Environmental Sustainability: The Importance, Issues and Benefits

By Beth Howell on February 7, 2024
Environmental Sustainability: The Importance, Issues and Benefits
Beth Howell
Beth Howell

Beth has been writing about the environment and climate change for over four years now – with her work being featured in publications such as The BBC, Forbes, The Express, Greenpeace, and in multiple academic journals.

It's estimated that plastic releases more emissions per year than aviation and shipping, which is mostly down to its reliance on oil, contributing to climate change. And given humans throw away 353 million tonnes of plastic per year, this figure is likely to increase in the coming years. 

Not only are we eating through fossil fuels at a rapid rate, but we are also destroying the air, land, and water quality through the emissions associated with this industry.

If we want to move away from this destruction, we need to intertwine environmental sustainability into our everyday lives.

So let's look at why environmental sustainability is crucial, how can we achieve it, the benefits of it, and the environmental challenges the planet currently faces

Want to find out how your brand can reduce plastic waste? Check out our guide on Capturing the Conscious Consumer, where you can find the benefits of how to introduce a sustainable strategy, advice on how to do this effectively, and ways CleanHub can help you with the transition.


Piles of trash in a landfill with a fire in the distract and a smokey sky


What's on this page?

01 | The importance of environmental sustainability
02 | What are the benefits of environmental sustainability?
03 | How to achieve environmental sustainability
04 | Economic growth and environmental sustainability
05 | ESG and environmental sustainability
06 | The bottom line


The importance of environmental sustainability

Environmental sustainability is one of the biggest hopes we have in reversing the climatic disasters taking place on the planet right now.

To give you a better idea of how it works, let's take a look at why we need environmental sustainability for a healthy future.

There isn’t a future without environmental sustainability

Our increasing levels of waste and the rising global temperatures suggest our planet is not on a good trajectory — with some experts claiming we're heading towards the point of no return.

Without environmental sustainability, climate disasters and severe weather events will become increasingly common. We only need to look at the past couple of years to see this unfold in real-time. 

For example, more than 33% of Pakistan went underwater in 2022, due to severe floods caused by climate change. It was estimated that 33 million people were displaced and roughly 1,200 died from this disaster — and this all started with a severe heat wave that melted glaciers, followed by an extreme monsoon.

At the same time, more than 66% of Europe received a severe drought warning — the worst drought in at least 500 years. 

And in 2023, countries across the world broke records for blistering temperatures. For example, Vietnam recorded its highest temperature ever at 111.3 °F  in the south of Hanoi on 6th May, while Sanbao (a remote town in China) reached a national record of 125.96 °F. China’s capital even endured a temporary ban on outdoor work during its hottest month of the year.

This all seems very bleak — but there is hope that we can change things around. That's why cities around the world have already started working towards environmental sustainability. Find out more by visiting our page on the nine greenest cities in the world

Wildlife protection

People around the world have become disconnected from nature over the past century, so it's easy to forget how dependent we are on wildlife.

Everything is connected — decreasing fish populations can put large sea mammals at risk of extinction, just the same as lower smaller pollinator numbers can put human food stocks at risk.

Unfortunately, we are failing wildlife miserably at the moment. Humans are pumping out harmful emissions, destroying habitats for industrialization, wiping out ecosystems for materials, poaching animals, littering waste in the open environment, and contributing to ocean pollution. 

