Why businesses need to walk the talk on environmental sustainability

As a business communicating your sustainability efforts, it really pays to keep it real. Meg Jones, Partner at The Shine Collective, discusses the importance of being honest, transparent, and authentic around delivering your environmental sustainability messages.

It’s no secret that Kiwis care about the environment and we all know by now that our environment is struggling to keep up with the massive impact we humans have on it. So, if you run a business in Aotearoa, it’s high time you pay attention to sustainability—not just by saying you’re green, but by really doing your bit for Papatūānuku. This no-nonsense guide will explain why honest sustainability efforts matter, why faking it is bad news, and how to tell your sustainability story without the jargon.

Why being honest matters

Kiwis can smell a rat a mile away. If your business is doing good things, shout it from the rooftops, but be honest and open—that’s how you win trust and loyalty. People are more likely to stick with your brand if they know you share their love for clean beaches, rivers and lakes, and thriving forests and wildlife.

And let’s not forget your compliance and legal requirements. Being upfront about your green efforts can keep you on the right side of the law when it comes to environmental standards, council requirements, legislation and your specific industry standards. Plus, being sustainable usually means being smart—wasting less, saving energy, employee retention and attraction, inventing cool new solutions, and making sure your customers and partners are stoked to work with you.

Leading the charge and getting noticed

When your business works on becoming greener and telling people about it, you become one of the good guys. You can help set the pace, and before you know it, others are following your lead. Being green can help you attract new customers or investors that care about more than just the bottom line.

Ways to tell your green story

Before you share anything you’re doing in the environmental sustainability space, sense check your efforts with people you trust. Will you genuinely make a positive difference with any changes you’ve implemented? Once you’re confident you’re ready, start getting the word out.

You could put together a sustainability report each year on what you’ve done for the environment and share it far and wide via your newsletters, industry news or media if it’s something super innovative. Get onto social media and keep things real; talk about your green adventures and be honest about your challenges. Get involved in local events or even host a few. The issues our planet face are going to require collaboration—so find some like-minded organisations to join you.

If you’ve got a green tick or some kind of eco-award or accreditation, put that badge on everything—your products, your website, and your business cards. Just make sure you’ve got the ‘goods’ to back it up! You can also share stories from your customers and team about what your green efforts mean to them.

Watch out for the greenwash

This brings us to greenwashing. That’s when businesses pretend to be green, but are doing the bare minimum, not showing the full story (or hiding some unpleasant truths) or just ticking boxes. It’s a big no-no. Nobody likes being taken for a ride, and if you get caught out, the backlash can be rough. You could lose customers, get into legal strive, and hurt your reputation.

Wrapping it up

For Kiwi businesses, being green isn’t just a fancy add-on; it’s becoming a must-have. The key is to keep it real, be honest, and share your sustainability story in a down-to-earth way. Not only will you be doing your part for the conservation of our unique environment and support of future generations, but you’ll also be building a business that’s in it for the long haul. And whatever you do, avoid the temptation to fake it till you make it. In the world of sustainability, that’s a recipe for disaster.

The Shine Collective is a professional communications consultancy that provides an extensive range of communications, public relations, project management and strategic advisory services.

Established in 2012, Shine takes pride in supporting our clients’ business goals and objectives through the delivery of effective strategic communications solutions. Our client base is dispersed across Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia, with a particular focus on supporting organisations in the wider Bay of Plenty.

6 ways to share your expertise with the local business community
Voice: Ever wanted to be a Tauranga Business Chamber Board member? Now’s your chance

Related articles