The green dilemma – common sustainability mistakes businesses should avoid

By Staff Reporter - 6 January 2021


Sustainability has long passed the stage where it was considered just another buzzword that people love to utter without actually knowing what it stands for. Nowadays, companies all over the world know they have to do a lot more than profess their love for the environment and adopt a few green measures to earn the status of a sustainable business. But what many entrepreneurs still don’t know is how to get there.

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A lot of business owners have good intentions and genuinely want to embrace practices that will lead them on the path to sustainability. However, intentions alone aren’t enough to make things happen. That’s why we’re now witnessing the rise of so many wannabe green companies that want to do good, but make countless mistakes along the way and fail to achieve their sustainability goals. So, let’s where most businesses go wrong and what entrepreneurs should know if they want to do justice to the concept of sustainability. 

Not assessing your company’s environmental impact

Each company is unique and has specific characteristics, thus the impact on the environment differs from business to business. In order to determine the practices that you should adopt in order to make your business more sustainable, you must first understand how your company’s activity affects the environment. 

Many business owners simply skip this step and get straight into action, without actually taking the time to assess their current situation. This will ultimately lead to setting the wrong goals and implementing a sustainability strategy that won’t bring them or the environment the expected results. If you don’t want to waste time and effort, make sure you take things step by step and conduct the necessary assessments. 

Not having a sustainability policy

Sustainability is not something you do on the side, like a separate activity that doesn’t actually tie in with the nature of your business. Sustainability should stand at the core of your company and be an integral part of every decision and action you take. This can only happen if you have a strong sustainability policy in place and you take the necessary measures to immerse all employees into the sustainable culture you want to create. A sustainability policy is one of the building blocks of a business that wants to do better in terms of environmental protection and financial performance. Without it, all efforts made in this direction will lack coherence and that will affect their efficiency. 

Doing only the bare minimum

If you believe that following government regulations regarding sustainability is enough to establish you as a sustainable business, you’re wrong. Although following these requirements is a good starting point, becoming a sustainable company means you have to put in serious effort and go well beyond the bare minimum. 

There are plenty of sustainability measures you can put into practice right now that are not required by law, but will do you and the environment a lot of good. You can opt for energy saving appliances, use renewable energy sources, work with reputable waste management companies such as Mil-tek with branches in different UK locations, or use smart technology to streamline business operations and reduce the negative impact on the environment. The more you do, the sooner you’ll begin to reap the benefits. 

Not investing enough 

Apart from time and effort, implementing sustainability measures also requires a serious financial investment. This is a sensitive aspect for many businesses that are on a tight budget or are only just starting out, and a lot of them choose to cut corners and allocate insufficient funds for their sustainability strategies. However, there can be no gain without a solid investment. 

Ideally, a business should create a separate budget for all things sustainability-related and find out where the money should be invested. After a thorough evaluation of the business, one should be able to identify the areas that require most attention and act accordingly. That way businesses can focus on high impact measures that will help them devise an effective sustainability plan and guarantee they’ll spend their money wisely.  

Forgetting to measure progress 

Setting the right goals for your sustainability strategy is definitely one of the most important steps you need to take. These goals should be specific, ambitious, realistic, based on exhaustive research and in line with your company’s values and mission. But your work doesn’t finish here. These goals will lose all their meaning if they aren’t measurable or if you don’t take the time to measure your progress. 

Once you’ve established your objectives and put your sustainability plan into motion, it’s necessary to conduct regular evaluations and measure your businesses’ performance sustainability wise. Based on the results, you’ll be able to tweak and adapt your strategy, ensuring the success of your actions. 

Ignoring the details 

When you set out to build a sustainable company it’s easy to get caught up in big sustainability projects and ignore the details in the process. While it’s important to adopt large-scale measures, you should never ignore the smaller steps you have to take before you get there. As they say, you must first learn to walk before you can run. Things like using recycled office items and making recycling part of your company’s culture, striving to reduce waste on company premises or educating your employees on sustainability practices count just as much as that fund-raising campaign for environmental protection you’ve been planning.   


One of the biggest sins a company can make when it comes to sustainability is to adopt environmentally friendly practices only on a superficial level with the sole purpose of building a positive image in front of the audience. This is a deceiving and non-ethical attitude commonly known as greenwashing that in most cases gets exposed and when that happens, it will be extremely difficult for the company to restore its tarnished image. Long story short, if you want to embrace sustainability, you must do it in a genuine and honest way, not just for marketing reasons. 


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