Simply put, sustainability is the ability to retain or maintain something at a certain rate or level. This could be applicable to absolutely anything, from your weight loss diet to the environment and Planet Earth.
In business, sustainability can be perceived in different ways. But currently where environment, social and governance (ESG) is a primary context in which business sustainability is often referred to, an article published on the Harvard Business School website says business sustainability is doing business without negatively impacting the environment, community, or the society as a whole.
Therefore, the goal is not just building a sustainable business such as manufacturing products using recycled materials. Sustainable business need not be only about organic and green materials. To understand this idea better, consider an automobile manufacturing business. If the automobile being manufactured requires non-renewable fossil fuels to function, this fact does not only mean depletion of natural resources, but also the addition to air pollution which in turn affects the environment and contributes to global warming. However, that is only one and the most basic ways of considering this problem.
In broader terms, sustainability is looking for options that have a longer-term solution instead of a shorter-term, less expensive option. So in taking a look at the same automobile manufacturing business from a sustainability point of view, the business might decide to build hybrid or electric vehicles. Sustainability also extends to the actual manufacturing plant where renewable sources of energy are used, such as electricity from solar panels, optimization of operations and supply chain activities to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases, and even educational efforts, not just for customers, but for youths, and local communities about the advantages of using renewable resources of energy.
In order to achieve business sustainability, several models have been devised to evaluate businesses such as ESG benchmarking and the triple bottom line. These models can be utilized effectively to enhance businesses.
Stay tuned to this space for climate- and sustainability-related issues.