Sustainable Producers – the Ups and Downs
by Prof. Dr. Anabel Ternès - Social entrepreneur, author, speaker and managing director
While walking down the streets of Kreuzberg in Berlin the other day, I noticed that a lot of “green stores” have been popping up. More vegetarian and vegan cafes, more eco-friendly clothing, fair trade products and upcycling stores have set up shop. This “green trend” isn’t only growing in Berlin, but all over the world. The demand for sustainable corporate practices has been on the rise everywhere for years.
At this point, many may stop and ask, “What exactly are the sustainable corporate practices?” The detailed definition varies among many institutes and scholars, but the main factors usually are:
- The business contributes to the environment and society without having a negative impact on them.
- The business integrates long-term principles of sustainability into their decisions.
- They supply environmentally friendly products/services.
This green movement may seem great, but it is not without criticism. Simultaneously, greenwashing is on the rise. It occurs when a business talks about being sustainable but does not actually do anything to benefit the environment or society. Not only does this create distrust among consumers but also affects the businesses that are making a real effort to be sustainable.
But, do not let a few bad apples ruin the whole basket. Environmental practices and sustainability are becoming part of more and more business models and core principles. This can be seen by all the new clothing brands that sell recycled or upcycled clothing for example.
However it isn’t only the local or small stores that seem to have a sustainable operation model, but also the larger international companies. A good example is Starbucks who have decided to implement a green supply chain management. Meaning they purchase Fair Trade Certified and organic coffee for their stores, while also striving to achieve the LEED certification.
LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certifies green and sustainable buildings that reduce water and energy usage, use sustainable materials and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
There are many companies, like Starbucks, who build their foundation on sustainable business models. A nice example of a company that integrates sustainability into their business plan is Google and their Environmental Innovations. They also have implemented green supply chain management practices and are powering their facilities with renewable energy sources. The greatest thing I learned about Google, was their idea to bring in goats to trim their lawn. I couldn’t help but smile at the mental picture of happy goats in Google’s yard.
Following this thought, while I continue my stroll down the streets of Berlin, I come to the conclusion that, sustainability will become an integral part of our lifestyle. Through the demand from consumers and opportunities and options that green businesses provide. Both customer and company go hand in hand, working together to make a positive impact on our environment and society.