It goes without saying that sustainability is important from an ethical standpoint. But why should businesses actively set and work to meet sustainability goals? Is there a business case? Let’s dive in.
Although setting sustainable, eco-friendly targets is sometimes treated as an add-on duty, a chore to be performed, or a cost of doing business, sustainability is not a task but an underlying strategy. And it’s important to realize that sustainability and profit are not mutually exclusive concepts. The UN outlines 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to help create a more equitable future for the world: sustainable economic growth is one of those goals.
Clean and affordable energy is another of the UN’s SDGs, one that makes fiscal as well as moral sense. Today’s energy LED lighting options use a quarter of the energy of traditional incandescents, while also tending to spread light more evenly. Saving energy means saving money: switching bulbs can help businesses meet sustainability goals while adding directly to their bottom line.
Decreasing harmful CO2 emissions, yet another UN SDG, is a matter of global concern. The worldwide shutdowns induced by the pandemic dropped CO2 emissions by more than 5% in the first months of 2020, largely due to a massive shrinkage in world transportation. Although that drop did not last, the shutdown permanently changed many businesses’ perspective on travel. Why create those emissions, and pay those costs, when digital options are widely available? At JOOR, 80% of our retailers say that digital buying has curtailed their need to travel. 39% cite a drop in travel of 50%—that represents a significant savings of time, energy, and money.
Build to Last
The fashion industry is a powerful economic driver, a $2.4 trillion industry that employs 86 million people around the world. It also produces 8-10% of annual global carbon emissions, and is the second largest industrial consumer of water. That’s why smart, forward-thinking brands are building sustainability goals into their process from the very beginning.
Sustainable fashion brands design for slow fashion, rather than fast. They use organic materials that require less water and non-toxic dyes that reduce pollution. Some even recycle and repurpose existing textiles, keeping them from landfill. As well as being eco-friendly in their operations, sustainable brands create well-made, adaptable garments designed to last, reducing waste from the get-go. JOOR allows retailers to filter brand search options by keywords like sustainability and diversity to ensure they can always locate brands that resonate with their mission and goals.
Consider the Consumer
Beyond the ethical imperative and the cost savings, there is another sound business reason to care about sustainability: because customers care about it, very deeply. In a 2021 report, Shopify revealed that 77% of customers were concerned about the environmental impacts of the products they buy. Today’s customers are educated and aware, and they prefer to shop brands and retailers who share their values when it comes to eco-responsibility.
Another study for the World Wildlife Federation noted that the number of online searches for sustainable goods has risen 71% over the last five years. Eco-friendly products and services are in high demand. Customers want to know if products were ethically sourced and produced; that packaging is minimal and environmentally responsible; that they’re spending their money with businesses who care. Sustainability is no longer an add-on: it’s mainstream.
Today’s customers want to understand and calculate the impact of their purchases. Businesses who are transparent about their sustainability issues can gain noticeable traction. Advertising costs are rising even as conversion rates are dropping. According to Shopify’s Future of eCommerce report, businesses are spending more on digital advertising for a smaller return. Making your sustainability efforts and goals part of your story goes a long way to boost your brand with customers.
Sustainability is a multi-pronged transformation. Businesses need to prioritize their sustainability initiatives for longevity as well as for moral responsibility. People, the planet, and profit can all co-exist.
If you’re interested to learn how JOOR can help your business set and meet sustainability goals, request a demo today.