Why you need a sustainability action plan

Sustainability is a journey. By continuing to make changes to your business for the good of the planet and people around you, you can:

  • improve profitability and reduce costs
  • form new partnerships with local communities and suppliers
  • build your reputation and stay competitive
  • appeal to new customers
  • attract and retain employees
  • reduce your carbon footprint
  • adapt to climate change.

It's fine if your sustainability journey looks different to that of other businesses. What matters most is that you start now and keep going. 

A sustainability action plan helps you figure out what to do and stay on track.

You can also use your plan to promote your progress to customers.

Download a sustainability action plan template

Our template includes a table that sets out your objectives, costs and more. You can edit the template and add or remove rows as you need.

Develop your sustainability action plan

Our template steps you through the process of developing a sustainability action plan with examples to guide you.

You may want to check our tips below before you start.

Good sustainability management means you have the right supports in place to achieve your sustainability objectives. As you develop your plan, consider how you will manage the changes you want to make.

You might need to introduce new practices and procedures to help you. For example:

  • Can you include a sustainability update in your staff meetings?
  • Can you add your sustainability actions to your current task management system?
  • Can you allocate certain hours for people or block out time in your calendar for sustainability efforts each month?
  • Do you need to collect new data (such as employee satisfaction scores) to measure the benefits of your sustainability actions?

Many sustainability actions involve a simple change in process or behaviour. Others need long-term planning and investment.

Consider a mix of both, so you can see positive differences soon while working towards bigger achievements.

Developing your plan involves doing some sums. For each sustainability action you consider, estimate the cost and the likely return on investment.

Some benefits can be tricky to measure but try to be as accurate as you can. This helps you compare different actions and focus on ones that make a real difference to your business.

Sustainability is a team effort. Explain to your team why sustainability is important and what you need them to do. Be clear about who's responsible. Assign a team or individual to each sustainability action in your plan.

Consider creating a new role to drive sustainability, such as a chief sustainability officer or sustainability manager. If it's a voluntary role on top of someone's current role, make sure you give them enough time to do what they need to do.

As your business changes, your plan needs to change to make sure you're heading in the right direction.

Decide how often you want to review your plan and set aside the time with your team in advance.

It's a good idea to keep a record of each version of your plan.

Remember to celebrate your progress and share it with customers! Learn how to Promote your sustainable business.

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