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Rooster Crow

A question of values: Just what is Sustainable Business?
19 September 2013

Chances are that you, like me, have had heard various definitions of ‘sustainable business’. However, none of these definitions really grab me – and while not a definition, it is this phrase from the Sustainable Business Network (SBN) that best reflects our approach to sustainable business:

‘Charting the path to profit that we can be proud of - profit that benefits communities, employees, shareholders and our natural environment.’

It is pretty open to interpretation, but actually that’s perfect. Our version of sustainable business is the one that’s right for us. Working towards that vision started with small, easy steps, the ‘low-hanging fruits’ which set the scene to move on to projects that take more brain power, commitment and dollars.

Establish your sustainable business values 

Sustainability values are at the heart of our business – they drive our giving back programme; who we work with; and how we work. For example, we are committed to making our community and environment a better place through our efforts, and we support others to do the same.

These values are threaded through our business and marketing plans, and our promotional material.

Benchmark yourself

You can’t improve if you don’t know where you started!  In our case, benchmarking included tracking our work-related travel, and resources used, such as water, energy and paper.

The Get Sustainable Challenge provided really useful methodology which we have put into practice.

Manage your footprint

As part of our commitment to sustainability, we have identified the business’ main environmental impacts and challenge ourselves to minimise them.  We buy local, choose sustainable products and ride our bikes – heaps!  You will regularly see our team ‘out and about’ on bikes zipping off to meetings and running errands.  If it’s too far to bike, we’ll take the car or plane, with our ‘giving back’ programme helping to balance our environmental footprint. 

An office renovation gave us the opportunity upsize our insulation (using ‘Green Stuff’), repaint with ‘no VOC’ paints, and install energy-efficient heating and light fittings.

One of my personal favourites towards managing impacts was the purchase of a great coffee machine for the team. It reduced spending on takeout coffees and waste cups, makes great coffee and saves us all time (spent walking to the café) and money!

Develop a ‘giving back’ programme

Cheeky Rooster punches above its weight when it comes to giving back, gifting close to 10% of turnover ‘in kind’ to community and environmental projects.  It’s a real buzz to be part of two outstanding community-led projects, the Whakatāne Kiwi Trust and Cycle Action Whakatāne.

Our next steps include: 

  • Stage two office renovations, which involve the addition of solar water heating and water efficient fittings in the bathroom.
  • Purchase of an electric bike for around town travel. 
  • Getting our hands dirty on a native re-vegetation project that will help offset our work-related travel.

How you implement sustainability in your own office is equally open to interpretation – but probably the most important step is to start thinking sustainability. From there, and within your own situation, you can see where and how sustainability measures make sense for your company.


- SV


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