The upcoming 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference that will be held in Paris in December is often called in the media “our last chance” to change things. It is clear now that the current levels of commitment to reduce greenhouse gases emissions, as proposed by the Kyoto Treaty, are insufficient to achieve the goal of limiting the temperature increase. A lot depends on the outcome of the conference; however, governments are slow to reach agreements and implement them. With the timeframe in which these implementations can have any meaningful impact becoming increasingly narrow, a different approach should be adopted by anyone caring at least remotely about climate change, an approach in which changes happen from the ground up.
For that kind of approach, small businesses can and should be the ground zero for two very simple reasons. They should do it because it makes sense, business-wise, to run a sustainable, ecologically responsible business. And they could do it because the practices small businesses need to adopt to increase sustainability are not that hard to implement.
The major part of running a sustainable business doesn’t necessarily have to include giving up established practices. It is about making smart choices that will improve efficiency, which is the part that most stakeholders should find interesting because of one simple reason — higher efficiency means less waste, which means fewer costs, which means higher profits. Improving efficiency and performance is also an important part of keeping a business competitive, so going down the sustainable road could help small businesses in that sense as well.
Not to be overlooked is the fact that sustainability increasingly transfers into good PR. Sustainable businesses are viewed not only as more aware of the greater scheme of things and their place in it, but also as more prone to long-term planning. Both of these things can encourage new customers to use the services or buy the products of the business, and they can also attract passionate, talented employees who would rather work in a business that cares about the same things they care about. At the same time, any of the clients or potential employees that are not passionate about climate change won’t be deterred by the fact that the business is sustainable, as long as it doesn’t affect the costs of products/service or pay rates in a way that’s unfavorable to them.