The importance of Sustainability.
Posted by Adam Walters, Founder of Gear Geek, 15 February 2021
Why Sustainability is vital
In May 2019, a 'climate emergency' was officially declared by the UK Parliament, and the United Nations have recently declared that we only have a decade left to make environmentally-friendly changes to the way we live, eat, work and do business, in order to limit a 'climate catastrophe'. Therefore, the concept of Sustainability is a highly pertinent one given it is crucially about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own.
Sustainability is becoming more important for all businesses, across every industry. 62% of company executives consider a sustainability strategy necessary to be competitive today, while a further 22% think it will be necessary in the future. Sustainability is a key business approach to creating long-term value by taking into consideration how a given organization operates in the ecological, social and economic environment. Sustainability is grounded in the assumption that developing such strategies help foster company longevity.
As the expectations on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) increase, and as transparency becomes ever-more prevalent, businesses are recognizing the need to act on Sustainability and ensure they operate accordingly. Professional communications and good intentions are no longer enough. For example, both Nike and Adidas have both seriously stepped up to act more sustainably. Nike has focused on reducing waste and minimizing its carbon footprint, while Adidas has created a greener supply chain and targeted specific issues like dyeing and eliminating plastic bags.
What can a business do to become more Sustainable?
As alluded to previously, beyond helping to combat global challenges, sustainability can drive business success. Evidence demonstrates that companies with high Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) ratings have a lower cost of debt and equity, and that sustainability initiatives can help improve financial performance while fostering public support. Sounds promising doesn't it? So how can businesses go about achieving greater Sustainability to reap these rewards? Here are four simple but useful tips:
Firstly, Management must ensure that the strategy of the business and its sustainability efforts are aligned. Too often there is divergence between the two, which invariably leaves the sustainability efforts fragile, lacking in commitment and prioritization.
Secondly, businesses need to address compliance, often pertaining to regulations on waste management, pollution and energy efficiency as well as human rights and labour responsibility.
Thirdly, it is vitally important to become reactive rather than proactive. Many of today's leading companies on sustainability, like Nike, Coca-Cola, IKEA, Siemens and Nestle have stepped up largely as a consequence of a 'crisis'. For example, when Nike responded to boycotts and public anger in the 1990s for abusive labour practices in countries like Indonesia by becoming a pioneer in establishing transparency through publishing a complete list of the factories it contracts with and provided a detailed 108-page report revealing pay and working conditions in its factories.
Consequently, transparency is a pre-condition for assessing and improving sustainability practices. Transparency builds on the idea that an open environment in the business as well as with the community will improve performance. The only way for companies to accomplish transparency is via open communications with all key stakeholders, founded on high levels of information disclosure, clarity and accuracy- along with an openness to recognizing faults and improving sustainability practices.
"Sustainability is a major challenge, one that matters beyond individual companies... Just like with overall strategy, there is no 'one right solution' on sustainability. The best solution depends on the ambitions and stakes at each company".
- Knut Haanaes, Professor of Strategy and International Management at IMD.
Gear Geek's commitment to Sustainability.
We at Gear Geek are fully committed to improving the sustainability of our business practices, in ways where we can both realistically and tangibly make an impact. Hence, we are constantly evaluating the types of packaging we use for our products. This involves requesting our suppliers not to send products to us in single-use plastic, and to avoid materials that do not biodegrade. We also liaise with our Warehousing and Logistics teams to control our product sizes and the amount of packaging on our products.
This is often a common dilemma for businesses, negotiating between reducing their carbon footprint by ensuring their goods are distributed and sold sustainably through avoiding single-use plastics and using as little packaging as possible, whilst also trying to ensure the paramount safety and security of their products. At Gear Geek, we feel that we strike a good balance between the two, as our customers are regularly impressed by our safe and secure packaging, whilst also being pleasantly surprised by how snug and efficient our product packaging is.
Moreover, we ensure that all our Warehouses and Offices have a plethora of recycle bins in place and we have measurable targets to observe the level of recycling in all our buildings. Lastly, all our products are shipped over to us via Train; we avoid Aviation as much as possible to reduce our carbon footprint, and we reduce the size of our packaging diligently to help reduce the number of shipments we receive, thus reducing our carbon footprint even further.
Sustainability is imperative to us at Gear Geek, and we will continue to meet- and exceed- our Sustainability objectives, so that we can provide the best quality products to our customers, at the most affordable prices, with the greenest of distribution channels.
That is the Gear Geek pledge on Sustainability.
Stay tuned for more useful and varied Gear Geek resources over the coming weeks and months, including guides on our new and exciting products coming your way very soon.