I’ve been thinking a lot about sustainability recently both through my work at Award Force and also on a more personal level. It has become fashionable for corporations to talk about sustainability and I think, when done sincerely, it represents the best of humanity. I know there’s a certain level of green-washing where corporations will pretend to be sustainable just to check a box and try to look good. But we have to be optimistic and expect that our business leaders are doing what’s right and looking to the future, not just the present. A sustainable business is one that ensures our children and their children can run their own businesses tomorrow. In other words, we’re not going to trash the planet for our own benefit at future expense.
One of the challenges of climate change is the concept of intergenerational ethics. Is it fair for us to live and enjoy our lives now, use up natural resources for profit, while future generations suffer the consequences of our actions? No, it would be unethical to do this. We have an obligation to make sure the planet can continue to support intelligent life long into the future.
All corporations should be thinking about sustainability and reducing their impact on the environment. But sustainability is broader than just environmental concerns. It’s also about having a profitable business through sustainable means – honesty, integrity, sound corporate governance, fulfilling and engaging employment opportunities, delivering value for customers, and last but not least, giving back to the community.
I’m very lucky to be able to work for a fully remote company that is committed to operating sustainably. Huge reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can be saved through remote work by dispensing with the need to commute to and from work each day. One study found a net energy saving of 9.33kWh per person per day and this is after accounting for work-related home energy consumption. But there are also land-use benefits through reduced demand for office space and benefits to air quality and traffic congestion. I’ve also read that lunch at home is greener and we’re likely sending less packaging and single-use coffee cups to landfill.
I do believe it’s no longer enough to simply make a profit. We also need to demonstrate it’s not at the expense of the environment or the future of life on earth. The good news is doing the right thing comes with benefits. Employees and customers are more engaged, loyal and committed. There are cost benefits to be made from improving energy efficiency, lowering travel-related expenses, building maintenance costs, water use, and waste disposal. Best of all, we get to feel good about what we’re doing.