Sustainability is no longer just a foreign concept or a westernized ideology. Sustainability is now everyday life, it is the simple things that you do to make the world a better place for the now and the future. Sustainability has been long in existence before campaigners and earth lovers began to bring it to the forefront. Environmentalists have always championed the sustainability agenda with passion and have to some extent had their voices heard and now people are talking notice.
Sustainability should be ingrained in everyone’s conscience and thoughts without limiting it to just the mega businesses or manufactures of products and services. The whole point of taking note of sustainability is so that future generations do not have to read about certain animals or trees or plants having gone extinct , we want them to enjoy the little pleasures of going out into the wild and admiring nature that has been nurtured and cared for.
In a recent webinar on what Sustainability is, Dr. Edward Mungai, CEO KCIC Group talked about Cosmetic Social Sustainability where companies are doing the bare minimum when it comes to sustainability just to be seen as environmentally forward. This is what is holding back most businesses from reinforcing sustainability practices into their operations. He adds that Sustainability needs to be embedded in businesses to avoid greenwashing. Greenwashing is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are more environmentally sound.
For instance, companies that are involved in greenwashing might make claims that their products are from recycled materials or have energy-saving benefits. Though some of the claims might be partly true, companies engaged in greenwashing typically exaggerate their claims or the benefits in an attempt to mislead consumers.
The myth is that sustainability is all about the big, rich old companies that have money to spend. That is the opposite as even SME’s can add value to their businesses with sustainable innovations. SMEs are usually the backbone of society as they give small business owners the chance to compete with bigger companies without feeling too pressed to match their big incomes.
Dr. Edward Mungai goes on to give the reasons why SMEs should be involved in sustainability.
“When a company is sustainable they tend to experience revenue increment because society has become more health and environmental conscious and will choose a company that offers sustainable products and services. More people are becoming aware of what ingredients go into the products they purchase, they will look for that sign of standards of quality and safety. If more people are buying products and services that are sustainable then it makes sense that SMEs should offer the same and in turn they will make much more profit than being rigid in the traditional way of doing business that does not consider the consumers’ need.”
“Sustainability is simply choosing products and services that are more energy efficient, environmentally friendly and use less energy to produce pollution. When it comes to cost management for SMEs, using equipment that utilizes less energy, creating avenues for having less waste, even just using energy efficient lighting in the business premises, will reduce the amount of money spent on running the business to instead focus more on making profit for the business.”
Reputation as a sustainable business
In a Forbes Study, the data collected showed that 93% of all participants surveyed indicated a general concern for the environment, with plastic pollution (40.1%), biodiversity loss (39.1%), and climate change (38%) deemed the top three issues. This means that more people are willing to spend more on products or services that offer sustainably sourced materials or ingredients. As an SME if you are known to offer products or services that are sustainably suitable, then the business’s reputation will be respected and much more preferred, hence more profit.
Social licenses to operate in communities
“Being an SME that takes sustainability seriously will give you the license to be trusted by communities. Society is now more aware of food, products and services that are environmentally friendly and pose no risk to people and nature . When the community trusts that your small company cares about what it puts into the environment, then whatever products and services you are offering will be received more openly and positively”