Rupsa is a Content Writer and an entrepreneur who likes to write about marketing, business, and organizational culture.
Sustainability is a wise business approach; organizations that conduct their businesses keeping the sustainability principles in mind, try to fulfill their customers’ requirements without compromising the ability of the future generation to meet their needs. Basically, sustainability principles teach us to be considerate, generous, and unselfish. Since consumers are increasingly becoming aware of environmental degradation and climate change issues, sustainability has become a vital matter for business firms all over the world.
Triple Bottom Line Theory and Sustainability
Sustainable business is a result of responsible behaviors and the Triple Bottom Line (3BL) theory is one of the foundations of this concept. 3BL theory suggests that the primary goal of a commercial firm should be striking a proper balance between the three major dimensions of business performance. Those three dimensions include economic performance, ethical performance, and ecological performance; in short profit-people-planet. Business entities should not act as profit generation machines, instead, they should behave like responsible citizens and make sure that they are not affecting the environment and the society negatively.
Sustainability Approach, a Source of Competitive Advantages
Sustainability approach benefits business firms in different ways. Many companies are developing new lines of environment-friendly products to boost sales. Nike, for example, is a brand that takes pride in its sustainable innovations. Nike claims that the Air unit is one of its most environment-friendly product lines. The Air soles contain 50 to 75 per cent recycled manufacturing waste. 99 per cent of the dye water used during the production procedure is recyclable. By introducing such a product line, Nike is not only attracting responsible consumers but also strengthening its image as a socially responsible brand. Sustainability can also be seen as a product differentiation strategy. By creating sustainable products, you can make your brand look different from all those brands that are not sustainable. Sustainable approaches lessen the risk of legal complications as well and keep stakeholders satisfied. Therefore, sustainability principles are inescapable for companies nowadays.
Sustainable Business and Financial Challenges
Even though sustainable approaches benefit business firms in different ways, they also pose several challenges in front of those brands that operate within budget constraints. Companies like Tesla, Nike, and Starbucks have a lot of resources to invest in R&D; however, most small-scale start-ups cannot afford expensive sustainability initiatives. What should a company do when it does not have the privilege of being innovative? They should be creative. In this article, I will enlist some companies that have understood the sustainability issue from its core and managed to be sustainable without being disruptively innovative.
Beyond Meat, That Identified Alternative Sources of Protein
Protein is a necessary nutrient for our body and most of us rely on animal meat to get protein. However, this is not a sustainable way, a lot of living beings die to enrich our muscles. Beyond Meat, an American company, identified this gap and utilized it to deliver true value-adding products. They have identified the sources of plant-based protein (mung beans, pea, brown rice, fava beans, etc.), fat (coconut oil, cocoa butter, etc.), carbohydrate (potato), natural colors (fruit extracts), and necessary minerals. They apply pressure on these ingredients to give them a meat-like shape. Their plant-based meat products are used to cook delicious items such as burgers, sausages, meatballs, and so on. Their strategy is simple yet smart; mother nature has gifted us with everything we need, Beyond Meat just identified the alternative path correctly. Small size companies should learn from this firm, instead of making a business sustainable, just deal in products and services that are already eco-friendly. It will save you from a huge R&D expenditure.
Terra Hale, a Green Gym
Gyms have become important parts of our busy lives. However, we need to understand that gyms are massive consumers of electric energy. They are equipped with heavy electrical apparatuses and high wattage lights. Many gyms remain open 24 hours a day. This leads to a gigantic amount of energy consumption. Some companies have turned this environmental threat into great business opportunities. Terra Hale is one of the UK's most eco-friendly gyms, it utilizes Spin Bikes and other gym equipment to generate watts instead of consuming electric energy to run them. Whenever people use their gym kits to work out, they produce some usable electric energy. Pretty innovative right? Okay, let's skip this part and concentrate on their construction strategies. They have used recycled materials to build every corner of the gym; reclaimed wood has been used to build the walls and air purifying plants have been grown all over the inner surface to maintain a healthy atmosphere. Recycled rubber is the primary ingredient of the floor. Reclaimed furniture and waste materials have been used to decorate the interior part. You don’t need to be highly innovative to adopt such a sustainability approach. It is inexpensive yet sustainable. You can also go for self-powered gym equipment that is easily available in the market. Even though we are talking about gyms, this strategy can be adopted by any company that aims to appear sustainable.
Route Konnect, Just Acts Sustainably
We all know that some sectors are responsible for generating more pollution than others and transport are one of those sectors. The transportation sector solely produces 15 percent to 20 percent of total greenhouse gases produced. Entrepreneurs should identify one of such sectors and do something different. Route Konnect is a great example in this case; their business is not directly related to sustainability, yet their acts are sustainable. This organization develops IoT sensor networks and analytics tools that provide real-time information regarding congestion movement, vehicle speed, vehicle classification, and traffic. Users of their services can create seat occupancy information, and movement heatmaps by pairing up Route Konnect’s analysis with the existing CCTV infrastructure of their location. The services offered by Route Konnect are intended to increase road safety and save resources and time. Better traffic control leads to a healthier environment and better utilization of resources.
Le Tote, Capitalizes Ethical Principles
Landfills and unnecessary use of natural resources have emerged as huge problems for our planet. However, you can look at this problem as a highly rewarding business opportunity. The only solution to this problem is responsible consumerism, which is all about encouraging customers to purchase products that are actually needed and to make sure that those products are being used optimally. Le Tote is a subscription-based clothing rental company founded in 2012. It grants its users access to an endless collection of accessories and clothing. Customers pay a monthly fee to the company to avail Le Tote products for a particular time span. Le Tote is in partnership with a wide range of fashion brands such as Calvin Klein, French Connection, Nike, Levi's, etc. You will be happy to know that Le Tote is not alone, multiple companies operate using the same business model. They are basically preventing their users from purchasing clothes that they would wear once or twice in their life. Such a business model doesn’t require you to be highly innovative, you just need to be prudent to identify such business opportunities.
All of the businesses that I discussed are sustainable without being as highly innovative as Tesla or Nike. If you are a small brand and unable to spend much on R&D, just go for a good idea or ethical principle and appear as sustainable as big brands.