We urgently need to protect habitats and precious ecosystems — and here's how:

  • Protect vulnerable animal populations When laws are put in place to protect animals, populations naturally rise. The figures speak for themselves. For example, the ban on commercial whaling in 1986 led to a strong recovery of humpback whales around the world, and now this population is thought to be around 93% of its original size
  • Continue conservation efforts – We need to carry on supporting coral reefs, rebuilding wetlands, planting trees in depleted regions, and creating wildflower meadows. All of this needs to be done with expert knowledge, to make sure it's done effectively and puts wildlife first
  • Introduce more legislation on protecting nature – As well as protecting wildlife, we need to protect the nature they live in too. But this can only be effective if laws are put in place. For example, fully protected marine areas can increase the total biomass of marine life by more than 400% 
  • Reduce emissions – We drastically need to reduce our emission output to limit the impact of climate change and global warming. As the years go by, we're seeing more severe weather events, which are destroying habitats, reducing food and water supplies for animals, and causing detrimental impacts on population sizes of some animals
  • Create a circular economy – Fed up of seeing plastic waste littered around the planet? The key solution is to introduce a circular economy. This way, we can feed materials back into businesses, reduce our reliance on raw materials, lower emissions, and lessen the chance of animals eating plastic

Improved human health 

It's estimated that an average of 9 million people die globally from air, water, soil, or ocean pollution each year. This clearly shows that we need environmental sustainability to not only improve our health but also remove a major threat to life. 

From breathing in polluted air to eating contaminated food, there are numerous ways in which environmental degradation is taking a toll on our lives. You can find out everything you need to know by visiting our page: How Does Plastic Impact Human Health? 



What are the benefits of environmental sustainability?

Embracing sustainability is crucial for reversing climate change. Its benefits aren’t just limited to nature either — there are also numerous commercial and financial benefits for brands and organizations. 

Here are the top benefits of environmental sustainability for businesses.

Reduced energy costs

Energy and water consume a massive chunk of organizations' finances.

When companies focus on reducing their consumption to achieve environmental sustainability in the manufacturing process, they observe long-term savings. For instance, businesses that install solar panels can save up to 70% on their electricity bills, according to the Solar Trade Association.

Attracts a wider customer base

Roughly 73% of Americans and 84% of Europeans are likely to stop purchasing from companies that don’t incorporate sustainability in their businesses and don’t care about climate change. 

This shows that sustainability is no longer a choice for brands — they need it to stay relevant in the business arena. 

And by publicizing your green initiatives, you’ll also gain a new customer base that wasn’t aware of your sustainable business practices. 

Tax benefits

Many governments around the world have acknowledged the current environmental crisis, and are providing tax incentives to companies carrying out sustainable business practices. The main ones include:

Improves workforce morale 

Introducing sustainability in a business is a collaborative effort. When teams within organizations work and collaborate toward developing green initiatives, they feel a sense of pride, which improves their morale and positively impacts the corporate culture.

In fact, a recent study found that 71% of job seekers want to work for environmentally friendly employers.

Lowers environmental impact

Having an environmentally sustainable business isn’t just about profitability and making your business look good, it can make a real difference.

By incorporating eco-friendly practices, you’ll reduce your company’s carbon footprint, which will result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions, less waste, and improved air, land, and water quality. 


How to achieve environmental sustainability

Achieving environmental sustainability isn’t possible without striving on both personal and professional levels. So here’s how you can make your life and business more sustainable:

In personal life

Change starts from within, so there’s no better way to improve the environment without changing our day-to-day lives.

Here are a few tips that you can incorporate into your daily life to help reduce your carbon footprint:

  • Try to consume less — Products all require materials and energy to make them. That means it's a good place to start by reducing your overall consumption
  • Find eco-friendly brands — If you do need to buy something, make sure the brand you choose has a positive environmental impact. For example, does it have a low energy rating, use limited packaging, or utilize sustainable materials?
  • Try to eliminate plastic from your life — It's a good idea to start off small. For instance, getting reusable straws, cups, and grocery bags might seem like small swaps, but they have a big impact over time
  • Investigate labels  for harmful materials/ingredients — This goes for all products, but especially on clothing (steer clear of polyester!)
  • Avoid wasting water — You can even go a step further and recycle water where possible, or carry out rainwater harvesting
  • Cut back on car emissions — An easy way to do this is by simply opting for public transport, cycling, or walking, rather than driving
  • Invest in renewables for your home — Solar and wind are both much more accessible and affordable for homeowners than they were a few years ago
  • Consider the carbon footprint of your diet — Reduce meat consumption (or avoid meat altogether), purchase from your local farmer’s market, and avoid wasting food
  • Spread the word — The more people that do their bit for the planet, the better

