The fight for sustainability
Global climate instability is a complex issue we have grappled with for decades. With bushfires, floods, and climate disasters regularly dominating the news, concerns around mass extinction have never been more palpable.
With the climate crisis dominating the media comes the realization that collective environmental preservation efforts from communities, businesses, and governments, locally and globally, are crucial if life on our planet is to have a fighting chance.
Governments worldwide are regulating businesses to incentivize sustainable practices. However, consumers are leading the charge with significant changes to their habits. Motivated to support social causes and limit their climate impact, customers are increasingly choosing brands that align with their values.
Global consulting giant Accenture has done research showing that people are rethinking their core values, cutting through the noise, and taking control to affect change themselves while also accepting to live with paradoxical choices for practical and financial reasons.
A heightened awareness of environmental, social, and ethical issues is what led to the inception of The Officinal, a wellness brand offering plant-based products for skincare and haircare. Owner Stefania Muran designs products that help people live healthier, more balanced lives while making choices that support environmental sustainability.
As a mum of two, I’m motivated to set a positive example. That’s why I founded The Officinal, a greenery-surrounded workshop where I can pursue my passions while demonstrating to my daughters that it’s possible to create a job while respecting the environment.
Companies prioritizing sustainability stand a good chance of enhancing brand reputation, improving profitability, and earning customer loyalty, all while preserving our precious planet. However, fighting the good fight has its challenges.
As a micro-business in a market geared towards larger industries, sourcing raw materials and packaging can be a struggle due to limited availability and budget constraints. I’ve had to get comfortable with compromises, but I am committed to going the extra mile to respect nature. Our workshop is solar-powered, and we prioritize high-quality plant-based ingredients that are organic and locally sourced.
Many large brands have placed the green agenda at the core of their value proposition by operating in more environmentally and socially responsible ways. Outdoor apparel company Patagonia has, since the early 90s, endeavored to minimize its environmental impact and support sustainable agriculture and fair labor practices.
As a B Corp and a leader in the sustainable apparel industry, they are also transparent about the challenges they face. Their production and logistics rely on global supply chains, which can have negative environmental consequences. Cognizant of this, they actively measure and assess these repercussions to make informed decisions to reduce their impact and communicate transparently.
The difficulty often lies in conveying environmental preservation efforts and obstacles succinctly and transparently, so mindful customers can distinguish between brands genuinely committed to driving change and ones resorting to greenwashing.
Patagonia, for instance, dedicates over five pages of its website and has PR and marketing teams to communicate the company’s environmental and social responsibility pursuits and the issues they are still working on to improve.
Unfortunately, brands can use wooly phrases such as “responsibly sourced” and “organic” without much oversight. The onus is, therefore, on the conscious consumer to research the products they buy and use, examine ingredient labels and third-party certifications, learn about their production methods, and vote with their wallet.
Increasingly customers are choosing brands that resonate with their values and care for the environment. Companies that can establish a customer connection thanks to genuinely sustainable practices are well-positioned to build a positive brand reputation, make profits, and keep customers happy while helping the planet. Even small businesses can have a big impact by putting the environment first. The tricky part is standing out for being honest and clear about it so that customers can tell the difference between real change and green spin.
Images provided by Stefania Muran