Ambitious initiatives by big companies may win the big headlines. But small businesses doing small things are making a big difference too, writes Amy DuFault
Sustainability headlines tend to focus on the big stuff: when Ikea aims to go “Forest-Positive” or Walmart grows its Sustainability Index. Big companies such as Unilever, Patagonia and GE have garnered plenty of well-deserved attention for their ambitious sustainability initiatives, but those initiatives, naturally, take a long time to roll out – and some, like Rio+20′s failed promises, never see the light of day.
Meanwhile, smaller values-led brands are taking baby steps that remain nearly unnoticed, but which – as in the story of the tortoise and the hare – could end up getting us to the end goals faster in the long run.
Take for instance, American shoe manufacturing company Keen, based in Portland, Oregon. Since its beginnings, the company, founded in 2003, has taken small steps toward sustainability, both in its operations and in how it gives back.
In 2010, it began manufacturing some of its footwear in Portland – which created local jobs – and, in 2014, it designed 15% smaller shoe boxes that instead of glues, utilized unique folding techniques to seal the box and hold it together.
“We don’t want customers to react to our sustainability initiative; rather, we want them to be inspired by it. Sustainability is all about participation and constant change,” says Chris Enlow, corporate social responsibility manager at Keen.
While these steps might not sound headline-worthy, more and more small businesses around the globe are finding that these tweaks can make real change to their bottom lines. And that’s a big deal considering that the US alone has more than 27m small businesses, which account for 99.7% of all US firms with employees, more than half of all US sales and 60%-80% of all new jobs created in the country.
Taken together, the potential for these small businesses to make a difference with incremental steps can be massive.
Read the full article on The Guardian here.