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What's the point of sustainable business?

‘Sustainability’ is one of those concepts which over time can become little more than a trendy buzz-word, a vague notion of goodness we know we should be aiming to achieve in our homes and businesses.

The general reasons why we should strive to live greener lifestyles are not new to us; over the last few decades, the destructive impact of climate change has been well documented. This damage can be slowed, if not mitigated, through a collective effort to reduce waste and discover alternate energy sources to fuel the demands of a growing population.

We are well versed in these ecological reasons to live sustainably.

The tangible business benefits, however, are less well known yet significant and more perceptible.  Indeed, implementing green strategy into your business is not only an ethical decision, but an exceedingly pragmatic one which makes sound economic sense.

So, besides the well-known environmental benefits, what is the point in making your business more sustainable?

  • Cost efficient

    First and foremost, overtime, being sustainable saves you money and increases profits. As finite resources such as fossil fuels become scarcer, their costs will increase. Companies must prepare for the eventuality that one day these resources will either be exhausted, or cost too much to afford by seeking alternative solutions. Whilst it is true that the initial integration of sustainable technologies can be costly, the transition saves you money in the long run. For example, the initial high per square metre cost of building Passivhaus architecture is easily justified in just a few years through the money saved on heating.  Moreover, steps towards cost-efficiency can be as simple as turning off excess lights, printing less, reusing materials where possible and limiting heating. Though incremental, over time it all adds up, making both an environmental and economical difference.
  • Brand image – it’s nice to be nice 

    People like to be associated with positive causes, especially the social-activist oriented younger generation. More and more people actively seek out business with companies who take moral responsibility for their social and environmental impact. This is especially pertinent in a rural location like Devon, where the agricultural environment is not just a beautiful setting, but the basis of entire livelihoods. Respecting and supporting the environment and the communities within it establishes a positive ethos, which in turn attracts clients with mutual values.   
  • New revenue opportunities

    Being sustainable requires innovation, nspiring new models and products, with potential for collaborations and partnership with like minded businesses. Additionally, being associated with an up and coming market ensures you stay relevant, imperative to keeping up with competitors.  In this age, refusing to change with the times by not adopting sustainable strategies could be directly detrimental. 
  • Attracts clients

    At the same time, not all businesses prioritise being ‘green’, especially smaller ones who may feel they can’t afford to.  Therefore, making a conscious and deliberate effort to let consumers know that sustainability is at the heart of your company may be a unique and attractive factor. In places where there are few other competitors who explicitly value sustainability, your company will stand out to consumers who actively seek out those values.


Lucy Lorimer works at Devon Business & Education Centre, a sustainable venue in the heart of East Devon.  For more information contact [email protected] 

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