In 2022, a successful business won’t survive without thinking about sustainability. Governments are pushing for it. Employees prefer working for green companies. And consumers are increasingly choosing eco-friendly products and services (even if they are more expensive!).
In short, going sustainable just makes sense. These are the trends you need to keep an eye on, what you can expect to see in the coming year, and how you can implement sustainable practices in your business.
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Consumers are rebelling against globalization. Instead of wanting tomatoes from Holland or avocados from Peru, they prefer locally-grown fruits and veggies. Going local is becoming the #1 option.
To effect positive change, build connections in the local community, and add a plus to your reputation points, consider establishing relationships with local charities. Instead of writing an impersonal check to a big-name charity, work closely with an initiative in your area.
Even famous casino companies turned to this kind of practice. SkyCity’s sustainable strategy, for instance, takes on a multi-pronged approach. The company focuses on social investments, making an effort to connect with both international and local initiatives. Consider whether you can do something similar; even a relatively small donation combined with time from your team can affect real change.
Consumers are changing their spending habits. The trend is clear: sustainable choices will become the standard, with companies not offering green options losing out.
Food is a big one, with production accounting for a staggering 26% of emissions. We’re seeing people switch to plant-based diets and local farmers’ markets for their produce.
Fast fashion is also facing an uncertain future. Consumers want to invest in an item of clothing that will last for years. Cheaply made options that need to go in the trash in a month or two and come with excessive packaging are a thing of the past. Consumers are starting to vote with their cash. Look at Patagonia for inspiration.
In general, it’s a lifestyle thing. Consumers want electric vehicles. They prefer to give their money to companies that are trying to be part of the solution, not the problem. They want less packaging, more quality, increased digitization, and far less waste.
In the last few years, businesses were forced to allow their employees to work from home, for obvious reasons – the pandemic. However, the effect on CO2 emissions was striking; in April 2020, for instance, we saw a nearly 20% drop compared to the same month in 2019
However, big businesses are starting to seriously push against the WFH trend. Goldman Sachs chief executive David Solomon branded it ‘an aberration. Ouch.
But companies are struggling to make the transition back to the old ways happen. Why? Employees like the flexibility WFH offers. And if you want to keep the best talent, you have to offer what the market is willing to put on the table.
We tend to think that renewables are far too expensive to implement. Nice idea, but bad for your bottom line. In 2022, with many businesses struggling in the midst of the recession, the hesitance to invest in green energy is understandable.
But we’re seeing a trend that will likely continue in the coming years: net zero is cheaper than using fossil fuels. Research from Oxford University shows it is likely that transitioning to green energy sources will save $5-15 trillion.
What does this mean for a small or medium-sized business? In the first instance, try switching to a renewable energy supplier. It may not necessarily be much cheaper than standard tariffs (as companies still rely on the national grid), but it is unlikely you’ll pay more. Why not make the switch?
Ultimately, going green doesn’t have to be a choice between the environment and a successful business. That’s a misconception that many people still fervently believe in. Incorrectly. Everything points to sustainability, no matter how you slice it.
Workers want low-carbon work-from-home flexibility. Consumers increasingly choose green businesses when making purchasing decisions. And it’s now usually the cheaper option to go green, rather than it being an extra cost.
With governments also pushing businesses to go green (many EU countries, for example, want companies to go net zero in the next few decades), it also makes sense to implement changes slowly over time.