By Danielle Cross | Skillsoft Leadership and Business Team
I’ve always bought into the notion that corporations run the world. Business is for profit, and money makes the world go ‘round. In this age of climate change, businesses have an opportunity to save the world. And fortunately, sustainable business practices that tackle climate change can be quite profitable for businesses. It seems consumers care about the planet enough to adjust their purchasing habits by favoring brands that strive to protect the environment and make positive impacts on society. What a breath of fresh air (literally!) to learn that consumers care. If that’s not enough to persuade businesses to join the sustainability movement, the damaging effects of climate change threaten to worsen supply chain disruptions we’ve already felt with the COVID-19 pandemic. The intense droughts, water scarcity, severe fires, rising sea levels, flooding, catastrophic storms, and declining biodiversity that are triggered by climate change disrupt global trade, putting strain on business operations everywhere, not to mention the coastal communities around the world that are hit hardest. My heart goes out to the climate refugees fleeing their homes, made impossible to inhabit by this crisis.
So how can businesses save the world, you ask? Simply put, they need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (especially carbon) and minimize waste (which by the way also produces harmful emissions while leaching chemicals into groundwater, or it ends up in our oceans). These heroic actions will halt the warming of our climate which enflames all of that extreme weather I mentioned earlier. Sustainable business practices equate to embracing those actions, and transitioning to more renewable energy, while uplifting workers, local communities, and wider society. A tall order indeed. So, let’s get started!
As companies jump on this people- and planet-friendly bandwagon and collaborate with their supply chain partners to design more efficient systems, our global economy will shift from a linear to a circular system. Our current linear, take-make-waste economy mass produces goods without regard to the energy used, emissions released, or waste created along the way—all of which exacerbate climate change. A circular economy, on the other hand, is more sustainable because goods are kept in the economy for as long as possible. Products are not only made more durable, but are designed to be repurposed, recycled, repaired, refurbished, reused, leased, and shared—maintaining the value of materials for as long as possible and minimizing waste. Today’s goods become tomorrow’s resources; our planet’s beauty and bounty preserved for future generations. And ultimately, the earth is saved. What could be more valuable than that?