How Sustainability is Sparking Innovation

How Sustainability is Sparking Innovation

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‘Innovation!’ is a popular buzz word with business guru’s and tech CEO’s alike, usually referencing a business’s unique selling point or to describe the intelligence/brilliance of a creative mind that revolutionizes an industry, however, the relationship between sustainability and innovation has been a distant link to connect. Many businesses feel the more environmentally friendly they become, the more it damages their ability to be competitive, especially with rivals in developing countries who are not faced with the same pressures. Sustainability is a national emergency, and some say either tougher regulation or an educated and organized consumer base may help speed up our inevitable conversion to go green.

The research on this matter is very different, however. It seems that sustainability initiatives force particularly large companies to be creative with the way they organize and design their business, in turn leading to both bottom-line and top-line results. Becoming environment-friendly lowers costs because companies end up reducing the inputs they use. Also, this generates even more revenue from more efficient and well-designed products which they are able to charge a higher price for along with a higher likelihood of accomplishing their corporate social responsibilities. This is particularly beneficial for those early movers who have maximized their efficiency to tie up any loose ends and to ensure sustainability will always be an integral part of their development giving them an improved competitive advantage for potential economic crises both now and in the future. Enterprises that focus on meeting emerging norms gain more time to experiment with materials, technologies, and processes, and in turn, develop cost-efficient methods of production.

Sustainability can provide a different “lens” for thinking: it helps companies to approach situations differently. This can unlock companies’ innovative potential as environmental constraints can serve as a form of momentum for companies to experiment with different methods of efficiency. Also, the chance of being a sustainability leader if also the top innovator is almost certain.

There are many different varieties of innovators in all markets, but what they all have in common is an ability to think differently than others, and an environmental mindset can take you to greater heights, sustainability innovators in markets can include Tony’s Chocolonely (winner of the 2019 Sustainable Brand Index) who focus on making the cocoa industry fair trade and free from slave work, limiting their environmental impact, and collaborating with Justdiggit to restore the landscapes of the drylands in Africa in order to have a positive impact on the climate. Swapabee (one of the top 50 start-ups on the globe) aims at allowing consumers to swap their old items, reducing the waste they accumulate from thrown away items, they give to the Beecharity which aims to bring clean water to the 663 million people who don’t have access to it. And finally, Patagonia (rated as one of the most sustainable clothing brands out there) have been striving to be environmentally friendly for more than twenty years donating a portion of their revenue to environmental organisations, with a plan to be completely CO2 neutral by 2025.

Even if your company is not thinking about how to incorporate sustainability into business operations, it is very likely that at least some of your customers are. You are putting your organization at risk and potentially missing out on valuable opportunities if you don’t include it in your search for innovative ways to provide value to customers.

This article is in association with SWAPABEE. An environmental app company that allows anyone to swap their items for other ones. Create an account and start swapping today at

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