While there is no single definition of sustainability, one of the most universally accepted versions came to be in 1987 at a United Nations Conference. It defined sustainable developments as those that "meet present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs."
To date, this definition of sustainability holds true and has fueled holistic change, not only in the ways that consumers make decisions, but also how businesses operate. Essentially, consumers are changing their lives to be greener and look for businesses that do the same.
Green Grows the Bottom LineConsumers buy green and are improving their own green practices. Of more than 2,200 American adults surveyed for the Tork Report: Healthy People, Healthy Planet™, three-quarters of the American adults surveyed have made at least some changes in their lifestyle to be greener over the past year. The survey also revealed that 61 percent of American adults indicate a company’s green practices would make them at least somewhat more likely to visit the establishment or buy their product/service.
A business’ commitment to and definition of sustainability reshapes day-to-day operations, the products it sells and how customers receive the brand. The reduction, reuse and recycling of key resources can yield positive bottom line results and establish new industry standards.
Here’s a look at how sustainability has touched several key industries:
Higher Education Benefits From Green ThinkingCollege and university students are becoming more aware of environmental standards and are actively looking for higher education institutions that are equally knowledgeable. According to a recent study from The Princeton Review, 69 percent of college applicants in 2011 said having information about a college’s commitment to environmental issues would contribute to their decision to apply to or attend the school. As a nurturing environment for future leaders and business professionals, higher education will continue to serve as a hub for thought leadership and action in the green arena.
Green Restaurants at an Advantage A robust menu of tasty meals and a good atmosphere might not be enough for restaurants looking to secure new customers. In a recent survey conducted on behalf of SCA, more than 2,000 American adults were asked to examine two dining establishments, one of which was focused on environmental and social stewardship and another which was not. Fifty-three percent of adults responded they’d choose the restaurant with a sustainable focus, 23 percent of whom would make the same choice regardless of wait time.
While some respondents (47 percent) confessed to expecting higher prices at the greener restaurant, a nearly equal amount (45 percent) expected prices to be the same at either establishment. These statistics show that convenience and price won’t always conquer the preference for greener options among customers.
Green Facility Development Changing Building LandscapeSome facility managers and companies have made adjustments to janitorial and sanitation practices or institute in-building sustainability programs to bolster green efforts. As noted in the Tork Report: Healthy People, Healthy Planet™, 30 percent of business professionals currently have a sustainability plan in place, and eight percent are currently putting one into place.
A credible way for a facility to show a commitment to sustainability is to acquire third party verification or use products touting these reputable endorsements. Building certifications like LEED® certify that the facility has made verifiable and significant strides to helping protect the profit, planet and people residing in the building, while demonstrating to visitors that the business’ efforts are sincere and valid.
In the more than twenty years since a solid definition of sustainability was established, it continues to unify businesses’ bottom line ambitions and customers’ health and wellness needs, ultimately paving the way for future generations to build upon this progress.
The manufacturer of Tork products SCA ranks as the second greenest company in the world
Tork is a brand of SCA, Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget. SCA offers personal care products, tissue, publication papers and solid-wood products in more than 90 countries. For more information, visit www.sca.com
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