What is a Sustainable Business?

Whether you are running your own, thinking about setting up in business, or choosing from whom to buy, it is important to think about what sustainable business really means.

Sustainability is about creating something that endures. But more than this, it is about thinking of the planet, and of future generations, in every decision that is made. The needs of the present can be met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. A sustainable business understands the importance of planet care, people care and fair share – the core ethics of a permaculture way of life. And understands that profit is not the only way to ‘add value’. 

A sustainable business is one which keeps the three pillars of sustainable development in mind. It is vital that the environmental and social spheres are given equal prominence to the economic one. 

The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals can be useful keys in defining and creating targets for a company’s goals and ambitions. They can also, of course, inform good practice when it comes to ESG strategies. 

Sustainable businesses can also think about the core categories of:

  • Energy use and emissions.
  • Water use.
  • Land use and ecosystems.
  • Resources and materials.
  • Waste

Framing decisions by thinking about these categories can help create truly sustainable systems.

Of course, businesses should also think about the social aspects of everything they do – the impact on people throughout the entirety of a product’s lifecycle. 

Transparency and accountability are key. A sustainable business must not just pay lip service to green ideals. They must measure, record and demonstrate best practice throughout their operations.

As business owners, we have a duty to do all we can to operate in accordance with sustainable ethics. And as consumers, we have a duty to choose those who are doing all they can to create a better world. 

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