As more individuals adapt their consumption habits to live environmentally conscious lives, businesses are clamoring for attention, loudly proclaiming their sustainability efforts both in-store and online. But does it still make you stand out?
And sustainability? What does that even mean? Originally signifying things that endure, nowadays, it primarily refers to products or practices produced or obtained in a way that minimally impacts the environment and nature. However, the term has been somewhat diluted, often taken with a pinch of salt.
Even if something is sustainably produced, it still has an impact on Mother Earth, albeit minimized according to the definition. This implies that, despite efforts, the environment, already in a precarious state, is still gradually deteriorating. Hence, there's a growing advocacy for regenerative entrepreneurship—giving back more than taking.
This approach benefits not only nature but also promotes a fair world and distribution. Society, too, reaps the rewards. Surprisingly, it's advantageous for businesses themselves. While financial gain isn't the primary goal in regenerative entrepreneurship, these companies tend to be more profitable, boast loyal customer bases, and grow faster than their counterparts.
Regenerative entrepreneurship is worth looking at. So, in this blog, we delve into the distinctions between sustainability and regenerative entrepreneurship, how businesses can embark on this journey, and how to start by picking the low-hanging fruit.
Regenerative Entrepreneurship vs. Sustainability
Regenerative entrepreneurship surpasses the realms of sustainable business practices. It's the shift from 'do no harm' to actively 'restore and improve.' Instead of mere compensation, regenerative entrepreneurs strive to prevent emissions, aiming even for CO2 negativity.
We'll illustrate how this can be done with your IT consumption. But first, let's explore another notable example of a regenerative enterprise: Patagonia, the renowned outdoor gear brand. In every decision they make, their primary focus is on the impact on people and nature, only then turning their attention to profit. Their business model revolves around minimizing waste, utilizing recycled materials, and promoting fair labor practices. This approach has cultivated a devoted customer base who swear by their products.
Another case in point is the Belgian company Ecover, likely a familiar name on store shelves. They specialize in producing plant-based cleaning products. With the slogan "waste is only waste if we squander it," they recently introduced a limited edition of cleaning products containing up to 97% recycled food waste. In their business model, they advocate for the use of renewable resources and minimize the use of harmful chemicals. Despite the stagnant growth in the cleaning products market, the market share of Ecover has expanded, as revealed by one of the managers in an interview. Regenerative entrepreneurship is undeniably rewarding for them as well.
Where to start?
The common thread among these thriving entrepreneurs is their seamless integration of the concept of regenerative entrepreneurship into every aspect of their businesses. They look at the big picture, focusing on the three Ps: product, people, and processes.
This immediately provides you with a practical checklist if you're considering venturing into regenerative entrepreneurship:
Product: When it comes to sustainable entrepreneurship, the emphasis is often on whether the product is made from sustainable materials. In regenerative entrepreneurship, the focus extends to the entire process—from production to waste. Questions like how much water is involved in production, the potential for water recycling, and the choice between newly produced plastic and recycled materials are crucial. Take a page from Ecover's book. A regenerative entrepreneur feels responsible not just during the product lifecycle but also considers what happens after. Can the product serve as material for something else, or can it be environmentally broken down?
People: This revolves around fair trade practices and supporting local communities. Is everyone in the entire chain of your product or service being paid fairly? Offering an equitable salary provides people with economic freedom and the ability to educate their children, ensuring economic freedom for the next generation. It's also essential to critically evaluate the individual responsibility of employees within the company and the contribution your business makes to the community where it operates.
Process: While many companies already examine their processes from a sustainability perspective, regenerative entrepreneurship takes it a step further. Can you prevent CO2 emissions, perhaps by utilizing renewable energy sources? Beyond the production process, consider the impact of other processes on the environment. Did you know that your IT consumption has a significant impact? While digital meetings are more environmentally friendly than face-to-face ones, they still require data centers that consume energy and water. Therefore, it's crucial to assess the environmental friendliness of your cloud provider.
Easy to get started
If you critically examine these three themes, you often find many areas that can be improved and implemented immediately without drastically altering your business operations or production processes.
Take a look at your IT provider, for example. IT is undoubtedly essential for your company, but you don't want the environment and society to suffer due to your IT consumption. That's why, at Leafcloud, we don't construct large data centers that burden the water supply and energy grid of the region. We place our servers in existing buildings in Amsterdam. The residual heat from these servers is directly utilized to heat tap water. This means residents require fewer fossil fuels and don't need energy to cool the servers. We are already consuming less energy, and all the energy we use is green. This ultimately results in a negative CO2 footprint. If you want to understand the details, read this article. You'll see that our cloud services align perfectly with regenerative entrepreneurship
Regenerative entrepreneurship proves to be not only beneficial for the environment but also for society and businesses themselves. By integrating regenerative practices into the core of operations, companies can achieve long-term success, attract loyal customers, and contribute to a fair and sustainable world. For more information about Leafcloud's approach to regenerative entrepreneurship, visit our website or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.