By all measures, our planet is currently in a state of imbalance. Greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and excess waste have raised the levels of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere, which has resulted in ocean acidification and rising ocean levels. These consequences have also been connected to more extreme weather patterns and seasons.
Yet, it seems that many of these negative consequences are caused by businesses, specifically these 100 main culprits.
One way that businesses can help restore balance is through a net positive approach. Following this approach, businesses contribute – than take away – more to society, the environment, and the global economy. It’s a mindset that focuses on net gain rather than net loss, which is a critical distinction because many sustainability efforts still result in some kind of environmental net loss despite their underlying morality.
In this article, we discuss 4 companies that have adopted a net positive approach in their business model.
With their One-for-One initiative, Tom’s donates a pair of shoes for each pair of shoes they sell. This has resulted in the donation of over 60 million pairs of shoes to children in need. Tom’s also engages in similar initiatives with its eyecare products and coffee products, donating glasses and clean water with each purchase.
Additionally, 80% of each shoe they produce is made from recycled waste. This means that only 20% of the shoe involves materials that have been removed from the earth. Thus, it’s clear that Tom’s is focused on sustainability and helping individuals in developing countries rather than merely maximizing profit.
Kingfisher is a retailing company based in London that sells home improvement goods and services. They have fully embraced the net positive approach and have recently released a sustainable growth plan that will guide their business until 2025.
What’s unique about this growth plan is that it puts customers at the heart of their strategy. For each goal, they specify how it will influence their customers in a positive way.
For example, one of their goals is to help customers create a healthier home and connect more with nature. Thus, they are focused not just on merely selling products, but on fostering a deeper relationship with the natural world.
Levi Strauss & Co
Levi Strauss & Co is another company that is taking a net positive approach to selling clothing. Instead of determining what would make their products most profitable and then setting their sustainability initiatives to support that, they have actually gone in the other direction. This means setting their initiatives first, and then allowing them to influence their design and marketing strategy.
In particular, they have decided to focus on the problem of water conservation and access to clean water, mainly because they realized how crucial water is for the production of their clothing. By 2020, they have promised to educate 100% of their foreign employees on the global water problem through an extensive set of lectures and courses.
In addition, they have focused on making the production of their clothing more efficient. This has translated to saving over 1 billion liters of water since 2011. They are truly pioneering sustainability efforts when it comes to water conservation.
Capgemini provides IT services to various clients throughout the world, operating in over 40 countries.
Due to the significant amount of energy they use to power their servers and data centers, Capgemini has implemented significant energy saving measures like high-efficiency lighting. Additionally, they frequently encourage remote video conferencing to prevent unnecessary traveling and to lower their carbon footprint.
Thus, they have identified their focus areas when it comes to sustainability and preserving the world’s resources and have not let their business model get in the way or promoting these values.
Our Final Thoughts on the Net Positive Approach
We think the Net Positive approach represents a subtle shift in thinking that just might change the world. While its technically impossible to measure the net effects of any action, whether by an individual or business, we think it’s still a good mindset to adopt in our increasingly unsustainable world.
Adopting this kind of thinking on a wider scale would mean that the fate of the planet is the first priority always. We think this radical shift is what is needed to help prevent global catastrophes. And it makes sense that businesses should be the pioneers in this area, as they are some of the biggest contributors of greenhouse gasses on the planet.
The only problem we envision is the over-emphasis on net gain. Technically, a company could engage in an incredibly destructive behavior, but also engage in extremely positive behavior. While the latter would certainly be welcome, it wouldn’t lessen the impact of the former. We think companies should focus both on generating a net positive as well as minimizing any kind of negative or unsustainable activity. Now that would truly be radical.