Ecological and Sustainable Trends Facing Business in 2021
By Jolene Rutherford, Updated: 2023-03-16 (published on 2021-04-22)
The modern business landscape is nowadays heavily influenced by environmentalism, sustainability, and various government initiatives that aim to make the world a healthier and more sustainable place to be. Forward-looking business leaders need to invest in green marketing and overall green transformation in order to ensure compliance, but also to appeal to the modern consumer.
Nowadays, customers, as well as online and offline audiences, are heavily invested in making the world a better place. That means boycotting the companies that are not sustainable and eco-conscious. On the other hand, they will heavily support the ones that stand up for the right causes, portray sustainable and environmental values, and invest in preservation, conservation, equality, and sustainability.
Going green and sustainable is a great way to successfully scale your startup or transform the public opinion of your big business in the wake of the environmental revolution. That said, it’s not just about the company’s image, it’s also about its long-term potential.
There is a lot you can achieve by monitoring and acting on the latest ecological and sustainability trends, from financial gain to higher engagement and better PR, all the way to building a better employer brand and beyond. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at the most important trends and how you can use them to thrive in 2021 and the years to come.
The push towards sustainable big business
The oil and gas industry always seems to be on the defensive when it comes to ecological and sustainability trends, simply because the industry has been so wasteful and harmful to the environment in the past. While it is true that big businesses are inherently unsustainable and can be detrimental to the environment, there is plenty that leaders in this industry can do to reshape their company’s image and create a more sustainable business model.
However, it’s not just about having the ability to adopt green practices, it’s about adopting green practices to achieve business success, survive the environmental revolution, and appease the customers as well as the governments around the world. Transitioning to cleaner, more sustainable models of operation in big business will be crucial for the industry’s survival in the years to come.
With a global push towards cleaner energy sources like nuclear, wind, and solar, the oil and gas industry needs to cut on waste production and invest heavily in green transformation. This year is a crucial year for companies to lay out their transformation plans, in order to make truly impactful steps towards sustainability in the next decade.
Building brands on equality and transparency
Modern customers, clients, and business partners care a great deal about the environment, their own image in the public’s eye, as well as ensuring legal compliance. Everyone wants to protect their name and their assets, and you can rest assured that people are no longer keen on doing business with brands that are not sustainable and eco-conscious.
Simply put, neither the consumers nor your business partners will want to be associated with an unsustainable brand. This is why nowadays one of the best brand building steps is to adopt green transformation and sustainable practices across your business.
Firstly, it’s important to set the right brand values on the pillars of sustainability, eco-friendliness, but also equality, zero worker exploitation, green supply chain practices, and more. Secondly, make sure to surround yourself with like-minded partners.
You want your entire supply chain to be as sustainable as possible, because rest assured, your customers will find out if you’re working with companies that exploit their workers or the environment. This would reflect poorly on your own brand, so make sure that your green and sustainable transformation is overarching and far-reaching.
Importance of eco-conscious and sustainable waste disposal
Waste production and its impact on the environment as well as the overall quality of life has been a raging issue in many countries. In fact, this is an important topic in the majority of countries around the world, because the modern business sector produces immense amounts of waste that is harming the natural ecosystems, poisoning the soil and the waters, and affecting public health in the process.
For a company to stay on the right side of the law, build a positive brand image, and cut on needless financial expenditure, it needs to invest in proper waste management and disposal. Companies producing a lot of cardboard and paper waste should invest in something like a vertical cardboard baler that facilitates storage and transportation, but also recycling and reusing.
Businesses producing chemical waste that may harm the environment must implement safety measures and proper waste disposal practices and equipment to avoid legal liability. Big electronic manufacturers need to do the same, but with an emphasis on recycling, reusing, and repurposing old electronic parts to prevent the accumulation of landfills.
Ensuring compliance with laws and regulations
It’s important to note that green transformation is a trend born out of necessity, and as such, it is heavily incentivized by governments around the world, as well as millions of consumers. Governments have the power and the authority to regulate the private sector, and they are using this power to encourage business leaders to embrace sustainable and eco-friendly practices.
Sometimes, these initiatives work as positive encouragement, with businesses getting tax deductions for green solutions and investments. Other times, though, it can be a kind of negative encouragement where businesses will get penalized for not meeting certain sustainability criteria in the realms of conservation and preservation.
Typically, it’s a mix of the two, but what’s important is that you preemptively start adopting green practices in order to capitalize on government incentives and avoid legal ramifications of failing to lower your C02 emissions or not handling your waste properly. This is a big global trend right now and it’s only going to get bigger as countries continue to set zero CO2 and other sustainability goals for the next decade.
Transitioning to cleaner energy sources
The way you power your business and how much energy your company consumes on a yearly basis can be a big red flag for the government and your customers. If your company is wasteful or relies only on unsustainable and hazardous energy sources like oil, gas, and coal, then you risk falling out of favor with the global consumer group, but also your local governing bodies.
In the decade to come, cleaner energy sources will start dominating the residential sector, and it’s important for the commercial sector to follow suit. Transitioning to clean energy like wind, solar, and nuclear, and adopting energy conservation solutions is a big investment, but it’s an investment with a high ROI potential on multiple fronts.
Focusing on water conservation
Of course, it’s not just about energy conservation, because businesses are nowadays faced with the problem of the rapidly deteriorating potable water supplies around the world. Companies of all sizes and in all industries need to invest heavily in water conservation in the next decade to ensure compliance, appeal to customers, and ensure their own survivability.
Remember, if you don’t get into the water conservation game, you are part of the problem. In 2021, you want to audit your company’s water consumption, educate and empower your employees to save water, and introduce water conservation features across your organization. This is the first step towards long-term water conservation that will benefit your business as well as the world around you.
Incorporating eco-friendly workplace practices
Going green in the workplace is another trend that companies in all industries should take advantage of in 2021 and the years to come. Now that employees are more eco-conscious than ever before, they want and need to work for companies that share the same values and actively empower their collective to be eco-friendlier and more sustainable in the workplace.
You can and should implement active and passive conservation features across your business, but also incentivize your employees to recycle, repurpose, and reuse all the materials and equipment they can. This helps create a positive company culture and a great employer brand, but it also builds a company image that will reflect positively on the rest of the industry.
Taking on the role of the educator in the industry
In 2021 and the years to come, companies will have an opportunity to thrive by becoming the educators and authority figures on matters pertaining to environmentalism and sustainability in their sectors. Given the fact that these causes are growing in importance around the world, this is your unique opportunity to start educating the public and everyone in the industry on the importance of green transformation and sustainability.
Strategic partners want to work with authority figures, and customers tend to build meaningful relationships with brands that take on an educative role in their lives. Becoming an educator in your field is, therefore, a chance for your company to earn the respect of the industry and the online world.
Environmentalism and sustainability are growing in importance around the world, and forward-looking business leaders are taking note. Stay on top of these trends and implement these practices in your business to take your company to new heights of success while staying on the right side of the law.
This article does not constitute legal advice.
The opinions expressed in the column above represent the author’s own.