There are many definitions of sustainability and too often the focus is mostly on climate change, renewable energy, energy efficiency or saving our planet. That is good. But for a business it is more than that.
I am talking about something that is much more profound than just doing good, just being green or just being more efficient.
This is about making products that are better – not just more sustainable. Consumers, you and me, are always on the look for products that are better! Take Tesla: they don’t just make electric cars. They simply make better cars than most other manufacturers. Teslas have an incredible acceleration capability and they have a gorgeous design. They don’t ‘just’ make electric cars. They make great cars.
This is also about manufacturing these products in a more resource efficient manner, in a more sustainable manner often with cost savings as a result. Clothes manufacturers for example move towards manufacturing processes that use less water. This is great as they can reduce costs, and it is good for the planet.
The key is to bring together all these elements: designing better products that are more sustainable and manufacturing these products in a more efficient and more sustainable manner. The common denominator therefore is innovation with a sustainability mindset in all what you do: whether designing new products, revisiting production and operational processes, or forging new partnerships, etc. Your company, your leadership and your employees have to breathe sustainability in all what they do.
With more innovative products you can demand higher prices. With more efficient resource usage you can save on costs. All in all you can improve margins and increase your profits.
Take Levi’s: Levi’s developed a process that uses less water to make jeans, but at the same time it also produced jeans that are more comfortable to wear, that fit better. And as if that was not enough, they also increased their product margins. When all is done, Levi's makes a pair of jeans that costs less to make, that is more comfortable to wear, that is more sustainable in its manufacturing and that generates more profit!