Reframing sustainability as an opportunity, not a compromise

  • 9 months ago
  • 6 Minutes to Read

As we’re getting stuck into week two here in Glasgow, what’s becoming increasingly clear is that we need a huge shift from businesses and governments if we’re to bring about systematic, positive change. The challenge, as communicators, is to present the climate crisis as an opportunity, rather than a compromise, in order to inspire everyone to take action. 

It’s clear from the speeches we’ve heard here in Glasgow that the way we talk about the climate crisis is shifting, and while we know we’ve still got a long way to go, we’re seeing an interesting transition in how sustainability is being framed. Along with an evident tone of urgency and seriousness, we’re also seeing more and more narratives that are reframing the way we look at sustainability, in order to encourage other businesses and organisations to follow suit. 

For years sustainability has had negative connotations and it’s been seen by many as something of a compromise. As a checkbox, as a headache and as a CSR obligation. All you need to do is flick through a sustainability report and this becomes clearly obvious. The focus is usually solely on the reduction of negative business impacts and tradeoffs the business has made, not on the new possibilities these changes have presented. Yet, in order to create the momentum we need, we must flip this narrative and focus on the opportunities being greener can have on brands and businesses. Only then, will we encourage everyone to get onboard.  

It’s important to think of sustainability as a driving force for better business. Not only can it improve efficiency in operations and decrease costs, but it can help attract and retain talented employees and help them to feel good about the work that they do. According to Deloitte, 75% of millennials want a job where they feel there is a sense of purpose towards people and the planet. Not only this, but it can help businesses gain an advantage, attract new customers and improve investment opportunities. Only, however, if it’s done with genuine intentions. 

And as we begin to see consumer pressure rising and communities looking to brands and businesses to lead the way, sustainability is no longer an option for businesses. In fact, 88% of consumers want brands to help them be more environmental and ethical (source: Forbes), and those brands that move quickly will be the ones who gain the competitive edge. 

If businesses and brands lead the way with this shift in thinking, we’ll soon begin to see a trickle down to consumers. The future of sustainability is exciting, and we should communicate it this way, presenting it as an opportunity and not a sacrifice. Let’s leave behind this outdated thinking and inspire people to get excited about what a more sustainable future can bring.


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