Is good accounting the key to saving the environment?


Business owners and executives take the opinions of their accountant very seriously. When accountants give advice, business executives almost always listen. Accountants need to use this power to promote sustainability. We need to remind our clients that sustainable practices aren’t just ethical, they’re profitable.

It’s an accountant’s job to ensure that a business remains profitable and financially successful. If at the same time, an accountant can improve the state of the environment, why not? Why not achieve two significant outcomes at once?

A lot of business owners fear that embracing sustainability will do damage to their bottom line. This perception that profits and sustainability are opposing forces discourages sustainable behaviour.

People wrongly assume that one must trade sustainable behaviour for financial success. However, this isn’t always the case. There are so many ways that businesses can promote sustainable practices that also just happen to be profitable as well.

Riding bikes and e-bikes instead of driving cars saves money on parking, insurance, maintenance and other costs. A lot of businesses are now moving to e-bikes instead of cars. Purchasing electric and hybrid vehicles saves money on fuel. Purchasing printers that print duplex saves paper. Solar energy is increasingly becoming more financially viable.

Switching off lights and devices and moving to energy-saving products or mode can save money on energy, whilst also extending the life of equipment and capital. Donating old furniture, instead of throwing it out, can build relationships and goodwill with your community.

Putting a scrap paper box near a printer can help you save money on paper. Ditching paper cups and plastic straws will save you countless trips to the supermarket and help the environment. Choosing cleaning products which are kind to the environment is also important.

There are countless benefits to going green, but most importantly, a sustainable business will help you attract the best employees. Millennials, who are the next biggest group of employees, want to work at a place that is helping, rather than harming the environment. Going green will make your business a place where everyone wants to work.

Sustainable practices are the way of the future. Choosing to not go green might even be impossible for a business moving forward. Selecting sustainable suppliers can even bring in a whole new customer base. There are swaths of people who are looking for sustainable alternatives to everyday items and don’t fear, they are actually willing to pay more for sustainability.

People are aware of the strength that their purchasing power wields in today’s economy. This new generation views buying a product as “voting” or “endorsing” it, and they certainly don’t want to endorse a product that is hurting the environment.

Charitable giving is something that more and more accountants are having to take into account. Accountants can even suggest to their clients that charitable giving becomes a key part of their balance sheets. Setting aside funds for sustainable spending each month is a practice more and more businesses are embracing.

I’ve seen some businesses that treat charitable giving as an integral and necessary part of their spending. For a lot of businesses, donating some of their revenue back into their community is an expense just like any other.

Of course, it’s not always accountants that make those sorts of decisions. However, what accountants can do is inform or remind their employers or clients about what other businesses are doing.

Coco Hou, CPA, Managing Director, Platinum Accounting