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4 questions to ask your sustainability advisor in 2021

Staying up-to-date on current sustainability trends as the industry continues to change and grow can be a full-time job, and a nearly impossible one at that if you are already trying to manage a business or get one off the ground. This is why hiring a sustainability advisor can be one of the best investments you can make as a business owner looking to run a sustainable, eco-friendly business in 2021. In this article, we’re breaking down exactly what sustainability consultants/advisors do and how they can help your business, as well as the most beneficial questions you should ask your own sustainability consultant in 2021 to get the most out of their expertise. 

 

What is a Sustainability Consultant?

Sustainability consultants are professionals who work with businesses and offer assistance and expertise in creating and maintaining sustainable business practices. They can work for a larger company or be self-employed, and can work with businesses as long-term employees, or short-term contractors. Sustainability consultants can offer a wide array of specialties and services to assist your business, from planning a Green Building, to helping a small business evaluate their current practices and replace them with more sustainable options.  

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No matter what kind of green specialist your business hires, they are a huge advantage for existing businesses who want to become more eco-friendly, and they offer expert knowledge on sustainable research, effective strategies and projects, and current sustainability trends. 

 

Sustainability Trends

Speaking of sustainability trends, the trend we are still seeing in 2021 that certainly doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon is the urgency businesses should feel in the need to transition toward sustainability. 

Sustainable products are growing at a rapid rate, and data shows that consumers will search for and pay more for sustainable products-- especially young shoppers who will quickly become the majority (Carlossanchez.eco). With the public’s attention shifting more towards sustainability, the importance of employing a qualified sustainability advisor is clear. When it comes to finding a sustainability advisor for your business, look for a professional whose expertise and services fit your needs and goals. 

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Being more sustainable in your business is an absolute must in 2021 and beyond, and a sustainability advisor will help you make those changes. Whether you have yet to hire an eco-specialist or you’ve already got one on board, here are 5 of the top questions you should be asking your sustainability advisor in 2021:

  • What is our business’s current carbon footprint?

You can’t make positive change within your business without first knowing where you stand, currently. While there are many factors that affect climate change, carbon emissions are a danger to the environment and to humans. According to an article by Jamie Sarao, a study in 2017 reported a whopping “1.23 million air pollution-related deaths in 2010” in China alone, not to mention global numbers, and reducing carbon emissions “would decrease the number of deaths related to air pollution and help to ease pressure on healthcare systems” (Earth.org).

It’s clear that reducing carbon emissions is one of the most important things for sustainable businesses to focus on in 2021, and utilizing your sustainability consultant’s expertise in determining your business’s carbon footprint is an absolute must.

  • In which area of our business do we most need to make a positive sustainable change?

If you do a quick Google search on how to make your business more eco-friendly, you’ll be overwhelmed by the amount of changes and initiatives out there; the possibilities are endless, and not in a good way. How are you supposed to determine which changes are right for your business, which will have the most impact, and which you’ll actually have the time, money, and knowledge to implement. To best understand which changes you should be making, ask your sustainability expert which areas of your business you most need to focus on. 

This is another great reason you should ask your sustainability expert to calculate your carbon footprint and which of your products or business practices is the biggest culprit, as this data can be useful in determining which area of your business needs the most change. Your sustainability expert may find that your current packaging far exceeds the carbon footprint of other sustainable businesses, or that your business generates a large amount of food waste that could be composted instead, along with a wide array of common business practices that are no longer sustainable in 2021. 

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Whatever your most unsustainable business practice is, your sustainability advisor can help you identify and address it, kickstarting your pivot to sustainable business practices with changes that will actually benefit your business. 

  • What sustainability goals should our business set for the rest of 2021?

Having a clear vision and plan is essential in creating an eco-friendly business, whether you’re starting off sustainable in a new business venture or adjusting an existing company. Your sustainability advisor can help you create this plan, but it won’t be useful to you if it seems too difficult to accomplish or too technical to understand. To get a better understanding of which sustainable initiatives you need to focus on for your business, work with your sustainability expert to create goals to word toward. 

Your sustainability advisor can help you come up with some large, overarching goals, like making your business carbon neutral by a certain date or eliminating all non-recyclable materials from your operations and products, or smaller, more specific goals that you work toward and accomplish on a regular basis. 

No matter what goals you are setting, it’s important that you align them properly with the most current global climate crisis initiatives and science. You can do this by working with your sustainability expert to create Science Based Targets, which are sustainability goals your business can set that must be in-line with the standards of the Paris Agreement. Ensuring your goals are science-based ensures your goals will actually have a beneficial impact, and you can even have your goals certified, making it easier to promote your sustainability efforts to your customers. 

  • How can our business promote our green initiatives?

What first inspired you to learn how to make your business environmentally stable? While we would hope that most of your motivation comes from wanting to reduce carbon emissions and having a positive impact on the environment, you are a business first and foremost. We would wager to bet your desire to be more sustainable is somewhat rooted in wanting to grow your business, and there’s no shame in that! At the end of the day, your business needs to make money, so don’t let the value of your sustainable business efforts go to waste.

As we’ve covered in our article on pivoting your business towards sustainability, countless studies and surveys have found that consumers are going out of their way to find sustainable brands to support, and are more likely to buy eco-friendly products than those that aren’t. If you are going to invest in a sustainability advisor for your business, and commit to making your business more eco-friendly, you should be sharing that information for all your loyal followers and potential customers to see. 

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Talk to your sustainability consultant about the best ways your business can promote your sustainability efforts, and always keep records of your efforts and the progress you have made so that you can share that information with your customers, stakeholders, and anyone else interested in your business’s environmental impact.  

 

Conclusion 

Creating a sustainable business or integrating eco-friendly products and practices into an existing business can be quite the overwhelming undertaking, and it’s not for the faint of heart. Luckily, there are more than enough knowledgeable sustainability experts out there who can help you achieve your sustainability dreams. At Overlap, we help businesses connect with sustainability experts who can do just that. We are passionate about sustainability, and helping your business become more eco-friendly is what we’re here for. If you are ready to invest in the environment and improve the sustainability of your business, contact us today to connect with a sustainability advisor who can help. 

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