What is the best way for businesses and institutions to address sustainability? How do you create a culture of sustainability within an organization? And how do you get businesses to seriously engage with sustainability beyond the minimum level of compliance? Andrew Winstone’s Harvard Business Review blog, “Corporate Sustainability Efforts: Feast or Famine?” provides an excellent insight into the current state of affairs. For a broader, more holistic viewpoint, yesterday’s HW Fisher seminar, “Is sustainability still an option for businesses or is it now a necessity?, saw Sustainability Director , Jae Mather, argue that companies need to go well beyond the stage of just complying with regulations, looking at creative and innovative ways to both future-proof operations and to develop new business opportunities. In particular, he promoted biomimicry and “closed-loop” methods, both approaches which show us how we can learn from natural systems and minimize waste. Taking a whole systems approach is also necessary in order to understand what is truly sustainable.
“Sustainability” is a contested concept, meaning different things to different people, but Jae’s definition – “sustainability is – making it easier to do good than it is to do bad” – is a pretty good guiding principle for businesses which are only at the start of their sustainability journey.