Twenty years ago, a company could say it was sustainable and consumers would get excited with little questioning. But in an era of greenwashing lawsuits, consumers are demanding transparency when a business claims it’s socially or environmentally responsible.
To meet these demands, many organizations have turned to third-party sustainability certifications. Given the recent emergence of the concept and multitude of options available, such verifications have gained a faulty reputation of being superfluously expensive and slow-moving. According to Tensie Whelan, the director of New York University’s Center for Sustainable Business, companies often assume this is the case without doing their research.
Whelan believes there’s a strong and growing exposition for a business to become certified. Not only do they provide transparency for consumers, but they also push the business to comply with standards that help improve the financial, environmental and social performance of the company.
Despite such benefits, several small businesses are still overwhelmed by the certification process. As the business case for sustainability continues to bloom, executives are investigating alternate avenues to demonstrate their responsible operations to consumers.
Create your own solutions
Sustainability is a broad and overarching pillar for any business that takes it seriously. There are plenty of approaches to ensure a business’ sustainable efforts are being recognized and shared, said Josh Wadinski, founder and CEO of organic skincare line Plantioxidants.
“Often, if your business has limited resources, it is up to you and your team to identify creative solutions that illustrate its sustainability efforts,” he said. “Remember, actions speak louder than words.”
Plantioxidants prides itself on a few sustainability driven efforts that are “practically free.” It’s a member of 1% For The Planet and reuses all products to divert from landfill. Due to the multiple variations of zero waste certificates available, Plantioxidants isn’t certified. But Wadinski said the company keeps this goal at the forefront of everything they do.
“When we held a launch party for Plantioxidants in San Francisco, we made it known to all of our guests that the whole event was carefully planned to be zero waste from start to finish,” he said.
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