If your company is in the midst of making a sustainability plan, you are in the right place. Here are the top sustainability mistakes that organizations make, and how you can avoid them. Keep these tips in mind when it’s time to make your company more sustainable.

Changes Will Not Make Themselves

Chris Gadek, Head of Growth AdQuick

After deciding to dive into sustainability, finding the right stakeholders to make your plan work is key. You will need two main categories of people: stakeholders who approve the projects and allocate funding, as well as individuals who will perform the work and get the job done. When building this team, it is critical to find stakeholders who truly stand behind the benefits of sustainability, as they will help to champion your business’s mission and advocate on its behalf.

Not Setting Goals

Dylan Trussell, CMO Culprit Underwear 

One of the first steps in making your company more sustainable should be evaluating your company on its current practices, determining where to focus your efforts, and then setting the right goals. If your company does not take the time to set goals beforehand, then key steps may be missed. There are several tools to help companies in this area, including taking a life cycle assessment, or a materiality assessment.

You Need to Figure Out What Sustainability Means to You and Your Brand

Michael Jankie, Of Natural Patch

Many people just think of sustainability as “going green”. However, sustainability is a broad concept and can affect many things such as social and economic costs on the business. It is critical to truly figure out what sustainability means to your brand going forward and how it will affect your business overall.

Only Using Sustainability for PR Purposes

Shaun Price, Head of Customer Acquisition MitoQ

If your company is trying to become more sustainable, it is critical to do your research beforehand and be ready to fully commit. Becoming a sustainable business could entice new customers to your brand, but this should not be your only motive. If so, this could end up poorly for your business. To prevent this, making a sustainability plan can help you to ensure that your company is taking the right steps towards changing your company values and practices in the same light.

Not Checking The Costs

Jeff Meeks, VP of Sales and Marketing EnergyFit

For most businesses, shifting business practices to be environmentally-free can be expensive and comes at a high up-front cost. This high cost will usually pay off years later, but it is important for businesses to fully assess whether or not they can afford changing their entire supply chain to using recyclable or more sustainable raw materials, for example. Try finding a balance that your business will be able to handle.

Not Operating in the Right Building

Katie Kiernan, Co-Founder Nue Life

Something that businesses often overlook when trying to become more sustainable is forgetting to evaluate their own offices and work environment. Sustainable businesses should make sure that they are operating in an eco-friendly building, from everything to electricity to recycling habits. Try making changes such as adding water refill stations around the office, in order to reduce the use of plastic water bottles. If your company uses a lot of paper, opt for environmentally friendly paper and try to eliminate waste in printing. Or, try to cut down on the use of paper in the office and go digital. This will help to make sure that sustainable values align across the business. 

Lack of Business Support

Shahzil Amin, Founder WellBefore

Sometimes when businesses try to become more sustainable, they just focus on winning over the executives at the top. However, in order to gain full business support, it is critical to engage all levels of employees in the company’s mission to go green and become sustainable. 

Forgetting About Feedback

Olivia Young, Head of Product Design Conscious Items

Sometimes when delivering a new strategy, businesses focus all of their attention on the launch, and then forget about the feedback. Feedback is so important for sustainability because you need to hear what employees inside the company are feeling. Having feedback will help you to identify any future problems and address them head on. To get feedback, ask questions, make a survey, or even seek help from a business coach.

Lack of Sustainability Education

Lauren Kleinman, Co-Founder The Quality Edit 

If your business is moving towards becoming more sustainable, then make sure you are educating your management team and employees on what exactly this means for your business. Many companies want to go green, but then have a lack of knowledge on what this actually means. Try finding a sustainability management software solution to help your company learn more about what it means to be sustainable and how to make an environmentally sustainable road-map for your business.

Failing to Test New Strategies Beforehand

Riley Burke, Growth Marketing Manager Ohza Mimosas

The goal of a sustainable business should be to have a positive effect on the environment, or to have a positive effect on society, or a combination of these two areas. However, if companies fail to test these new strategies beforehand, it could be detrimental to the business. Therefore, monitoring business operations while your business implements new strategies is key to having long-lasting, sustainable results. 

Not Enough Executive Action

James Ville, Chief Product Officer GunSkins

When rolling out a new sustainability plan for your company, executives and business leaders must play a key role. If businesses do not have enough executive action, this could cause a disconnect among employees. With sustainability, executives and leaders must make a conscious effort to lead sustainability action and to be a role model for their team.

Not Investing in Smart Appliances and Technology

Lindsay McCormick, Founder and CEO Bite

Businesses waste thousands of dollars each year by overusing electricity. If your business is in the process of implementing more eco-friendly changes, you should consider investing in smart technology that will power down when not in use. Try researching commercial smart lighting systems that will not only cut costs for your business, but will ultimately reduce electricity and help the environment. 

Avoid Greenwashing

Omid Semino, CEO Diamond Mansion

With businesses trying to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly, comes the tricky tactic of greenwashing. This is when companies spend more money on marketing themselves as eco-friendly, than actually minimizing their environmental impact. Instead, be transparent with your products and efforts to become a more sustainable brand. Avoid using too many buzz-words on advertising and focus on the sustainability of the materials, packaging, and manufacturing of your products.

Don’t Focus Solely on the Profit

Patrick Decker, President and Chief Executive Xylem

The younger generation is drawn to higher purpose and mission — ‘why are we doing this?’ It’s not purely the profit motive.

You Must Be Authentic

Howard Schultz, CEO Starbucks

In this ever-changing society, the most powerful and enduring brands are built from the heart. They are real and sustainable. Their foundations are stronger because they are built with the strength of the human spirit, not an ad campaign. The companies that are lasting are those that are authentic.