While it is hard to believe that the concept of 'green' hasn't hit-home with most business owners, there are still far too many businesses that consider going green as a 'nice to have' rather than seeing it as a journey towards sustainability and prosperity.
Going Green has become a handy by-line in an increasingly complacent world, where most businesses tend to go through the motions rather than embrace the changes and improvements a good sustainability system can deliver. Many executives still believe the sustainability challenge is one faced by a single overworked and undervalued member of staff as a means to meet an expectation by clients or shareholders when in fact, sustainability and going green is a critical success factor in today's competitive environment.
Being 'green' requires a commitment to controlling the impacts associated with running your business. It demands that you consider every element of your production cycle, and that you do something about the ways that you impact our environment; your local community; your personnel and a host of other aspects of operations. It also demands that you take effective and sustainable measures designed to reduce the amount of natural resources you consume in producing your product or service, and that is where businesses generally fail the litmus test.
April welcomed a raft of cost increases to South African businesses, ranging from the sublime 9.4% electricity increase to the ridiculous hike in fuel, water and waste management costs. Yet, so few businesses have done anything to counter these increases - other than to raise their prices and shrug their shoulders, when in fact they could be keeping prices down by simply doing things better. The hospitality sector is a good example of how this works..! South Africa has one of the highest 'rate creep' factors in the world when it comes to hotel accommodation costs. That's not because it is becoming increasingly difficult to control input and operational costs, but because they can and do get away with it! Using far-fetched and totally ridiculous comparisons between local rates and Dollar-based rates in other parts of the world, guests are reminded how 'lucky' they are at the'fact' that the same quality or rated property in another country costs three times as much. Really? In a country that has an estimated twenty-two thousand accommodation products, how can we take ourselves seriously when less than 100 of these have been certified as sustainable?
The same goes for any number of services and products in South Africa today. Instead of simply passing production and manufacturing cost increases to consumers, do something about controlling your consumption! By ignoring the facts - related to how you do business, and simply passing the cost down the consumer line, businesses become noncompetitive, unsustainable and eventually, closed. So our message to business has to be simple - stop simply accepting that guests, clients and visitors will pay your inflated and unmanaged prices indefinitely. The point has been reached where consumers haven woken-up to the supply-chain process, and they will switch their allegiance to those businesses that make actual efforts to protect them from price increases while at the same time meeting their sustainability expectations.
Green isn't a colour - its a way of life and a commitment to sustainability which is demonstrated by your ability to reduce consumption and manage the impacts that you have on the planet, it's people and our collective future.