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Sustainability Principles – Rules of the Road to a Greener World

Sustainability – it’s one of the hottest buzzwords of the 21st century. However, it’s a difficult concept to nail down, particularly for small businesses without an understanding of basic sustainability principles. While there are dozens, perhaps hundreds, of different principles related to sustainability used in different areas and for different needs (Deep Ecology, CERES, ICC Business Charter, permaculture, etc.), there are a few “golden rules” that all business owners should know.

Maintain and Enhance Quality of Life – Businesses and organizations should commit to maintaining and enhancing the quality of life enjoyed by residents in their local area. This applies to education, employment, income, healthcare and more.
Enhance Local Economic Vitality – By investing in the local area, businesses and organizations can enhance local economic vitality and spur new business growth, as well as improve income for area residents.

Maintain and Enhance Environmental Quality – Businesses and organizations must also maintain (protect) and enhance (improve) the quality of the environment within their local areas, and the world as a whole.
Each of these broader principles can be narrowed down. For example, maintaining and enhancing environmental quality can mean a variety of different things, from increasing recycling to finding alternative materials for product construction to moving to a zero waste facility with no materials sent to the landfill. 

Investing in the local area could include anything from sponsoring a local softball team to helping to create educational outreach programs to help underserved and underprivileged individuals get a better education and become more successful, breaking the poverty cycle.
As a business owner, it is your responsibility to come up with your own list of pertinent sustainability principles. What does your business stand for? What are your goals in terms of social and environmental responsibility?

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