For sustainability to gain true momentum, somebody has to make money.
Luckily for planet Earth, there are rakes of cash to be made in green investment.
According to the Eco-Investor Guide, Eco-Investing is a form of socially responsible investing where investments are made in companies that support or provide environmentally-friendly products and practices. These companies encourage new technologies that support the transition from carbon dependence to more sustainable alternatives.
Sustainability is the hot topic in business right now. Long gone are the days when businesses thought like economist Milton Friedman, who theorized that, “The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits” and that companies have no social responsibility to the public or society; but only to its shareholders. Investors and customers alike care about what companies are doing to combat the climate crisis and how socially responsible they are. If your company is viewed negatively in either of these areas, it will have a devastating impact on your current and future revenue.
Many businesses are waking up to this reality and investing in green initiatives. While previously companies showed reluctance to forking out cash in the name of sustainability, they have now recognised that this initial investment will pay off ten-fold in the near future. Companies have already shown us that investment in the environment will lead to reduced expenses in the long term despite the high upfront cost.
Renewable energy is now the most popular sector in eco-investing. This includes companies that invest technologies like solar, wind or hydro energy but can also involve other initiatives such as LED lighting. While LED lighting might not seem like a big eco-investment, it can be the first start in your company’s journey to a more sustainable future. Becoming more energy efficient is the logical precursor to looking towards generating clean energy, and LED is the quick and easy win. Any type of investment that would benefit the environment through a reduction of carbon emissions would see your company become more eco-friendly. Investors and customers alike will feel better about investing in your company if you are taking steps to address issues that they care about.
Patagonia is a great example of a company that has excelled at eco-investing. Since 2002, the company has donated 1% of its annual sales to eco-friendly organizations – on top of tracking its own environmental footprint, in an industry that has recently come under fire for high pollutants. They have invested over $20 million in eco-friendly startups in areas of sustainable food, water and energy, and their “Don’t Buy This Jacket” campaign on Black Friday 2011 is a perfect case study on how prioritizing sustainability pays off. Its customers and investors buy into their message of a more sustainable future and they have reaped the benefits. Patagonia have been trendsetting in eco-investing well before other companies have considered it, and they’ve proven it can have long term positive effects on not only the environment, but on your company’s bottom line too.
Eco-investing might seem daunting at first, but it has never been easier to begin your journey towards a net-zero future. Your first steps don’t need to involve a massive investment into building a new environmentally friendly office or factory. Your current building can be retrofitted to suit a more environmentally friendly future while saving money for bigger greener projects later on. Starting small with lighting, solar and other green initiatives can go a long way. For some companies, it will be easier to decarbonize than others. However, any steps taken will help the world as a whole.
Governments around the world are starting to provide incentives for companies both large and small to invest into more sustainable efforts. The Global Climate Prosperity Scoreboard, a collaborative launch by Ethical Markets Media and the Climate Prosperity Alliance, estimates that over $1.2 trillion has been invested in renewable energies since 2007. This will only continue to grow globally as more countries sign into law net zero initiatives. It’s clear that eco-investing is not only of benefit to the environment, it’s also beneficial to your company. The time is now to consider a greener future for your company.