If you think sustainability is just about saving the planet, you're wrong.

It's time we stopped seeing 'sustainability' as a reaction to a problem and started seeing it as a growth opportunity.

By Lee Petts, managing director

Of course, being more thrift with energy and raw materials, which are often derived from finite resources, will help to safeguard them for future generations. But it also makes great business sense in the here-and-now too.

There are over 50 published case studies that show how businesses that do good also do well - often outperforming their rivals.

For instance, according to a report in 2014 produced by CDP, S&P500 companies with sustainability strategies outperform those that don't https://www.cdp.net/CDPResults/CDP-SP500-leaders-report-2014.pdf

And 80% of studies show that sustainability performance has a positive impact on share price performance of quoted companies according to research by the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment at Oxford University and Arabesque Partners http://www.smithschool.ox.ac.uk/library/reports/SSEE_Arabesque_Paper_16Sept14.pdf

Regardless of whether or not you buy-in to the notion that overconsumption of finite world resources, whilst leaving behind pollution and contributing to climate change, is a problem, one thing is certain: getting more out of less is good for growth.

Less is more

You may not have thought of sustainability in the context of growth before, but don't worry - you're not alone.

Ask most business leaders to opine on growth, and few will mention sustainability themes.

That's because sustainability is often seen as a nebulous 'green' concept and something that businesses engage in because it's expected of them, or because of regulatory drivers or because they want to improve their image.

But think about it: if you're consuming less energy, stretching your raw materials so they go further, producing less waste and recycling more of what's leftover, what's happening?

Yes, you're lessening your environmental impact, but you'll also inevitably be cutting your costs and boosting profits - profits that can then be reinvested in your growth.

Where to start

Integrating sustainability themes into your mainstream business thinking might sound daunting at first, but it doesn't have to be.

Before you rush headlong into it, it's best to figure out where you're starting from. So, if you're not already, start measuring things like energy consumption and waste creation. Then set some targets and see if you can achieve them. Think about sustainability just like you would your sales and marketing strategy, or your financial plans.

At Remsol, we've developed a unique maturity model that we can use to evaluate and define your current performance to find out if you're Beginning, Improving, Succeeding or Leading.

It's a tool we can use to identify your immediate priorities for improvement, whilst also tracking your performance over time, and could help you get to grips with your sustainable business aspirations.

Think BIG, start small, act now!

When it comes to embedding sustainability in your business, I always say that you should create a grand vision for what you're going to try and achieve, but then start small - eat the elephant in tiny bites - and start right away.

That's because, if you don't have a vision of what you're striving for, you won't gain any traction. Try to do too much to quickly, and you'll run out of steam. Put it off until tomorrow, and tomorrow will never come. Remember: sustainability is great for the environment, but even better for the bottom line.