This is the fourth article in a series about sustainable businesses. Read the other articles about sustainability marketing tips, 2021 sustainability trends, and how to spot and avoid greenwashing on our blog. 

Every Earth Day, our social media feeds are bombarded by brands. They’ll post a stock image of hands cupped together holding a sprouting bean plant and throw around buzz words about their “eco-friendly” products. 

While Earth Day is a great opportunity for brands to talk about environmental protection, many brands only talk about these things on Earth Day. And they’re usually the prime offenders of greenwashing — exaggerating the truth about the environmental benefits of their products or services.

Today, consumers respect brands that take sustainability beyond the reduce, reuse, recycle motto. And corporations agree. In a report for the UN Global Compact, 84 percent of 1,000 global CEOs agreed that businesses should lead the pack in defining and delivering on new sustainability goals. But only a third of CEOs think businesses today are doing enough. 

Now is the time to start making a change to gain consumer trust. If we all set some goals and take a few simple steps towards sustainability in our own companies, then perhaps Earth Day will look a little different next year.

Why should I prioritize sustainability in my business goals?

Consumers want sustainability 

Consumers are much more inclined to buy from a brand if they know it’s doing some good for the world. As of a 2021 study, consumers surveyed found sustainability to be even more important now than it was a year ago. 

  • More than three-quarters of consumers say sustainability plays a role when deciding what to buy at the supermarket or order from a restaurant.
  • More than half say they’re more concerned about sustainability compared to this time last year. 
  • Consumers ages 18 to 44 cared more about sustainability than other age groups, rating it as “extremely important.”

Sustainability is profitable 

Evidence suggests that an authentic sustainability push will lead to better profits. 

One study found that firms with a better record of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) than that of their peers had a few perks: They held a higher-quality stock, had higher three-year returns, and were less likely to go bankrupt. 

In another study of two groups of companies (one that had long-term investments in sustainability and one that did not) the sustainable group had (big surprise) a significantly better return on assets. The researchers concluded that a corporate culture of sustainability is a competitive advantage.

Sustainability is a smart business decision

Prioritizing sustainability is not a philanthropic move — it’s a vital business tactic that showcases your resilience. Putting a stake in the ground can sway public opinion and truly influence consumers to do better for our planet. When you prioritize sustainability, you can have a real impact. 

Where do I begin?

Step 1: Look at the Sustainable Development Goals 

The United Nations created 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) in 2015 with the goal of achieving them by 2030. You can see all of them here, but a few of the environmentally-focused SDGs include: 

  • Taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. 
  • Ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. 
  • Protecting, restoring, and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, oceans, and seas. 
  • Securing access to affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy for all. 
  • Ensuring sustainable production and consumption patterns. 

Take a look through these goals. Where might they overlap with your core business model? Really take the time to think about how your business might have the opportunity to make a sustainable impact — which, in turn, will strengthen your bottom line. 

Step 2: Make an actionable plan and track your goals

Setting goals is a great first step, but the only way to hold your business accountable is to monitor them. Be transparent with your entire team — once you’ve spoken your goals into existence, you’ll be more inclined to meet them. Meet with your leadership or sustainability team at least once a month to discuss how you’re meeting these goals and set a yearly meeting to review your progress with your entire company. 

Once you have your sustainability strategy down, it’s time to market it. We can help. Check out our content marketing packages and contact us today if we feel like the right fit for you. 

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