Sustainability in the world of start-ups

The world of start-ups is quite an interesting one. It is a world in which people have to be very creative, take on challenges and where they have to make quick decisions. In addition to these things, they also have to make sure that they are operating within a sustainable environment.

Sustainability in general, becomes more and more important within the lives of everyone, not just within businesses. People at home, for example, make their lives more sustainable by separating their waste, by trying to eat less meat or by driving an electric car. Businesses on the other hand also have to cope with sustainability.

But what is sustainability exactly?

Many people think that being sustainable has to do with coping with your business or living your life without damaging the environment. Even though this is partly true, sustainability is much more than that. Sustainability demands an integration of social and environmental issues with economic issues. This means that especially businesses have to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment.

The start-ups that cope with all these aspects of sustainability are called green start-ups. Typically, the founders of these green start-ups are very passionate about what they are doing and truly believe in a sustainable world. Green start-ups often kickstart their businesses with the help of socially responsible investors, green investors, and popular crowdfunding platforms.

So how does this work in practice?

Creating a profitable company that is perfectly sustainable is quite challenging, however, there are some great examples of companies that are doing very well. You might have heard of Ben & Jerry’s, the popular ice cream brand by Unilever. As of the start of their company in 1978, Ben & Jerry’s has actively been working on creating a sustainable world for everyone. All ingredients are fair trade, and the brownies they use are coming from a special bakery where every employee is welcome even though they have a criminal past. Moreover, Ben & Jerry’s now runs the Ice Academy, a start-up school in which new entrepreneurs can develop their company better while gaining working experience. So even though Ben & Jerry’s currently isn’t a start-up anymore, they started as a great sustainable company in the past.

Another, more recent, example is Fairphone. The Dutch company founded in 2010 designs and produces fair smartphones. The company makes sure that the raw materials in the phone do not come from conflict areas. Besides, all workers receive a fair wage for assembling the smartphone. On top of all this, the company donates three euros of every smartphone sold to a service organization that involves the recycling of the electronic waste in developing countries.

In the upcoming years, the amount of green start-ups is expected to grow as consumers and investors will increase their supportin these specific types of businesses. Every single green start-up will contribute to a better world in which social and environmental well-being are being balanced with economic profitability.

This post was written by AIESEC in the Netherlands. We offer international voluntary projects and professional internships with the aim of developing leadership in youth. 

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