefits that make the fight worth fighting.

Sustainability in Business: Why it is both a Challenge and Opportunity

Why Companies Should Be More Sustainable

We live in a world where businesses are constantly evolving. The priorities of investors, executives, and consumers are shifting. It’s an exciting time when sustainability takes center stage, shaping the future of how we do business.

There are lots of ways in which being more sustainable helps a business strive: sustainability increases efficiency, improves your brand value and reputation, provides a platform for innovation, and helps attract esteemed talent… among a variety of other rewards.

Did you know that a whopping 90% of executives now recognize the importance of sustainability? It’s a clear sign that our operations have changed for good.

In the past, businesses focused mainly on growth and profit, often overlooking the environmental and societal impact. However, we find ourselves at a crossroads today. We see the effects of climate change, resource depletion, and social inequality, and we realize that the old ways of doing business are no longer sustainable.

The question is, how can businesses adapt and thrive in this new landscape?

The good news is that embracing sustainability brings incredible opportunities. It’s a chance for businesses to lead the way, find innovative solutions, and build stronger relationships with customers and stakeholders. By prioritizing sustainability, businesses can become pioneers of positive change.

In this blog post, we will explore the sustainability challenges that businesses face today. Then, we will delve into the benefits that make overcoming those challenges worth it.

Sustainability in Business: What Does It Mean?

Before diving deeper into corporate sustainability’s challenges and benefits, we must define what it means.

In simple terms, business sustainability (also known as “green business”) is the practice of operating an organization while limiting its negative impact on the environment. These types of businesses act in the best interests of the local and global conditions.

people planet peace sustainability

This preoccupation comes at an extra cost to companies (be it guaranteeing the compliance of its employees, investing in eco-friendlier infrastructure, switching to more expensive, sustainable resources, and even having to adapt to otherwise more traditional ways of conducting day-to-day operations). 

Sustainability Challenges Brands Need To Look Out For

Gone are the days when we didn’t need to consider the environmental consequences of the things we produced. 

With the advancement of the internet and social media to help spread the word to otherwise uninformed people, consumers are becoming increasingly conscious and attentive towards protecting the planet, its animals, and the people living in it.  

Though sustainability has many positive impacts on businesses (which will be addressed further in this post), implementing such changes can also be quite a challenge. 

According to the International Journal of Research, three main spheres of sustainable development exist:

  • Environmental aspects
  • Social aspects
  • Economic aspects

These 3 spheres unite to give 6 key areas we need to work on as businesses or individuals to ensure that all our productivity actions do not harm future generations. The UN has also given 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) that businesses can adhere to. But fulfilling these goals is not as easy as it sounds in your head.

Here are a few of the biggest challenges when companies commit to sustainability:

1. Extra Cost

Purchasing environmentally friendly alternatives come at an extra price. One of the reasons for this is that such products don’t benefit from the economy of scale to be produced, which can easily drive up the cost. 

Cutting corners allows businesses to produce more quickly and sell more at a lower price point. The alternative—having a sustainable supply chain— means producing less quantity and selling at a higher price point.

RELATED: Why You Should Be Happy To Pay More For Sustainable Brands

2. Compliance

It’s one thing to aim to be sustainable, but it’s a whole other thing actually to manage to be it. And this comes at an even larger commitment to bigger companies — it can be hard to control or determine the level of engagement each employee has toward the company’s sustainable development. 

Meeting sustainability development goals is hard when not every investor, executive, or stakeholder is on the same page regarding environmental issues.

To tackle this issue, it’s important that companies have a strong sustainable culture put in place that reinforces the importance of complying with these important matters.

3. Supply Chain

Supply chain scandals revolving around issues such as working conditions and child labor have surrounded the retail sector for years.

As an example, Zara has allegedly benefited from “slave labor conditions” in countries such as Brazil. Long working hours, subpar payment, and difficult work conditions are just a few of the ghosts hunting some of the employees working for retail giants, especially in fast fashion.

4. Lack of Resources

Some businesses don’t think they have the needed resources — namely, time and money — to properly and effectively implement sustainability strategies. However, the good news is that you don’t have to become a green business all at once

You can start small and make affordable changes as time goes by. This alone is already better than not doing anything at all. And as you continue to cut costs, you’ll be able to afford more extensive changes (win-win).

Sustainability Benefits That Await Businesses Braving The Challenges

Here’s the thing about sustainability: It is rewarding! When a brand or individual considers how to achieve sustainable development goals, they become eligible to enjoy its benefits too.

Indeed, sustainability in business isn’t just good for the environment or society as a whole — it’s also beneficial for the business in itself.

a light switch on the green background

So let’s cover some of the many benefits of running a more sustainable business.

1. Reduces Business Costs

Yes, you read it right. You can actually reduce your business costs by going green. 

Granted, “greening” your business takes an initial, necessary investment, but you’ll see that over time you’ll save more money than ever before.

a green plant in a dollar shape

Solar panels, for example, might seem like a hefty investment at first. But the amount of energy saved is directly proportional to the money you will save as the years go by. According to McKinsey, a sustainability strategy can reduce costs substantially and can affect operating profits by as much as 60%.

2. Improves Business’ Reputation

People view sustainability as a desired plus, and for that reason, companies with green values are eager to comply. Resilient retailers are turning sustainability into the key to success for their businesses.

According to Forbes, among the most prominent companies for corporate social responsibility, Lego comes in at No. 3 because of its decision to make Legos from plant-based sources. This was a measure that caused consumers to admire and respect Lego, which in turn contributes to the company’s ever-growing success to this day.

Going green shows the world you care about more than just making a quick buck. You can use this to your advantage when marketing your business and developing your brand identity.

3. Sustainability Allows You to Connect With Your Customers in Meaningful Ways

The shared mindset of caring for the world and something bigger than business helps retailers establish an opportunity to develop deeper emotional connections with consumers in a way that matters. 

Companies such as The Swiss Impact Store are doing a great job at connecting this common mindset with their clients, with their logo stating, “we care that you care”.

4. Provides Competitive Advantage

Sustainability – once considered by retailers as a hefty cost tied to a temporary consumer trend – is now becoming more widely recognized as a source of competitive advantage that can help drive top-line growth.

In fact, according to Accenture’s study on corporate sustainability, 99% of chief executives from the world’s leading organizations say sustainability is critical to their future success.

Time to Go Green

go green opportunities

In conclusion, embarking on the journey toward sustainability brings its fair share of challenges, but the rewards are undeniably worth it.

By overcoming these challenges, businesses unlock a multitude of benefits. They position themselves as industry leaders, attract conscious consumers, and contribute to a better world. Sustainability becomes a competitive advantage, driving growth and profitability while making a positive impact.

Don’t let obstacles towards being more sustainable impede you from implementing eco-solutions in your business. Truth be told if you fall behind in such practices, your business might become more and more obsolete as the years go by.

So, let’s take the first step towards sustainability and become champions of positive change. Join us today and be part of the movement that shapes a better world for generations. Together, we can make a difference.

Join the Swiss Impact Store tribe now and start your sustainable journey!

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About the author

Ana is the voice (erm, hands?) behind Ana Palombini Copywriting, where she provides B2B copy for SaaS, Tech and entrepreneurs. Once graduated from a university where suits were mandatory, she is now a firm believer that work + sweatpants are a better match than ketchup and fries. When she is not furiously typing ‘till her fingers are numb, you’ll find her watching Friends for the millionth time or having late-night sushi from her couch (or both). Say hi on Linkedin or check out her website.