By Lori Karpman
The term “sustainability” is often used in today’s business vernacular. Consumers care about sustainability and want to partner with businesses that incorporate social responsibility and respect for nature into their strategy, mission, and values. As consumers become more educated, they look for businesses that share their views on preserving the environment.
According to McGill University, “Sustainability means meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In addition to natural resources, we also need social and economic resources.”
While the current generation of consumers does not necessarily look for sustainability when making purchases, the younger and up-and-coming generations consider it to be one of the most important issues of their lives. Both millennials and generation Zers consider climate change as one of their top priorities. These are the generations that will fill the boardrooms and executive seats in the future. They will guide their businesses towards sustainability because it is what they want, and it is what their customers want.
Brands that do not adopt a sustainability perspective into their business model may be seen as insensitive to the needs of the planet and ignorant to the long-term effects of climate change. This ends up affecting their financials because they see their share of the market decline in favor of “greener” businesses.
To avoid this negative impact, here are some sustainable practices every business can employ in any industry:
- Making sustainability a part of the business strategy. This means looking at every aspect of how the business functions and making as many sustainable changes as possible. This applies to all categories of business operations, including purchasing, distribution, administration, and sales. Sustainability should be part of a company’s mission and value statement. This will also help attract and retain a younger generation of employees who see this element of business as a requirement in their world.
- Partnering with employees and franchisees. Businesses should solicit additional ideas on resource conservation from employees and franchisees. Employees and franchisees, many of whom might be of the younger generation, are a great source of ideas on how to reduce waste and preserve the environment. The fact they are so committed and “buy in” to this concept makes it easy to implement such strategies.
- Conserving water and electricity. This can be applied to any and every business. Converting to energy-efficient faucets, toilets, and lighting is a great way to save water, energy, and money. As a result of the amount of water and electrical equipment they use, the foodservice industry is impacted the most. The use of eco-friendly cleaning products goes a long way in creating a more efficient and nature-friendly industry. Even in an office environment, businesses can implement waste reduction methods by replacing water cooler cups with refillable bottle spouts and buying energy-efficient electronic products. If applicable, work equipment can also be set up using environmentally friendly settings.
- Creating an environmentally friendly supply chain. Businesses prefer working with sustainable companies that are environmentally conscious. When sourcing supplies, business owners should compile a list of potential vendors who make the environment a priority and commit to only using them for their business needs.
- Developing a recycling program. This applies to franchisees as well, not just corporate head offices. It is easy to develop an in-house program for recyclable products such as paper, computers, other electronics, plastic, aluminum cans, ink cartridges, and more. Businesses can contract with waste management companies to dispose of any waste they have collected.
Whether or not consumers identify with a brand’s personality, mission, and vision informs their purchasing decision. This has always been true to some extent, but it is even more prevalent today. The only difference is today’s consumers—especially those from the younger generation—place significantly more value on sustainability compared to previous generations, and companies are responding accordingly.
Green franchise opportunities
With increasing awareness surrounding the importance of saving the planet, the fact businesses are becoming “greener” should come as no surprise. With more green franchises on the rise, the sector is no stranger to this trend. There are many green franchises for environmentally conscious entrepreneurs to invest in from a variety of industries. The following industries are currently growing and will continue to flourish as more businesses embrace sustainable practices.
Eco-friendly dry-cleaning services use natural and non-toxic formulas in detergents and solvents. Certain brands provide clients with reusable laundry bags made of ethically sourced cotton, use biodegradable plastic covers, and have energy-efficient laundry machines. There are also home cleaning, carpet and window cleaning, and restoration businesses that use pet- and family-friendly products which are safe for the environment. Keeping the future generation of consumers in mind, offering environment-friendly services can be a huge selling feature.
Solar franchise opportunities are hot right now, as solar grids and panels have become a staple in construction and renovation, in both commercial and residential properties. Many homeowners want to cut down on their energy usage to help save the planet. As a result, they are looking into businesses that provide sustainable home services, such as better insulation; improved air quality; increased home comfort; efficient lighting, appliances, windows, and doors; and an overall reduction in energy costs. Franchises catering to any one of these needs are likely to be successful.
Home services franchises
There is a large range and variety of franchises to choose from in the home services category. From lawn care, carpet cleaning, and window washing to interior and exterior renovations and junk removal, home service brands are thriving. These brands use eco-friendly and pet-friendly cleaning products and packaging. In the age of sustainability, junk removal has gained popularity, as more people are looking to clean out and recycle items they no longer need. Brands that are committed to eliminating waste from landfills, donating to environmental causes, and using eco-friendly products and service providers are bound to do well now and in the future.
As new-age consumers demand environmentally friendly products and services, taking a proactive approach to saving the planet is more important than ever. This is not only a business-to-consumer phenomenon but a business-to-business one as well. It affects every player in the supply chain, as sustainability is non-negotiable for the up-and-coming generations. Each business must strive to include sustainability as one of its core business values. Brands must constantly innovate and experiment to become “greener,” as well as be conscious of their carbon footprint and the impact they leave on the planet.