Defining Sustainability in your Brand

With the surge of the importance of sustainability not just in our products, but also in the way we produce those products, it is easy for companies to claim sustainability. Certain products are easily identified as sustainable (think electric cars and stainless steel water bottles). However, our culture has increased the accountability of companies claiming to be sustainable, especially when you create a product that might not be immediately associated with a green, clean sustainable future. (Let’s face it, we all can’t make clothing from a straw bale, or shoes from old tires) But as a society, we want proof.

It’s no longer just about the products you make, or the way in which you make them. Now, sustainability is about who are as an organization and the belief and support system that illustrates to everyone you live and breathe sustainability as a culture. At PFB, our bottom line is underscored with the belief that we make sustainable products in the most sustainable way possible, by people who believe in making the most sustainable difference. Now we can easily sit behind a desk and write all sorts of press about our sustainability, but the proof is in the pudding so to speak. This is where the Global Reporting Initiative comes in to play. Every year we supply this organization with our sustainability numbers in our operations, and publicly post them to our website for all to see. Now you have a baseline to build from. Once you have the foundation of sustainability in your products and practices, turn your attention to people.

Who represents your brand? Your people do. So if you want sustainability associated with the definition of who you are as an organization, you start with the people. You may be surprised at the ideas percolating within your organization for ways to turn even the smallest every day activity into a sustainable action. Not only will you empower your employees to take initiatives and make a difference, but you create sustainability ambassadors, the same people who represent your brand, are an extension of your sustainability practices. When everyone is working towards a goal for change, when you have buy-in and support from those on the ground floor all the way to the top, it creates the culture of your brand. You now have living breathing messaging that your brand values the future and how your company impacts it.

A few years ago, PFB featured a sustainability initiative contest among all of its North American locations, imploring its people to think outside the box, and generate sustainability ideas that could be implemented within the organization. It was a hit. The participation was like no other contest before it. Why? Because the concept touched every single person regardless of whether they worked on the manufacturing floor or sales, human resources, and more. Sustainability touches every single one of us. When a corporation understands and listens to the ideas of all involved in the process, it broadens the scope of possibilities for change and enhances the belief in the brand.

People want to make a difference, and by implementing sustainability initiatives within your organization it helps show them they make an impact. I encourage you, no I CHALLENGE you to try it. Call out to the people who make your brand what it is. You will be surprised how innovative and creative your organization can be when you put your faith in the people who don’t just make your products, but make your brand, and therefore make a difference.

Want to see our sustainability reporting? Take a look today at http://www.pfbsustainability.com/envdata.html

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