If you ask people to define sustainability, you’ll probably receive a different answer each time you ask.

Some will mention environmental concerns, others might include economics, communities, infrastructure, and health in their answers.

The United Nations neatly describes sustainability as: “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

For a business, this means the capability to continue for an indefinite period and sustain itself in a rapidly changing world.

Businesses will often compartmentalise sustainability into three distinct areas:
•Environment
•Social
•Economic

There’s a solid business case to be made for sustainable business practices.

Reduce Expenses:
•Save energy and water to reduce monthly bills.
•Increased staff retention saves on recruitment costs.
•Reduce use of paper and disposable items to cut costs.
•Eliminate waste from packaging to save money.
•Protect yourself against increased prices of scarce resources.

Increase Revenue:
•Attract value centred customers and clients.
•Build loyalty with people who share your values.
•Incentivised end of product life return schemes retain customers.
•Increase your brand value and reputation.
•Customers will pay more for sustainable products.

A business needs to operate by balancing economic, social and environmental impact as we meet the challenges of greening an economy while people continue to consume.

Some data below to start your thinking.