A photo of two business partners reviewing a paperless document together on a tablet device

Adobe Acrobat

How to run a sustainable business and keep your environmental footprint small.

You can be environmentally friendly while also making a profit. Learn how sustainability initiatives and going paperless can help your business and the Earth.

A sustainable business is good for all.

  • Green-friendly business models help the planet and demonstrate responsibility to customers.
  • Discover how going paperless can save significant amounts of money and reduce carbon emissions.
  • Learn the pillars of sustainability and how you can apply them.

What is business sustainability?

All businesses need to look at the bottom line. But success can be more than your profits being greater than expenses.


A sustainable business (also called a green business) is one that strives for less negative impact on the environment. Sustainable businesses help fight climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from waste as well. Some are even trying to achieve carbon neutrality. 

A potter sitting on a stool making a clay pot on a pottery wheel
A potter brushing the edge of a clay bowl in their studio

What types of sustainability are there?

Going paperless can be a powerful initial step in a sustainability initiative. But it goes beyond that. It’s commonly said that sustainable businesses work toward the “triple bottom line” of environmental, social, and financial outcomes:


This is the main thing people think of when they hear the word "sustainability." Trying to conserve energy and natural resources in the process of running a business is key to environmental sustainability. 


Social sustainable businesses prioritize human rights, with an eye toward the social components of running a business — in other words, the people who make everything happen. Social sustainability refers to minding the cultural, human-centric elements of your business. 


Finally, the third pillar refers to economic sustainability and financial performance, or minding the sustainability of the bottom line and turning a profit. However, financial sustainability shouldn’t come at the expense of the environmental or social aspects of sustainability.

Take your first steps toward sustainability.

How can a business be sustainable? For a business that’s looking to turn toward sustainability, there are a number of small ways to start, like incorporating PDFs into editing processes to cut down on paper usage. Many of these small tasks fall under the larger pillars of environmental, social, and financial sustainability. Sustainability is never perfect, but any steps forward are better than no steps at all. 

1. Find out how your business impacts the environment.

An environmentally conscious business is one that puts climate impact, fossil fuel consumption, paper consumption, and consumption of other resources at the forefront of their sustainability efforts. Many companies have switched to renewable energy to try and lower their carbon footprint and improve energy efficiency. That’s a pretty big first step, but you can accomplish smaller objectives first.


For example, instituting office recycling programs and reducing the overall consumption of paper products and other nonrenewable materials are as easy as getting a few recycling bins, signing up for a service, and getting the office on board. Viewing documents with the Adobe Acrobat extension for Google Chrome is a simple way to make an environmental impact at the office.

A graphic of editing a PDF on a laptop computer

Get work done. Anywhere.

Acrobat logo

Adobe Acrobat Pro

2. Prioritize social responsibility.

A socially responsible business is one that doesn’t prioritize profits over culture and people. Sustainable companies that embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion practices (DEI) with an emphasis on fair hiring, creating employee resource groups (ERGs), and embracing nontraditional management structures often result in happier employees and a more sustainable office culture that lasts. Creating partnerships with employees to raise their standard of living and have a positive social impact are core pillars of social responsibility.

3. Be mindful of finances.

Financial sustainability refers to the nuts and bolts of sustainable business practices. In a perfect world, a financially sustainable business can run indefinitely.


Part of that process is figuring out exactly what makes your business money, and what costs you money. Once you’ve done that, you’ll be able to see how you can link financial sustainability with environmental/social sustainability. Many businesses often have waste or other inefficient practices that keep them from being as sustainable as they might be.


Auditing your financial sustainability involves identifying:

  • The materials and staffing needs of your business
  • How much those needs will cost
  • An evaluation of current resources
  • Estimations of additional required resources
  • Who the customer is and how you’ll get a product to them and for what price


Answering these questions can help you find ways to improve processes and become more efficient. Plus, you’ll likely find suppliers who provide greener and possibly more affordable materials.       

A photo of a plant store owner talking on the phone while looking down at their laptop on a table

Partner with Adobe Acrobat for a paperless world.

When it comes to managing your paper load, a more eco-conscious workflow starts a day at a time.

Move away from paper.

Digitizing documents wherever you can, including processes like e-signatures, is one way to improve sustainability in an office environment. Digitizing with Adobe Acrobat Pro and Scan is as easy as scanning the documents, sorting and organizing them, and creating all new documents in a fully digital environment. 

Protect and secure files safely.

Whether documents are stored locally or in the cloud, your documents are more secure when they’re protected by an application like Acrobat Pro. You can password-protect documents with high-grade encryption so the wrong people never access sensitive information.

Track and store documents.

Edit from anywhere, reducing your overall footprint and making collaboration easier, especially in remote working environments. Full-page editing functionality and powerful collaboration tools ensure that you can work with teams, stakeholders, and other parties no matter where they’re located. No more shipping documents and far less paper waste mean a more sustainable business environment.

Acrobat logo

Do more with Adobe Acrobat Pro.