In recent times millennials have overtaken the baby boomers population; this is something businesses have taken note of and adjusted to accordingly. Being the youngest adult population, millennials are the most diverse, vocally, and socially engaged group, especially regarding societal, environmental, and sustainability issues.
Businesses are either collaborating with these young and socially connected individuals or reacting to emerging issues in business practices that affect their social and environmental bottom-line. It is for this reason that a slew of businesses not primarily focused on gaining profits, but rather on the social impact and purpose behind the product, has increased.
Businesses are adjusting to the current social and economic climate to capture the attention of this new generation that seeks ethically sourced and cruelty-free, sustainable products that can either be re-used or recycled. Reacting to these socially motivated movements, businesses are also adopting other tactics to capture these crowds.
Businesses produce a majority of the world’s waste ranging from paper, plastic materials, toxic by-products from production activities to electronic waste such as old computers and electronics. Recycling is not a particularly new practice, but its uptake in recent times has increased among individuals and businesses.
More businesses are adopting the circular economic model that has proven to have less exposition to fluctuating energy and commodity prices. Another way businesses are benefiting from recycling is the publicity associated with responsible environmental change. This is evident in an independent study commissioned by Smartest Energy that showed consumers are increasingly favoring brands and products with a commitment to ecological stability.
Examples of recycling in businesses include the ecoATM, a buy-back program committed to finding a second-life in personal electronics by recycling phones, mp3 music players, and tablets. The services ecoATM professionals offer are a good example of a responsible recycling plan and business. Other recycling efforts by businesses are targeted at plastic materials, paper, printer cartridges, and other materials.
Upcycling is a creative way of re-use that’s applied by either repairing, remaking, or re-imagining by-products, waste, or old items that would otherwise be discarded. Upcycling efforts have significantly been adopted in the clothing industry and are meant to give a new lease of life to seemingly useless materials.
It is estimated that the clothing industry is responsible for ten percent of global greenhouse emissions. Established clothing designers are acknowledging upcycling by participating in buy-back programs for their old products for mending, dyeing, felting, and re-sewing into new products. Other efforts that are benefiting upcycling efforts include the increase in the number of thrift stores, where designers and creators are increasingly sourcing for upcycling materials and inspiration.
The past few decades have seen businesses adapting to technology that has completely revolutionized the workplace. Enterprises are now repurposing this technology in promoting a sustainable work environment. Entrepreneurs are also adopting sustainable green technology as an alternative to older tech models.
Other ways businesses are taking ethical action to reduce their waste and carbon footprint include going paperless in the workplace. Adopting modern modes of communication and information processing minimizes excessive use of paper.
Greenwashing is an emerging practice where organizations are publicizing their products in-line with the current market prospects. Businesses are taking advantage of the social impact being witnessed in green franchising and other environmentally-friendly products, to sell their own products using misleading or unsubstantiated claims.
Businesses are taking advantage of consumers by promoting their products and services using one ethical practice and concealing their unethical activities. This habit has become widespread due to the increasing demand for clean and green products.
Businesses and sustainability can co-exist, especially when it comes to reducing waste, preventing pollution, adopting clean energy, and using sustainable materials. These efforts are meant to balance between generating revenue and protecting people and the planet.