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How a post-COVID-19 world brings opportunities to Rebuild Business, Sustainably

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Earlier this year the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe in a matter of weeks, forcing businesses in a wide range of industries to shut their doors indefinitely. The odd good news story during these dark times shows that while the world was at home the air became fresher, the water became cleaner, and pollution was significantly reduced.

Tackling COVID-19 has been no easy feat, and we’re not out of the woods yet. While some businesses had no choice but to shut down completely, others have embraced new ways of working. It’s been a dress rehearsal of sorts for what the world could look like if we prioritized sustainability.

In time the world will return to a version of its old normal as vaccines are made and countries open back up. So as we get closer to a post-COVID-19 world, what lessons can we take into the future so that when we do set about piecing things back together we’re all able to rebuild, better? 

Set sustainability goals

COVID-19 has given us a glimpse into a world of reduced emissions. Across all industries, sustainability is an increasing area of focus, with many major corporations already working towards zero carbon or carbon-neutral goals. 

We can all do our bit to retain what we’ve gained. For businesses, this begins with goal setting and strategic planning. Every business will have a different set of sustainability goals and practical ways to achieve them, but this is the first and most critical step in rebuilding for a more sustainable future.

The COVID-19 crisis has shown us that reduced carbon emissions have a significant positive impact on the environment, so now is the time to increase the momentum in our efforts towards more sustainable business practices.

Optimize your e-commerce experience

The conscious decision to limit human interaction has meant we’re making more online purchases than ever before. The spike in online sales for April was so significant, e-commerce analysts compared it to a Black Friday Sale frenzy.

From a sustainability perspective, online purchases reduce the environmental impact by eliminating the need to travel. While couriers do the hard work on behalf of hundreds of consumers, there is no need for individuals to travel from shop to shop when they can get what they want from the comfort of their own home.

Selling products online has long been a possibility, but companies are now selling services online too. With online platforms making it possible to meet and discuss virtually, all kinds of industries are benefiting from an online presence in the age of COVID-19.

Prioritizing e-commerce optimization and utilizing virtual platforms enables more staff to continue working from home and fewer customers traveling to acquire a product or service. 

We have seen first hand the undeniable benefits of fewer cars on the road.

Recognize and adapt to consumer trends

As the world changes with COVID-19, so too do consumer trends. We went from frugally stockpiling to frenzied online spending in a matter of weeks. No industry is immune to the rapidly changing consumer behavior. From fashion to food, it seems consumers are showing their personal commitment to sustainability. It’s how we adapt that counts. Let’s look at some examples.

Buying local 

Since the pandemic began, the fashion industry has seen more consumers ‘buy local’, leading to a reduction in the number of fast fashion purchases. Fast fashion has become an increasingly contentious environmental issue since discovering it contributes to 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions.

The ‘buy local’ trend has two important implications for consumers: it supports local businesses in a time of financial hardship, and it reduces the demand for mass-produced goods that ultimately end up in a landfill.

Demand for non-meat products

In the food production industry, COVID-19 has developed a new stigma around eating meat after wet market revelations came to the surface, resulting in a huge demand for non-meat products in April. As meat was in shorter supply than fresh produce during periods of lockdown, consumers also began to understand that fresh produce is a more sustainable food choice going forward.

Focus on food safety

The increased consumer focus on food safety during COVID-19 has meant consumers committed to sustainability have had to compromise. Do they opt for loose fruit and vegetables to support environmental change? Or do they opt for packaged fruit and vegetables and adhere to food safety advice?

Many producers are switching to sustainable packaging options to appeal to the eco-conscious consumer and rebuild sustainably after COVID-19. Sustainable packaging gives the best of both worlds: safe, hygienic food without plastic waste. 

Consumer trends change constantly and it’s the industries that adapt – rather than ignore – that always come out on top. Now is our chance to adapt sustainably, and we should endeavor to do so wherever possible.

Walk the talk

The term ‘new normal’ is thrown around a lot when we talk about a post-COVID-19 world. But what does ‘normal’ look like now? What if zero carbon emissions were normal? Sustainable packaging? Renewable energy? Working from home? We all have our part to play. It’s one thing to say you’ll rebuild sustainably, but actively achieving sustainability goals is what’s really important here.

How we manufacture, package and offer services will be critical factors in how we rebuild sustainably in a post-COVID-19 world. Let’s hold on to the silver lining and look into the future with a collective commitment to the environment.

PG

Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to greensneha@yahoo.in

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