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Flexo Sustainable : Summer 2012
As you may remember from fifth grade biological science, the planet we live on is one big interconnected biological system. So sustainability means that we use this system's re- sources (air, water, land, energy, raw materials) in a manner that will not hinder (zero pollution or overuse) future genera- tions' ability to use these resources. With nearly seven billion people currently living on the planet, and all of them want- ing to be rich, get rich or get richer, we must start to use the resources we have in much smarter ways. Sustainability is that way and business is the perfect mech- anism to deliver smart resource use to the planet's people. Here are four great reasons why sustainability should inte- grate be into every business: 1. Sustainability can reduce business risk. For busi- nesses, risk is omnipresent. A sustainability approach (people, planet, profit) to business can reduce some of those risks, such as: • Litigation -- Unfortunately, each and every busi- ness is at risk for lawsuits. Are you using chemicals in your business that could end up in the local air, groundwater or soil? Finding ways to eliminate the use of these materials can align your business with the environment and reduce risk. • Cleanup -- Accidents happen. By using safer or more environmentally-safety measures for your business, you can eliminate the need for cleanup, and thus eliminate that cost. Brainstorming ways to eliminate accidents and subsequent cleanup costs before they even happen is smart and sustainable. • Environmental Regulations - Environmental laws are in place to protect the public (people) and the environment (planet) from hazards. Instead of ask- ing "how do we comply?" A much different question should be asked, namely, "What if there was no need for compliance?" Logical follow-ups include: "What if we could point our company at the target of low or no waste, low or no emissions, low or no energy use?" and "What if we exceeded the compli- ance standard so much that it becomes irrelevant?" This equates to fewer legal costs, no compliance costs, to wit, fewer problems. 2. Sustainability can cut your costs. This is the low hang- ing fruit of sustainability and it's not difficult to take on. Focusing on what you take, make and waste in your buildings, fleets and manufacturing plants can be a successful sustainable strategy for both the environment and for your company. What if you could reduce your energy costs by using a sustainable resource or a more efficient process? What if you could reduce your waste disposal costs by creating less waste through recycling or pre-cycling? What if you could use less water? What if you could use the sun to pre-heat the water you need for the process? What if you could reduce your water, energy and waste? 3. Sustainability can build your brand. You survive and thrive as a business because your customers choose to do business with you. If you lose the respect, trust or loyalty of your customers, you're finished. Consumers today hold companies (your brand) to a much higher standard than ever before. They expect and reward companies that hold themselves responsible for the people the company affects and the planet it uses re- sources from. A sustainability focus allows you to make sure that you earn a profit while keeping your eyes on the positive treatment of people and the planet as well. Short-term profit margin focus only is no longer ac- ceptable to customers and they can let the entire world know with one mouse click. The more your company acts like a decent local and global citizen, the more your customers appreciate it and the more loyal they are to your brand. 4. Sustainability can grow your revenue. From a busi- ness perspective, this is the most fascinating area of "being green." New products and services are devel- oped every day, but what if business used its problem- solving skills with sustainability as a guide? Viewing the market through the business lenses of sustainability allows you to see the market in a way you've never seen it before and capitalize on what you see. Because it's a paradigm shift, you may be able to see solutions that others focused only on short-term profit can't see. Let's say you're in the industrial floor polisher industry and everyone in your industry is worried about the toxic/hazard- ous chemicals used in the process. You are less likely to see that you can solve the problem with a totally different clean- ing process (using water, ionization, for instance) rather than using less toxic strategies, unless you're seeing the world through integrated sustainability lenses (reducing negative impact on planet and people). Through these lenses, our products and services take on new dimensions. We may even be able to take our core competencies and create new problem-solving products for the global market, which will lead us to long-term revenue growth. Sustainability is good business for the planet, good for the people of the planet and good for business. What is your company waiting for? About the Author: Steve Trash® is a nationally recognized speaker and consultant. Steve utilizes his distinct presentation style to speak on the importance of sustainability and action- able guidelines to enact eco-friendly practices in business. As a member of the National Recycling Coalition and the North American Environmental Education Association, Steve is spearheading the campaign to reduce wasteful corporate procedures and promote environmentally sound business methods. To learn more about Steve's speaking, please visit www.SteveTrash.net, call 256-710-7216 or email GreenSteve- Trash@gmail.com. 14 Sustainable FLEXO SUMMER 2012 www.flexomag.com