Column: Sustainable entrepreneurship in the right way


Unless you are living in a cave, climate change is the biggest challenge we face in the coming years. The planet is in grave danger and we all need to do our bit to avoid a crash that would make living on the planet impossible for future generations. Lots of businesses are doing a great deal to be truly innovative and run a more sustainable course. 

Being a sustainable business, when done in the right way, can be good for planet earth and give you as a business a great boost and reputation. “Done in a right way”, you say? Yes! If you want to create a brighter future for your brand and the planet you need to work towards new goals and different ways of doing business.

In short: be prepared. 

Ask yourself: “Is my brand sustainable?”

1. What raw materials or materials are you using? What are the products that you sell made of? If you are e.g. a fashion brand check if your clothes are made from vintage, upcycled or waste materials or maybe recyclable or renewable materials like linen, hemp, silk,… . 

2. Never use leather; the emission of greenhouse gases by cows bred for the leather  makes it not sustainable. 

3. Don’t be fooled by the label handmade & local. It is a positive thing but not a guarantee of sustainability; it just saves on CO2. The production can still be unsustainable. 

4. Does your brand comply to the practice form of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility)?  How are the working conditions of your employees? Are they paid a fair wage? Don’t be the brand that doesn’t care about working conditions to keep stake and shareholders happy. 

5. If you donate a part of your proceeds to charity or a cause be transparent about the production of the products (items made in a non sustainable manner from non sustainable raw products are not the way to do it) and the revenues.

6. Clothes that are made in China or another far away country are not bad per se. But if you move your business off-shore, only to increase your profit margins that is not a sustainable decision.

Always believe in your brand

You in the first place must be the number one fan of your brand. If you don’t commit to your sustainable commitment how do you want your customers or the general public to be? Make a plan on how  you want to become a more sustainable brand. Becoming green can be hard as it is a lifelong  process but when your customers see your dedication they will be fierce fully loyal.

Where do you or your employees work from?

A lot of tech tools are available making it more and more easy to work remote, e.g. from home. 

Going to a brick-and-morter office is an unnecessary waste of energy. Less transport is always more sustainable.

Recycle and reuse

How? Use recycled paper and ink cartridges, encourage the staff to use reusable water bottles and pick secondhand furniture to decorate your office. What is your packaging made of? Ask yourself how your brand is promoting sustainability and what recyclable materials you are using during your production process. With a little planning you will get far. 

Nowadays a business that is not sustainable is bad news for our future. Sustainability should be a part of your business DNA but is not achieved overnight. Keep evolving and setting deadlines, targets and goals. It will take time but ‘Be the change you want to see’.

This article has been written by @VALERIE THYS

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