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Sustainable business practices need to be the focus of businesses across all industries as we seek to create a better world in 2021 and beyond. This means adopting a positive stance on the impact businesses have on the surrounding environment, as well as on the communities they work with on both a local and a global scale.
Read on and take a look at some of the most socially and environmentally responsible companies currently operating. These are just a few examples that we can learn from as we develop more positive ways of doing business.
We discussed Patagonia earlier this year in an article on sustainability best practices for 2021, but the clothing and outdoor equipment brand deserves another mention here. This is because the fashion industry — of which Patagonia is certainly a part — has developed a reputation for being severely unsustainable. Around 60% of synthetic fabrics are produced using fossil fuels; 85% of this material ends up in landfill sites, and around 1.7 billion tons of CO2 are emitted by the industry each year. What’s more, cheap labor in unregulated markets is putting human workers at direct risk.
Patagonia aims to be a shining light in this often dark industry. The brand produces clothes that are built to last and supports customers as they repair and reuse older pieces. It also donates 1% of its annual revenue directly to environmental organizations. The company’s former CEO, Rose Marcario, had said that she wanted to see the clothing brand achieve total CO2 neutrality by 2025, revolutionizing the production cycle and becoming fully sustainable by that time.
A Good Company
E-commerce has found itself in the firing line with regard to sustainable business practices in recent years, and with good reason. While founders and CEOs jet off into space, back here on Planet Earth the world’s leading e-commerce brands are falling short of environmental and human sustainability targets again and again. Stories of poor working practices for often vulnerable employees, as well as excess and unrecyclable packaging on deliveries, abound in the market. All of this means e-commerce is becoming a key battleground in the fight for sustainable business, as evidenced by the enhanced profile of planned sustainability conferences in 2021 and beyond.
Sweden’s A Good Company is striving to achieve exactly this and to live up to its positive name in the process. The firm has decided to put sustainability at the heart of everything it does, from the materials it selects in manufacturing its products to the promotional initiatives it uses to advertise its business. Jaw-dropping examples include pens made from Salvadoran firearms that were seized and melted down, as well as a phone case that actively reduces carbon emissions during production rather than simply minimizing them. This idea of active climate positivity — as opposed to mere impact mitigation — sets a great example to other organizations in A Good Company’s field.
New Belgium Brewing
Craft beer is one of the big economic success stories of the last decade, as increasing numbers of consumers eschew big-name brands such as Coors and Budweiser in favor of something a little more unique. This is great news for beer drinkers and producers, but there is an environmental impact to be considered too. The production and transportation of raw materials, the action of producing the beer itself, and the distribution of beer once it has left the brewery all contribute to the carbon footprint of the industry.
New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, CO is positioned at the forefront of sustainability in this area. It is already Platinum-Certified as a Zero Waste Business, ensuring that 99.9% of its waste does not end up languishing in landfill sites. The business also implements its own internal energy tax, further incentivizing the production of its own renewable energy on-site.
Dr. Bronner’s is another company that is seeking to actively improve both environmental and social sustainability. The personal care producer adopts principles of fair trade and anti-child labor stances, working to reduce the human impact of luxury goods across the world. Offering fair and reliable prices to farmers and suppliers adds to its positive impact on the market.
The firm also strives to ensure that all of its plastic packaging is 100% post-consumer recycled while also carefully researching its sourcing and supply chains. A multi-faceted approach to both social and ecological stability is critical, and Dr. Bronner’s is doing its part to support this.
As the cost of items such as clothing, furniture, electronics, and other products fell, the disposability of these products increased. Consumers found themselves able to afford to purchase single or short-term-use items, safe in the knowledge that they could simply dispose of the item and purchase another one when the time came.
BuyMeOnce aims to be the antidote to this. It crafts products that are designed to be used again and again, reducing wastage and eliminating much of the environmental cost of producing new items. BuyMeOnce does not believe in planned obsolescence and instead provides a wide range of different items that support long-term sustainability.
Tony’s Chocolonely is headquartered in the Netherlands and has set its sights on maximum social and environmental sustainability. The company works to promote fair trade and slave-free practices right across the cocoa industry, reducing CO2 emissions in the process as it targets a comprehensive approach to responsibility.
It also works closely with other organizations such as Justdiggit. Non-profit organization JustDiggit works to “regreen” areas of Africa that have been affected by climate change and drought, seeking to transform our world into a more positive space for all.
Sustainable Business Practices in Focus
It’s no longer enough for businesses to merely pay lip service to the idea of sustainability. They need to be serious about sustainable business practices, making these a key focus through 2021 and beyond. As consumers become increasingly engaged with social and environmental issues, sustainability will be crucial to the ongoing success and survival of businesses across all fields.