In the business world

The business world is different from our personal lives, but it also has massive potential for improvement. That's why we've listed a few ways you can make your business eco-friendly:

  • Assess your products — It's important to look at the whole picture too, which means you should conduct a life cycle assessment of your product or service
  • Rethink your supply chain — Change the manufacturers or service providers who don’t consider environmental sustainability in their business. 
  • Create an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategy — More businesses are having to consider creating an ESG plan, as governments around the world introduce new laws and consumers ask for greener brands
  • Get your employees involved — By making your employees a central part of your environmental sustainability strategy, you can ensure there will be change in all areas of the business
  • Make your office space eco-friendly — Think greenery potted around the place, solar panels on the roof of the building, heat pumps to keep employees warm, and efficient recycling facilities in place
  • Incorporate the circular economy in your manufacturing process — Not sure where to start with this? We'd recommend getting a packaging assessment from an expert, who will have the know-how when it comes to reducing waste and feeding plastic back into the economy
  • Collaborate with third-party companies — These can help you improve the environment, reduce your carbon footprint, and lower your plastic consumption. And that's what we do at CleanHub! Companies invest through us in the collection and safe processing of plastic waste in coastal regions. Head over to our live dashboard to see real-time data of the recovered material coming in.


Plastic items littered amongst greenery in a local town


Economic growth and environmental sustainability

Many conventional business practices are immensely harmful to the environment. Take plastic packaging in ecommerce, for example. A recent study found that ecommerce generates around 4.8 times more packaging waste than in-store purchasing. 

Even though these practices might be cheaper than a sustainable alternative, we need to ditch them to align profits with both people and the planet.

And as companies grow, and profit climbs, energy use also increases, which is often derived from non-renewable sources, such as fossil fuels, and pollutes the environment. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean that the business world is doomed. Brand leaders simply need to look at more innovative ways to run their ship and become more environmentally sustainable.

And sometimes, innovation isn’t even required — some brands just need to make a few small swaps around the business to incorporate sustainability into everyday operations. Simply switching to solar or wind power, instead of fossil fuels, can have a hugely beneficial impact on the environment — and it can cut costs in the long run.

The only issue is these innovations or swaps in practice is that they require initial investment. But given the expected future of businesses revolves around sustainability, this seems like an obligation, rather than a choice if companies want to stay ahead of the curve. 


ESG and environmental sustainability

More people are becoming acquainted with the terms Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) — but what exactly is it?

An ESG strategy is a framework businesses adopt to show they take the environment, social impact, and governance seriously. 

Sustainability is intertwined with the first pillar — the environment — meaning businesses need to adopt greener practices if they want to have an effective ESG strategy. 

When it comes to shaping up a business, different industries will have different priorities — for example, ecommerce drastically needs to look at its transport emissions, while the food industry should analyze how to reduce plastic packaging. 

But brands are stepping up. In fact, 96% of the world’s biggest 250 companies now report on sustainability or ESG matters, according to KPMG.

Want to learn how you can market your ESG strategy effectively? Check out our guide on how to communicate your ESG strategy


The bottom line

Environmental sustainability is the key to human well-being in the present and future.

The only way to reverse climate change and avoid climatic disasters is to live in harmony with nature. By compromising the planet, we are compromising our growth, development, and even survival.

We each need to assess how we can lessen our impact on the planet — on both an individual level and a business one. 

Want to find out how your brand can reduce plastic waste? Check out our guide on Capturing the Conscious Consumer, where you can find the benefits of how to introduce a sustainable strategy, advice on how to do this effectively, and ways CleanHub can help you with the transition.

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