Quick tips for boosting brand sustainability whilst preserving your bottom line

Michael Stausholm, the mind behind the world’s first plantable pencils which are used by the likes of Michelle Obama, Disney and Coca-Cola, provides quick tips for corporate sustainability whilst preserving your bottom line

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Image of sustainable Sprout World pencil

Customer experience strategy

My own company Sprout was founded in 2013 at a time when sustainability was something everyone was talking about, but few understood how to deal with, no matter if you were a corporation or a consumer. That has changed and is changing. The focus on climate change, responsible purchasing and sustainable production has never been bigger.

Sprout was born with the mission of fighting the use of plastic and encouraging people and companies to adopt more eco-sustainable habits, so sustainability is in the DNA of Sprout. We like to think of our Sprout pencil as a green messenger and icebreaker to start a conversation about sustainability. The product is an illustration of how easy sustainability can be: take a product and once you are finished with it, use it for something else, in this case, plant it and literally give the product a new life. It is about how we can do small things in our everyday lives, which when added up, can actually make a difference. A Sprout pencil cannot save the world, but it can hopefully help inspire small everyday changes. All too often, sustainability is too complicated and too big to comprehend for most of us.

Everything points to sustainability no longer being just a trend, but something that companies must integrate in their daily operations. 

Corporate sustainability tips: 

1. Make convenience a priority for consumers

It might not come as huge surprise but convenience beats sustainability every time. This sets higher demands for the product development departments in today’s companies but we need to make it easy for customers to be eco-friendly.

2. Make sustainable products more affordable for all

Affordability plays a crucial role in what people consume. As long as it’s cheaper to always buy low quality food, clothes and toys, there will always be products made of cheap plastic at staggeringly low prices, and as a result, produced under terrible work conditions in order to meet those prices. There is a cost to everything after all.

3. Companies must practise transparency

Being a consumer and trying to do the right thing can be extremely difficult due to the total lack of transparency exhibited by various industries, brands and products. We need substance behind claims, not buzzwords. Raise the standards at every level of your supply chains and be transparent about this, only then can consumers truly start to buy more consciously.

4. Walk the sustainability talk

As a company, you only get so far with sustainability messages. You need to walk the talk. This means one-liner claims such as “Our packaging is CO2 neutral” are not good enough.

If you sell in Europe, you must be able to document that the material is sourced and produced locally in Europe, and no, producing in China to sell in Europe is far from sustainable. And if you purchase CO2 coupons to offset your China production and transport, this is lazy, and an easy way to avoid actually doing something about your CO2 impact.

Check out Michael's first post on the realities of sustainability in business and its role in customer loyalty here.