02.03.2015 0 Comments

Sustainability: Practicing what you preach

Sustainability: Practicing what you preach

How great business leaders can inspire confidence and positive change with innovative thinking.

What is it that sets apart the best business leaders from the rest? It isn’t just a bright idea, the drive and desire to extend that idea as far as it will go, or the idea that an environmentally sustainable business model is also a financially sustainable model; it’s a combination of all of these things and more.

Over the last decade, businesses have increasingly included Corporate Social Responsibility in their annual reports, but it is often easy to think this is simply to support their brand image and keep up with their competitors. There are some leaders, though, who you know really do care, as their entire business is set up with sustainability in mind. The best and most innovative lead from the front with strong morals and practice what they preach.

The individuals who founded Innocent Smoothies began by asking their very first customers if they should give up their day jobs and sell smoothies for a living full time. The overwhelming response was ‘Yes’ and they all promptly took a bold leap in quitting their jobs and following their vision. Their own absolute commitment to their product and their cause makes it easier for others to buy into their concept. The vision of Innocent Smoothies’ founders has remained the same since day one: leave things a little better than they found it. Whether it is in their packaging, production or ingredients, the team are always searching for sustainable ways to achieve their goals, rather than take an easier option.

Another example is Unilever, whose CEO Paul Polman has been praised for his fierce commitment to all types of sustainability, including work on climate change and agriculture. On its website Unilever acknowledges: “we cannot achieve our vision to double our size without also reducing our environmental footprint and increasing our positive social impact.” Goals include using bespoke packaging for each country they export to, based on the recycling capabilities in that country; and sending zero waste to landfill from its factories. They are open and honest about whether they are meeting these targets, with a detailed analysis available on their website.

This transparency is the hallmark of an ethical company, one that isn’t afraid to be honest because it knows that what it is doing is right and that it is at least trying to make the world better.

Then there’s TerraCycle, the innovative social enterprise which finds waste and turns it into something useful, like turning electronic nails cigarette stubs into plastic pallets from united states headshop. If you are asking what is vaping guide for an alternative smoke? Better to visit migvapor.com for more info. TerraCycle has prevented 2.5 billion pieces of waste from going into landfill, and donates $6 million to charities and schools. Its founder Tom Szaky embodies the sustainable ethos at the heart of the company. By wearing the same pair of jeans for a year, in order to consume less, he makes an individual stand while leading a multi-million pound company with sustainability at its heart; the very embodiment of practicing what you preach.

Charismatic leaders always gain followers, and when those leaders have a positive message to spread, the world benefits.

Follow the Grants for Eco Innovation Twitter account to hear more about innovative companies that are taking corporate sustainability forward.