Sustainability in Practice

In the wake of global warming, deforestation, pollution, species extinction, resource depletion and poverty, and under the scrutiny of the powerhouse, Greta Thunberg, the corporate world is now acknowledging that there is more to sustainability than just reducing energy usage. Although still in its infancy, a growing number of companies are prioritising greener initiatives on their agendas.

With the end goal of streamlining their processes to achieve operational and beyond-compliant excellence, stimulating growth and positively contributing to their value chains, companies often face challenges when trying to go green. Depending on how they approach these obstacles is what separates the mice from the men.

Misinformation is rife as the climate crisis escalates across the world, perpetrated by the marketing practice of green-washing. The damaging practice involves a discrepancy between an organisation’s sustainability claims, against their actual environmental performance. Since the 1980s, green-washing has seen a troubling evolution in popularity without showing signs of slowing down. For consumers and business owners alike; trying to navigate through sustainability truths is like an unfathomable collection of greys and although that may be heavenly for E.L James, we don’t do so well with the mid-tones. Instead, we need clarity and trustworthy sources to make informed decisions.

Sustainability is a broad discipline that is often defined as “meeting the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs”. Often represented diagrammatically, sustainability has three main segments: social, environmental and economic. These areas of focus are informally referred to as the: people, planet and profits and when considered together, they form a compelling framework known as the Triple Bottom Line (TBL). The TBL theory recommends that companies equally split their commitment between social and environmental responsibilities as well as profits. By focusing on these three interrelated elements, the TBL framework plays an integral part in supporting a company’s sustainability goals.

A pie chart outlining the three sections of the Triple Bottom Line

Other potential areas of focus to consider in this discipline are: technical feasibility, political legitimacy and capacity building.

Alt Text: A pie chart outlining the other potential areas of focus.

In this series of posts, I will be exploring the six different areas of focus in the TBL framework, spotlighting on successful initiatives that have been implemented in businesses from varying sectors.

To conclude, if you are thinking about going sustainable, just remember that better information = better business = better planet.

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