A Guide to the Three P’s of Sustainability for Businesses

The three P’s of sustainability consist of:

1. Planet
2. People
3. Profit
These three P’s are also known as ‘the triple bottom line’, a concept which was first proposed by
environmentalist John Elkington who suggests that a business must measure their success not only
by the ‘traditional bottom line’ of financial profit or value but also by their impact on the
environment and society. Therefore, a business should consider alongside its financial resources
environmental resources, such as energy, water, and raw material use).
By adopting the concept of the Three P’s, in our business operations, we can protect them. To find
out how, keep reading!

Our planet is the only home we have and so we must take care of it!
To ensure that we do not exhaust the planet’s capabilities, we must make sure that we act without
extorting the Earth’s natural resources, harming wildlife, or damaging the ecosystems.
We must also understand that actions we take have an effect around the world; one countries
business strategy can affect trade ideologies in neighbouring countries and carbon emissions from
one country directly impacts the world’s climate as a whole. It is important to remember that we do
not operate without consequence or influence and a business needs to do all it can to ensure that
this is a positive thing.
To do this, certain considerations such as using environmental packaging, renewable energy, non-
toxic cleaning products, sustainable food sources, and recycling should be implemented into the day
to day running of the business.

The second P represents people working together to help implement sustainable ideas and solutions
as an individual, or part of a community, or both!
A business must ensure that all people are treated fairly and ensure that no group is harmed,
exploited, or troubled by business activities. This includes employees, stakeholders, families, clients,
suppliers, communities, or anyone affected by the organisation. If a business was to operate
sustainably, they would be ensuring this.
Although many businesses do operate sustainably, it is important to look out for ‘greenwashing’.
This is when a company promotes its sustainable practices via marketing campaigns but are not
100% truthful about the outcomes of their practice. This is, however, becoming less common as
modern approaches take the danger of greenwashing into account and, as the public has become
more environmentally conscious, they are more aware and mindful when deciphering fact from
As consumers are beginning to pay more attention to the sustainable impact of the company,

businesses are operating in a more environmentally friendly way. Public awareness and involvement

have therefore encouraged companies to be more truthful in their sustainability marketing
If we are to live sustainably, then people must adhere to the practices of environmentalism, whether
that be as a business or as consumers.

It is crucial to remember that profit, here, doesn’t refer purely to finance. Instead, profit in this
context refers to the positive and negative impact the business has on the local, national, and
international economy. For example, this could include generating employment, inventing green
innovations, creating wealth, and paying taxes.
A 2015 OECD Forum suggested that for this reason, ‘profit’ should be changed to ‘prosperity’ as this
section focuses on more than just finance. This change would also draw attention away from profit
being considered as purely economic. Finance should be considered as a means to operate more
environmentally, not as an end goal for the business.
By adopting these three models of operation, we can create a correlation between business
operations and a green ideology to ensure that organisations operate with the best intentions for
themselves, people, and the planet.

15 Aug 2020