This content is by Vick Rana, Group Chairman, Red Ridge Global

Few years will leave as indelible an imprint in the collective psyche of the global community as 2020 will. An epochal year, everyone who lived through this year will remember it for the trauma, the disturbances, the uncertainty and most tellingly, the grief that characterised this year. The strain was felt by small business, startups, individual entrepreneurs and large organisations alike. While most companies and businesses looked towards their governments for help, most governments had to dig deep to find answers. Naturally, some countries coped better than others, but nearly every major economy in the world had to grapple with a challenge of unprecedented proportions.

Fortunately, light did emerge at the end of it as the year is ending with positive news about vaccination trials, and next up is one of the most pressing matters for a vast majority of corporate houses across the world: to migrate towards sustainable practices. ‘Sustainability’ can ensure everyone Survival when the going gets tough and this year taught us how.

What is sustainability and why sustainability?

As has been understood by most corporates, there are a plethora of ways a business can become sustainable. While reducing waste is an excellent place to start, not contributing to the pollution crisis is an equally important step. However, we need a proactive approach, as shifting to clean energy, using sustainable raw materials, planting trees in the community and as minor change as going virtual, creating paperless office and avoiding unnecessary travel. The change should begin from the source, or manufacturing in business context. Be it a stationery manufacturer who is intent on developing eco-friendly pencils, or be it a toy factory who uses only renewable resources to craft green toys, non-harmful, and greater quality raw material and operations that affect and touch every factor of production in a positive way is the sustainability concept umbrella.

In the specific milieu context, we find ourselves in, here are three of the most pertinent trends we are likely to encounter in the coming year, vis-a-vis sustainability.

Virtual childhood, Virtual Everything

Our children across the globe are going to discuss their nostalgia stories filled with screen time schooling, online playdates and creating their crayon paintings on iPad. The human survival extinct helped big and small, cities and rural populace to evolve to a nicer arm on their body: an internet enabled device. The connectivity networks stretched in a steep curve and our lifestyles have shifted grudgingly at first, and assertively now since our young ones have displayed the maximum adaptability to this new normal. Art and play, learning and character-building exercises have an online module. This calls for toy brands across the world think out of the box literally. We must learn to create value in products that last long, have repeat use value without compromising on fun quotient. Cost reductions on traditional plastic components and investment on tech-based features, or nontoxic organic colours are some primary steps in the sustainability direction. Rest assured, this done right, gives the future generation better coping mechanisms and a ‘living responsibly’ lesson for lifetime. That! is nothing short of today a miracle considering s grim facts.

Limiting the need to travel

2020 taught the entire global workforce that Simple, efficient, cost-effective and reliable, video conferencing is here to stay. Not only cut massive costs but positively affect their employees as well as people have a chance to achieve a better work-life balance. Most importantly the planet can breathe easier as fewer CO2 emissions can be expected by the reduced travelling. It is also pertinent that, in unavoidable cases where individuals are required to travel for work, greener ways of transport such as trains (the electric variety) are a preferred choice in comparison to air travel. This is a significant development as studies have shown that air travel accounts for as much as 10 to 25% of the CO2 footprint of international companies.

Achieving climate neutrality

The gold standard for most businesses in the realm of sustainable practices is making sure that their company, over a period of time, if not immediately, becomes climate neutral. 'Reduce and Avoid CO2' is often a clear and direct message. While this can be achieved in several ways, the most important include switching to green electricity, creating production chains specifically for recycling, and by instituting CO2 compensation methods. A company can have few batter labels to market itself than being 'carbon neutral'.

Embracing a synergistic approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives

Perhaps, the single largest reason it took so long for companies to adopt sustainable practices is the belief that it comes at the cost of the balance sheet. Once organisations wholeheartedly embraced the idea that a profit and a difference can both be made at the same time, progress has been inevitable. Gone are the days when business strategy and CSR would operate in silos. In the current climate, a synergistic approach tends to correlate with growth in both social impact and stock market performance. The bottom line has been conquered!

There is only one way forward and that is to care for our planet as much as we care for the fellow human.


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