Like a broken record, we continue to push out the message that sustainability cannot be a checklist or afterthought. Sustainability must be part of an organization’s core strategy, especially as regulators, stakeholders, and investors continue to push for meaningful progress on social and environmental impacts.
Simultaneously, the idea that sustainability must continually justify its ROI is old news. Sustainability is profitable, check out the food and beverage industry for one example.
So why not just build the entire business strategy around a sustainability tactic? Good idea.
Building Profit Through Sustainability
We came across an interesting tool that may help existing organizations and entrepreneurs think strategically about sustainability – The Abundance Cycle, building virtuous cycles where solving ecological problems and building resilient communities opens new markets and strengthens competitive advantage.
Whether your organization needs to entirely re-think what services and products it offers, or you have experience in an industry but want to build a product or service that moves the meter on ecological or social problems, the Abundance Cycle exercise may help uncover new market potential.
Although some of the tactics, like reducing waste or increasing efficiency to reduce environmental impact are being widely employed, these and others applied in a new setting or industry may reveal truly disruptive solutions that may lead to meaningful, sustainable change.
People, Profits, Planet
We hate to rain on the parade, but in the event you do find a sweet spot through your Abundance Cycle exercise, be sure to think through the full impact of your idea.
Does your idea create a temporal exchange conundrum? Do you sacrifice one important metric in sustainability to take advantage of another. Creating a product from waste is good, but not being able to provide a safe work environment isn’t sustainable. Using biomimicry to build a better mousetrap is good, but what materials does it require? Are the materials sustainably sourced, produced, shipped, and disposed of?
Give The Abundance Cycle a try, and keep your eye on the big picture during the process.
What do you think the most and least “truly sustainable” brand case studies are in The Abundance Cycle, from a big-picture perspective? Let us know in the comments.