April '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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4 8 P R I N T W E A R A P R I L 2 0 1 9 One of the big benefits of becoming a sus- tainable business may well be found in in- creased employee productivity and engage- ment. Working to become sustainable often means revamping or discarding unproduc- tive ways of doing things. Employees may see streamlined processes and are often able to achieve increased levels of productivity. Sustainable businesses also often tend to be focused on employee enrichment and engagement. Some businesses that practice sustainability will encourage employees to volunteer on company time or provide edu- cational opportunities. Often, employees will benefit from working for a company that cares about the same causes or shares the same goals. Sustainability also benefits the business itself. Leaving aside cost savings, becoming sustainable has a host of benefits for busi- nesses that follow such practices. One is the positive publicity that is often generated by sustainable practices. From environmental benefits to community outreach to employ- ee enrichment programs, being a sustain- able business can generate a lot of material for marketing and image building activities. Becoming sustainable also plays well with customers. Many people like to do business with companies that have shown they're good stewards of the environment and good employers who value those who work for them. The Natural Marketing Institute surveyed 53,000 U.S. consumers and dis- covered that 58 percent of them consider a company's impact on the environment when deciding where to do business. This same group is also more likely to purchase from companies that practice sustainability. MORE THAN JUST GREEN While some detractors of the sustainable business movement will claim that becom- ing sustainable eats into profits, the oppo- site has been shown to be true. Developing sustainability leads to a more efficient op- eration which conserves available resources and reduces effort. This, in turn, helps to increase employee productivity and reduce labor costs. Savings can also be accrued through initiatives like reducing the use of unnecessary lights and insulating walls to reduce heating and cooling costs. Fees, fines, and noncompliance issues can also be reduced, as sustainable businesses are more likely to comply with state and federal en- vironmental laws and regulations. As men- tioned above, one part of the triple bottom line of business stability is profits. You should also keep in mind that a sus- tainable business is one that's nimble and ready to face the changes that are inevitable for any business. By nature, a sustainable business is one that thinks on its feet and is ready to embrace change. Such businesses are also likely to have good communication networks already in place so they can quick- ly get information about new practices and their benefits out to employees and stake- holders. Sustainability also positions a busi- ness to more easily take advantage of new markets and new sales opportunities. One thing to remember is that becoming sustainable isn't just about becoming envi- ronmentally friendly. While doing things in a "green" manner is a big part of sustainabil- ity, a sustainable business is one that endeav- ors to create benefit in many spheres, from the communities in which it operates to the environment to the lives of the people who work for the company to the shareholders and customers who buy products or stock. Focusing on only improving the environ- mental impact of a business is a sure way to miss out on the many other benefits of be- ing sustainable. The focus of the sustainable business goals must be on the impact of the business as a whole, in all areas. Keep in mind that sustainability is a mara- thon, not a sprint. Becoming a sustainable business requires a lot of planning, work, and commitment. From the initial brain- storming session where everyone sits down to determine what goals to target and how those goals will be measured to implement- ing the goal and tracking its progress, a lot of effort will have to be expended. There will also have to be on-going communication with customers and employees to explain the benefits of the new practices and to com- municate what is being done at any given time. In some cases, work will also have to be done to find new suppliers of goods and ser- vices to meet newly established green goals. While sustainability is worthwhile, it can't be achieved without some serious effort. In the end, businesses that practice sus- tainability almost always find that it was worth the time and effort. Many businesses recognize cost savings. Others achieve an image upgrade or attract new customers who want to work with companies that have similar values. Engaged employees work both harder and smarter and are more likely to stay with the company longer and be hap- pier while doing so. Environmental impact is reduced and compliance with regulations can result in reduced fees to governmental agencies, lobbyists, or attorneys. Commu- nities benefit from donations of money and goods or services in the form of employee time, which creates a nicer place to live, in turn enticing more to join the community, forming a larger pool of more qualified em- ployees. PW Kristine Shreve is the director of marketing for EnMart and parent company Ensign Emblem. She developed and writes the EnMart EmbroideryTalk Blog at and the SubliStuff blog at She additionally maintains the EnMart Twitter feed ( enmartian) and Facebook page ( Reach her by email at SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES

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