First Things First: What’s the concept of “sustainability” that everyone has been talking about?
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01 October 2022

First Things First: What’s the concept of “sustainability” that everyone has been talking about?

First Things First: What’s the concept of “sustainability” that everyone has been talking about?

Everyone has heard about sustainability at some point in their lives. It's almost as famous as the concept of Santa Claus. But there’s an important difference: we talk about sustainability all year round, not just during Christmas. Whether because someone starts the famous plastic straws discussion or even during day to day life where we are encouraged to consume more organic products or even to buy more sustainable pieces of clothing.

But these are just some small illustrative examples of a far bigger and more complex subject. So to start from the beginning: what is sustainability after all?

The definition that gathers the most consensus and is frequently cited is from a report called Our Common Future, also known as the Brundtland Report, published in 1987 by a UN Commission. This report, which was the first to use the sustainable development concept, defined sustainability as the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs while ensuring a balance between economic growth, a care for the environment, and the social well-being.

Contrary to popular belief, sustainability isn’t just about ecological and environmental issues. It involves several other factors. And it is not only a concern for governments and ONGs, but also for the private sector – which has made sustainability a long-term strategy. There are, in fact, a set of factors that help companies follow a more responsible and conscious path forward while achieving profit and a positive impact on society.

One of these factors are the ESG Indicators (Environmental, Social and Governance), which encompass environmental, social and governance issues that together help to assess the impact of a given organization in the community around them:

- The environmental side, we can easily deduce, concerns the company's behavior about ecological practices – how they manage their resources, whether they resort to waste treatment and whether they efficiently use the energy they consume, for example;

- The social side is a not-so-obvious factor. This side involves how the organization manages relationships with its employees but also with suppliers, customers, and the community in which it operates. A company can sell even the most environmentally perfect products on the market, but if it works with partners who do not share these same values, or who do not offer good work conditions to their workers all the good that is done is being somewhat lost in the process;

- The last one, governance concerns the company's policies and ethics and addresses issues such as the remuneration policies, the company's transparency towards its clients regarding its practices, and the diversity of its board of directors, among some others.

Although these indicators help people make more conscious choices when buying new products, a new obstacle has emerged: greenwashing. Seeing the rise of collective awareness regarding the state of our ecosystems, many brands have greedily bet on fallacious communication that makes them appear sustainable, when in fact that is not the case. This communication focuses mainly on the environmental and ecological issues of its products or initiatives. For example, they communicate that a product is certified, without referring to the certifying entity; they boast about not using certain techniques, when in fact these techniques have already been banned for several years.

MaxiLeaf's values ​​are aligned with a policy of transparency. On our website, you can find more detailed information about our relationship with ecology, our production process, our goals for the future, and our commitment to our community and the planet. You can also check out our product line, all produced with conscience!

Illustration by: Sustainability Illustrated

Author

Francisca Gomes

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