Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword these days. Especially when it comes to business. That’s because business practices, whether sustainable or not, have far-reaching consequences. And this can have a profound impact when it comes to making the world a better place, something that Sparx is passionate about.
Investing in sustainability drives innovation. Redesigning a product so it meets new sustainability standards, reduces waste, or repurposes materials presents new opportunities for those willing to rise to the challenge. Even during the creation or design phase, it’s important to consider where a product will end up. A landfill? Or can it be repurposed or recycled? In short: what impact will it have on the Earth?
The cherry on top: according to this article in the Harvard Business Review, “80% [of the studies analyzed] show that stock price performance is positively correlated with good sustainability practices.” So you can have your cake and eat it, too.
So how can a business be sustainable? At Sparx, here’s how we approach the business of sustainability:
Philosophy: It all begins with the simple belief that it’s the right thing to do. As stewards of the earth for future generations, we recognize not only the environmental and social issues that threaten our planet. We also believe it is our responsibility to leave the world in better shape than how we found it.
Possibility: Altering business practices so they meet sustainability goals requires innovation and creativity – and sometimes a reminder that it is possible. Having examples of organizations or individuals doing seemingly impossible things is the best catalyst for others to follow suit. Just think: there was a time people thought running the four-minute mile was impossible!
Profitability: Operating a business sustainably is undeniably the right thing to do, but unless it improves the bottom line, many companies won’t be on board There’s good news on this front, too. According to a recent survey, “more than 50% of Gen Z shoppers… are willing to pay more for a sustainable product.” And sustainability is one of the top drivers of repeat customers. Win-win.
So what does sustainability look like in action? Here are a few examples of businesses that are working to make the world better and who can demonstrate that doing the right thing is possible and profitable.
Phool: Based in India, this enterprising business helps upcycle some of the over 8 million tonnes of floral offerings thrown into the country’s waterways each year. Phool (which means “flower”) concentrates its efforts on one of the most polluted stretches of India’s holiest river: the Ganges. The company turns the floral waste into incense sticks, paper, and coloured powders used for holy festivals. Other ideas are in the works too, such as a biodegradable alternative to styrofoam and a form of leather, or “fleather.” Not only is entrepreneur Ankit Agarwal keeping pesticides out of waterways, but he also employs more than 100 women, many of whom previously worked unsafe jobs or scavenged to survive.
The Soular Backpack to SAMSARA: In 2015, entrepreneur Salima Visram launched Soular Backpack. Designed with Kenyan schoolchildren in mind, these backpacks come equipped with a solar panel that charges a battery pack. Once home, the children can use the battery pack to power an LED lamp to do homework by – a safer, less expensive alternative to kerosene. Initially, the business had a one-to-one model: for every backpack bought, one would be donated to a child in Kenya. But the backpack was a hard sell in North America: “Ultimately, people want a product they will use,” she realized. So she pivoted, and SAMSARA – a line of elegant, vegan handbags – was born. The new line now funnels funds to Soular.
Stella McCartney: The luxury fashion designer recently debuted the “world’s first-ever garments made from vegan, lab-grown Mylo™ mushroom leather.” The sustainable alternative to leather uses renewable mushroom root systems to create the fabric, and is not petroleum-based like many other leather alternatives. The two pieces – pants and a bustier – are not currently for sale, but do “pave the way for future commercial offerings.” A campaign featuring model Paris Jackson modeling the pieces is generating buzz around this new, innovative fabric.
Handmade and Sustainable: Marketplaces like Etsy are filled with eco-conscious makers who often handmake their sustainable wares. There, shoppers can find online shops like Vita Beata Boutique, which specializes in post-consumer, biodegradable greeting cards. Plus, all the hand-drawn cards are made with paper embedded with seeds, to “create a lasting keepsake.” Compared to the boxes of cookie-cutter greeting cards found on online sites like Amazon, it’s easy to see why a customer might pay more for an innovative product made with such consideration and care.
Make no mistake about it: sustainable business practices have a profound impact on the world around us. At Sparx, we know the profound impact words can have, which is why it’s our mission is to make the world better, one sentence at a time.
If you need help crafting content or marketing your business – whether your focus is on sustainability or other pursuits – or you simply have questions, the experts at Sparx Publishing Group are always available to chat. You can reach us here.