Green for the Gold: Sustainability and Profit
By Gary Simms
The hippy tree-hugging business versus the profit-driven power house dichotomy needs to end. Every day, large corporations are tailoring their practices more towards a double bottom line: profitability and sustainability. A 2011 survey of 3,000 corporate leaders, conducted by MIT, revealed that nearly 70 percent of companies place the expansion and integration of sustainable business practices near the top of their totem poles, Environmental Leader notes.
Running out of resources and polluting the environment should be a consideration in every arena of big business. When sustainable practices are utilized, it's a win-win for companies, consumers and the planet. Managing Director of Water Stewardship at Coca-Cola, Greg Koch, told Forbes that “green washing" initiatives for PR's sake are simply not going to cut it. Koch goes on to say the aforementioned initiatives affect profitability.
The green trend can be seen at dealerships across the U.S. to the 10 best green cars for sale on Kelley Blue Book of 2013. For example, when consumers buy used in Dallas, Houston, San Antonio or other major Texan cities, it has become more likely that car will be a hybrid. San Antonio's six Toyota dealerships have experienced a 63 percent rise in hybrid sales from 2011 to 2012, according to MySanAntonio.com.
Whisking risks away
General Electric knows that even though initial costs are steep, sustainable businesses are the only kind that will last over the long haul. GE's “ecomagination” division has invested more than $5 billion dollars into renewable energy since 2005, including efficiency and smart grid technologies. The company has since seen $85 billion in revenue growth. Mark Vachon, ecomagination's VP, told Forbes that the pervading theory that companies must choose between profits and sustainability is nonsense. Other large corporations, such as PepsiCo and Siemens, have garnered attention for their devotion to sustainability. Remediation company Sevenson Environmental has even turned formerly toxic Cherry Island Landfill into a safer, higher capacity, and stabilized area. As sustainability steps further into the spotlight, green trailblazers will continue to notice that their strategies are becoming not just innovative, but imperative.
Product demand and overall interest
The Boston Consulting Group conducted a survey in 2007 and 2008 that revealed the importance of sustainable products and practices to consumers. Even in the midst of an economic downturn, green products are still very important to them. In fact, a greater amount of consumers stated that they are willing to spend more on green-friendly products. People are becoming increasingly knowledgeable about products and practices that won't leave our grandkids reeling in a toxic mess.
Investors want it, rising stars flock
Sustainability breeds community involvement, and leads to impact investing. A study by ratings and analytics firm GIIRS shows that investments in green and responsible businesses rose 324 percent from 1995 to 2007. This shows that turning a blind eye to practices that damage our health and the environment is unacceptable for any tier of the business world. Simply doing no harm is no longer good enough. Businesses now face the challenge of actually doing “good,” a notion that should be at the forefront of all business from the get-go.
In addition to attracting investors, sustainable businesses are also appealing to young startups in the business world. A MonsterTRAK poll showed that 92 percent of young professionals would be much more likely to work for an environmentally friendly company, according to GreenBiz.com. Sustainable practices aren't just a phase or a suggestion. They are necessary steps to protect the environment and sustain the planet everyone lives on.
From Minnesota, Gary's written many articles covering the nation's budget crisis. He is currently writing a paper on the President's sequester