Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword. It isn’t just a passing trend or another item to add to your business’s to-do list.

It’s a responsibility — and — to make a difference in your community and the wider communities around the world.

Finding these opportunities starts with the little things, like understanding how your business purchases of products, such as uniforms and workwear, contribute to the impact you leave on the world at large.

What is Sustainability in Business, Really?

The United Nations defines sustainability as “Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Sustainability is more than reducing your carbon footprint or becoming more eco-friendly; it’s about creating a better world for everyone.

Harvard Business School categorises business sustainability into two groups:

  1. The effect your business has on the environment.
  2. The effect your business has on society.

To run a sustainable business, you must strive to do so without negatively impacting society.

The key is finding a harmonious and responsible approach that takes into account and strikes a balance between various aspects, such as economic success, the wellbeing of people, and the planet over time.

Sustainability goes beyond simple practices such as recycling; whilst recycling is important, it’s just one aspect of a much broader concept. Sustainability is and should be a holistic concept, which by giving consideration to more wider ranging points such as social, economic, cultural, and ethical dimensions, empowers you to consider the complexity of real-world challenges and create solutions that are more sustainable, adaptable, and effective.

As business owners, we have a moral obligation to do what we can to positively impact the environment and society through our actions and choices.

Whether we realise it or not, we all leave some sort of mark on the world around us each day in our businesses. This mark can be for better or worse. The choice is up to us.

Real vs Fake: The Fine Line Between Green Entrepreneurship and “Greenwashing”

Slapping a “go green” hashtag on Earth Day just isn’t cutting it.

Your customers and employees want to work with an authentically green company.

Recent research by KPMG found that Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors influence nearly half of UK office professionals. In fact, the rising generations are ‘climate quitting’ — leaving their jobs to work for more sustainable, ethical organisations.

Of course, customers care even more. According to Forbes, 92% of consumers are more likely to trust environmentally or socially aware brands.

Yet, customers and employees know when you’re faking it — A.K.A., “greenwashing.”

Whilst both the terms Green Entrepreneurship and Greenwashing revolve around environmentally conscious actions, the fine line is based on the authenticity and credibility of a business’s environmental claims and practices.

Greenwashing occurs when companies make false or misleading claims about their sustainability efforts to appeal to more environmentally conscious consumers and capitalise on this. Marketing tactics claim the business is environmentally friendly and sustainable when, in reality, its actions are minimal, misleading, or even detrimental to the environment. It’s all just for show with the purpose of increasing profits.

Greenwashing can affect customer and employee loyalty and, of course, further contributes to global and local societal and environmental issues.

On the other hand, green entrepreneurship prioritises environmental and social sustainability alongside profitability. It’s about being mindful of the environmental impact of your business, from the sourcing of materials to the end-of-life management of your products.

These businesses are genuinely dedicated to promoting sustainability, reducing their environmental impact, and contributing positively to ecological wellbeing.

As consumers become increasingly informed about greenwashing, they are actively seeking authentic sustainability efforts from businesses, and companies that are transparent, genuine, and display meaningful environmental actions are more likely to build strong relationships with customers who tend in that direction.

Choosing Workwear for Your Business: A Choice That Creates a Ripple Effect

Green entrepreneurship starts with understanding the traceability of your investments. Purchasing something as straightforward as workwear for your employees requires understanding that there are complex processes involved, from textile production, garment manufacturing, and transportation, processes that involve a series of labourers, resources, and carbon footprints.

Even more, it’s realising those simple yet intentional investments, like sourcing sustainable workwear, can significantly impact various aspects of society, the environment, and the economy.

You see, today’s workwear companies are just a small part of the wider fashion industry ecosystem. Before your employees put on their snazzy, custom uniforms, these products pass through a slew of businesses, all involved in the design, production, distribution, and marketing of the materials.

Buying from a truly “ethical clothing company” would mean that all of these businesses pass the quality check of safe working conditions, low carbon emissions, and minimal waste.

But unfortunately for most companies in the fashion industry — it’s anything but.

The Harsh Reality of Labour & Environment Crimes in the Fashion Industry

Fashion is the second most polluting industry in the world — that’s more than international flights and shipping combined.

We’ll let the research speak for itself:

  • It’s estimated that less than 2% of the world’s 75 million fashion factory workers earn a living wage.
  • The European Parliament has described some of the working conditions in the fashion supply chain as “slave labour.”
  • The fashion industry makes up 10% of the world’s carbon emissions.
  • The fashion industry uses 93 billion cubic metres of water each year. For scale, that could support the needs of five million people.
  • Over 55% of the eco-friendly claims made by European and UK fashion companies are false.

The Devastating Long-Term Risks of Shopping ‘Fast Fashion’

This is what we call “fast fashion” — whipping out trendy designs for the fastest, cheapest price possible, with little to no regard for social and environmental sustainability.

Fast fashion doesn’t just affect materials. It only begins with water waste, greenhouse gas emissions, and chemical pollution. If you take a step back, you can see that overconsumption and reckless regard for sustainability are depleting our resources. It’s leaving a social and cultural impact, polluting our oceans, threatening marine life and our food chains, and affecting the lives of hard-working, underpaid individuals and their families.

All for the sake of a “cheap outfit.”

The Pure Power of Sourcing From an Ethical Clothing Company

Sustainable workwear isn’t just clothing made from eco-friendly material.

Truly sustainable workwear is sourced from an ethical clothing company dedicated to assuring environmentally and socially responsible practices throughout the entire lifecycle of work uniforms: From the farming and extraction of the raw materials your garments are made from, being worn by your employees, through to the reuse, recycle or disposal and the end of the garments life.

An ethical clothing company must:

  • Choose materials that are eco-friendly and non-toxic.

  • Ensure all businesses involved use ethical production processes and labour conditions.
  • Understand how much transportation and waste was involved in the making.
  • Reduce waste and minimise negative environmental impacts.

As a business, you can make a difference.

You can make informed choices on the uniforms and workwear you purchase, how you wear and look after them, and how you dispose of them.

The Compounding Benefits of Investing in Sustainable Workwear

Green entrepreneurship is a win-win: The benefits of taking small yet simple steps like investing in sustainable workwear can be the beginning of real change.

Sustainable workwear benefits your business, your customers, your employees, your community — everyone:

  • Foster Customer and Employee Loyalty.
    According to Forbes, 88% of consumers are more loyal to socially and environmentally conscious companies.
  • It Pays to Care.
    Corporate responsibility practices can drive sales up to 20%, according to Harvard Business Review.
  • It Saves to Care.
    An ethical clothing company designs sustainable workwear to last. This can reduce the need to replace clothing and save on costs in the long term.
  • Leave a Positive Impact on the World and Industry.
    Your example can add to the integrity of your supply chain, helping towards regulatory compliance.

How to Make a Change with Blue Piranha

Sometimes, it feels like there’s only so much we can do. So much of the world burning feels like it’s outside of our control.

But as a business owner, you do have the power to make a positive impact, starting within your company.

By choosing sustainable workwear for your company, you can take a stand against the harsh, damaging practices in the fashion industry. You can reduce your carbon footprint, support your employees, and show your customers you care.

Your opportunity to make this change is about to be easier than ever before. Later this year, Blue Piranha is launching a solution dedicated to helping businesses like yours create a more sustainable workplace.