The Founder of Eco Market Malta, Zen D’Amato Gautam, sheds some positive light on the future of sustainable businesses.
Zen D’Amato Gautam is an Enviropreneur, Founder of Eco Market Malta, a Social Enterprise aimed at promoting environmental sustainability.
Eco Market Malta runs primarily through UN Sustainable Development Goal #12: Responsible Production and Consumption. They collaborate regularly with environmentalists, NGOs and other organisations to bring info booths, talks, workshops and activities providing education and raise awareness about topics pertaining to Environmental Sustainability.
August 22 marks ‘Earth Overshoot Day’; the date when humanity will have exhausted nature’s budget for 2020. This means that for the rest of the year, we will be ‘stealing’ the Earth’s natural resources from future generations. Humanity is using way more resources than the planet can naturally re-generate in a year and that is the perfect example of the meaning of unsustainability. As the world itself implies, it is a status that cannot be maintained for long, and if current production and consumption patterns are not shifted, there will be a collapse of the planet’s natural balance resulting in instability to human societies affecting our own way of living.
Rapid growth in consumption of goods and services, combined with shorter and shorter product lifetime has resulted in increased consumption of natural resources and production of waste and nuisances. In this context, the challenge is to orientate our production and consumption methods towards a more sustainable economy, which limits environmental impacts whilst improving our competitiveness and our quality of life. It goes beyond greening technologies or to those sectors linked to energy and the environment but rather, covers all activities – specifically those involving consumer products – and is found at every stage in the products’ life cycle, from design to recycling after use, via their production, distribution and use.
Everyone must embark on this challenge – citizens, consumers, production companies, distributors and public authorities. Each individual’s behaviour and involvement affect the success or otherwise of sustainable habits in consumption and production. Altering our production and consumption methods means simultaneous action on supply and demand, to enable a harmonious growth of the most responsible products, making them more competitive than conventional offers, and to stimulate our economy.
Developing and circulating eco-design methods and tools upstream, is essential to reduce resources, energy consumption and the production of waste. Simultaneously, downstream, it involves making the offer more attractive and more credible in the eyes of consumers, extending environmental (especially the carbon content) and social information on the products and services and supporting virtuous consumption behaviours. A circular economy is based on the principles of eliminating waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.
The Triple Bottom Line
The TBL is a framework that recommends that companies commit to focus on social and environmental concerns just as they do on profits. It posits that instead of one bottom line, which is profit, there should be three, the 3Ps being Profit, People and Planet. Therefore, a company’s success will be measured not only by its annual P&L report, but also by its contribution to society and the environment.
The future of sustainable businesses is looking brighter. More and more businesses are showing increasing concern over issues like biodiversity loss, deforestation, plastic pollution and other global threats. This comes as no surprise, considering that a global survey by the Conference Board done in February 2020, with 30,000 participants from over 60 countries, revealed that a brand’s eco-friendly practices rank as the top feature that most influences consumer’s brand choice. … And there’s more.
- 88% of consumers want businesses to step up on sustainability and improve their environmental and social footprint, according to Forbes in 2018.
- A 2019 Retail and Sustainability Survey by CGS showed that more than two-thirds of the respondents consider sustainability when making a purchase and are willing to pay more for sustainable products.
- A study by Accenture in 2019 revealed that more than 80 per cent of survey participants said they felt it was ‘important’ or ‘extremely important’ for companies to design environmentally conscious products; while 72 per cent of respondents reported that they were actively buying more environmentally friendly products that they did five years ago.
It is our choices that will determine the future. Through wise, forward-looking decisions, we can turn around the current consumption trends. While our planet is finite, human possibilities are not. The transformation to a sustainable, carbon-neutral world will succeed if we apply innovation, care, will and foresight. The good news is that this transformation is not only technologically possible, it is also economically beneficial.
POSITIVE change in action
The transformation is already in motion and you can find encouraging headlines on the Financial Times, The World Economic Forum website, The Guardian, Business Insider, Triple Fund It, Bloomberg and Forbes, all communicating the same message: ‘What is good for the planet is also good for business’.
Some of the benefits for businesses who align themselves with green practices and principles will involve their water and energy costs, waste management, customer loyalty, higher demands, the health of the workforce, media attention and new opportunities for tax incentives and subsidies.
We are in the midst of a new era which will change life as we know it. Will it be a technological and sustainable revolution that will limit the damage cause by climate change and provide a better quality of life for everyone on the planet, including the planet herself? Or will we witness the beginning of the end?