Here’s why sustainability and profitability are not mutually exclusive: There is an outdated view in business which seems to imply that a business can be green or profitable, but can’t be both. It seems to emanate, in the main, from the kind of “tough-talking” business owners or commentators who see business as a world of realists, while environmentalism is a world of idealists. It’s not too far divorced from the mindset that saw people saying for large swathes of 2020 that “while it’s sad that people are getting sick, is it really worth ruining the economy over?”. In essence, that it’s naive to care about people and the planet when there is profit to be made.
There are some very pervasive myths about green business and sustainability that do put some people off in either direction: people with good ideas for conservation who will avoid the business world, and skilled businesspeople who could be allies in the fight against climate change. So it’s worth taking a look at some of these myths and doing the good work of dispelling them with facts.
Busting Myths About Green Business
Businesses caring about the planet are just “greenwashing”
This is the kind of myth that says more about the person propagating it than it does about the people they target. It implies that people can only be motivated to do good for the planet if it can be used as a marketing tool. And in the case of some businesses, whose words and actions don’t match, it can even be an accurate criticism. But as a small business, you can choose to use sustainable fuels, make deliveries by bicycle rather than car and work solely with ethical producers because it’s the right thing to do. Larger businesses have to start their sustainability journey somewhere, switching to green production practises, delivery methods and packaging is not an overnight change. If a business is being transparent about its greening efforts, well, that’s a great start.
Going green will hurt your bottom line
It’s true that if your sole core focus is making as much profit as possible, then you’ll probably ride roughshod over the environment to get there. With that said, going green doesn’t have to mean nervously cringing every time you load up the accounting software and check your finances. Customers are increasingly attracted by a green message; a sustainable business will, in the long run, find its outgoing costs lowered; and it’s increasingly possible to benefit from green lending and grants. What’s more, climate change will have an economic toll, and is starting to already – so who’s the financially illiterate one in this conversation?
“Carbon-intensive firms are likely to lose 43% of their value thanks to policies designed to combat climate change”– BBC Business
It’s up to governments to deal with green issues
You can come at this argument from two angles: first by saying that, yes, it absolutely is a job for governments – and they aren’t doing enough. We would certainly all be in a better place if they were to take more decisive action against pollution and climate change. However, the clock is ticking and if they’re not going to step up, we have to. Secondly, when was it ever a bad idea to get out ahead of something that’s inevitable anyway? Considering sustainability in both production and logistics is vital to our survival. As time passes, there will be more action to protect the planet and it will involve requiring businesses to meet set targets and standards – so if you meet them now, you won’t have to change in a rush when everyone else is doing it. Being an early adopter is the green, smart choice.Sustainability and profitability are not mutually exclusive. Click To Tweet
It’s easy to be cynical and to sneer about green business, but in the long run, the math is pretty clear – either the future is green or there is no future, so let’s get to work.
Photography by Jamie Street