In an era of growing awareness about the climate crisis and social responsibility, there are people interested in their money to be spent helping solve the great challenges of humanity.
The Woman Post | Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra
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These are five questions The Woman Post brings to help you transform or build a brand that better aligns with socially and environmentally friendly practices.
1. Where Does the Material Come From?
Using the fashion industry as an example The Green Dreamer Podcast described some ways in which it could become more ethical and sustainable. "From using organic materials, using biodegradable dyes, to engineering patterns that create zero waste." Bear in mind the materials you chose to use and prioritize biodegradable, recycled, or widely recyclable materials.
Where the materials come from and who produces them are also important. The Podcast suggests prioritizing choosing "locally made clothes and ones made in renewable energy run facilities: With all of the dyeing, sewing, and shipping involved, the fashion industry has a high carbon footprint." This applies to every industry, for example, finding locally grown food, ethically produced wood, or a replacement to a single-use plastic packing system.
2. Are You Selling Quality Over Wild Consumerism?
Unfortunately, in technology, fashion, and even transport industries there is a dominant trend towards producing objects intentionally designed to be consumed quickly at cheap prices, leading shoppers to view these products as being disposable. Both because of their low quality and because they are always new models with extra features coming out.
Selling higher quality, more durable products that last years and can be repaired is a great contribution to sustainability. Your consumers will not mind buying a more expensive product if they know it will last them and in case of breaking you will have a fair guarantee or repairing system in place so it is not just disposed of.
3. Is the Structure of the Company Fair and Inclusive?
Care about the conditions under which the workers that collaborate with your business are working. This does not limited to a fair salary and no gender pay gaps, but also access to health care, welfare, a safe working environment, particularly for women and diverse communities, as well as possibilities of growth and feedback inside the company. From manufacturers, and distributors to managers and promoters, make sure everyone feels important, cared for, and listened to. Be especially mindful of not hiring manufacturers known for exploitation and avoid materials only found in conflict areas where human rights violations happen.
Mind diversity, Ross Cadastre, CEO and Founder of ITS Global, a Recruitment company says: "Hiring BIPOC talent is not only the right thing to do; it also makes economic sense." According to him, having diverse teams will bring innovation and different opinions and mindsets. He adds, "This builds a stronger, more lucrative company. In fact, studies show that companies with diverse teams attain 19% higher revenue because of greater innovation."
4. What About the Waste?
Find ways of managing waste than just taking it to a landfill, where most of our waste ends up causing severe economic as well as environmental impact due to water sources and land pollution, and slow decomposition rate. Start by measuring your amounts and types of waste. Then try to find out how to reduce the overall material’s usage, reuse materials that other local businesses might want to use, and/or recycle materials. Forbes suggests establishing environmental management systems that include objectives, targets, monitoring and measurement, audits, training, etc.
Patagonia teaches consumers how to repair their clothing, and offers a repair program for a small fee. The company repairs about 40,000 garments a year. According to the company’s CEO, Rose Marcario, "this is about building a company that cares about the environment. At the same time, offering repair supports the perceived quality of its products."
The Harvard Business Review states that there are enormous opportunities to reuse, resell or recycle materials such as iron, copper, gold, silver, and aluminum found in e-waste. It is estimated that in 2014 the world produced 42 million metric tonnes of e-waste. Keeping this waste out of the landfill is essential as it contains toxic materials, such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic.
5. Is the Company Cooperating With Sustainability Initiatives?
Finally, support environmental and social/ educational initiatives. Companies can look at contributing to projects in areas such as national parks, conservation spots, or vulnerable communities as well as areas where their employees live and work. From planting trees to providing guides for reproductive rights in rural areas, more than the topic, the importance lies in the transparency, honest intentions, eagerness, and commitment towards a more fair and sustainable future.