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  • Writer's pictureLaura Slack

What does sustainable mean?

Sustainable. It is a word we all hear all the time. Some love it. Some hate it. Some have a clear view of what it means. Others have no clue. Add into the mix greenwashing, greenhushing, purposewashing and the rest and the water is far from clear.

Really what it boils down to is that in trying to do 'the right thing' we all have different priorities, different ways of being, of doing businesses and life. What one person thinks is a good, sustainable business choice, another may strongly disagree with.

Defining Sustainable

The Cambridge Dictionary defines sustainable as:

  1. Able to continue over a period of time

  2. Causing, or made in a way that causes, little or no damage to the environment and therefore able to continue for a long time

That does make sense. Ultimately if our choices and actions cause a lot of damage to the environment they cannot go on forever. In that sense it is simple.

Greenpeace have an interesting page on their website. It says "The truth is, it's actually quite difficult for something to be truly sustainable, especially if it's happening on a large scale. For a long time, societies like ours in the UK have been built around unsustainable ways of doing things, It's not just that everyone's allowed to take more than their fair share - things are often set up so it's impossible not to."

A simple example of this is fruit and vegetables in plastic. Most supermarkets have more in plastic than out of plastic options. Even if the consumer wants to buy without plastic, the big businesses make it so much harder and sometimes impossible. In no way are onions in plastic nets sustainable. This may seem minor, but according to Wrap 70,000, yes SEVENTY THOUSAND TONNES, of hard to recycle plastic is used to wrap UNCUT fruit and vegetables in the UK each year. The mind boggles.

What does sustainable mean for your business?

Hannah Keartland, founder of B Corp Certified Keartland & Co, defines sustainable business as having 4 pillars:

  1. Financial - without a financially sustainable business you business.

  2. Adaptive and innovative - a business that is able to evolve and respond to the external world. To make changes and move forward rather than stagnate.

  3. People - being sustainable includes treating people well. From those working directly with or for the businesses to those at the far end of the supply chain. Treating people well gives them choices, gives them a healthier lifestyle and helps look after the planet.

  4. Environment - using resources at a rate they can be replenished and producing waste at a rate it can be dealt with.

Making sustainable changes

Hannah's definition says it all. It encapsulates what is needed to have a businesses that will be here in 10 years time. But 'how' is a very real challenge.

Many business leaders want to do 'the right thing', but it can be very hard to see the wood for the trees when you are fully engrossed within the every day workings and challenges of leadership.

This is a challenge that B Corp is designed for. In completing the B Impact Assessment your business will be thoroughly analysed. It will help to identify where your business is doing well, and where improvements can be made.

If you want your businesses to truly be sustainable then B Corp Certification is for you.

To learn more about B Corp and how I can assist you with certification or recertification please do get in touch.

Take care,


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