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Sustainability vs. regeneration


Uğur Köseoğlu

We can’t just keep things as they are and hope for the best. Our planet is in trouble and we need to take action to restore, replant and revive its natural systems. Businesses should be the ones leading the way, not consumers. Why? Because businesses have a much bigger impact (and let’s be honest, they are the ones who created many of the problems we face today).

But most businesses are just pretending to care. They all have a “sustainability” page on their website where they brag about their projects that show they care. But planting a tree doesn’t make up for the fact that their clothes are made of 90% plastic and will pollute our water with microplastics every time they are washed.

Giving 1% to charity doesn’t make up for the fact that they pay half of their staff so little that they have to use food banks to feed their families. Promising to go carbon-neutral by 2040 is not only too late, but it doesn’t fix the damage done by using materials that are linked to deforestation.

Sustainability has become a buzzword that has lost its meaning. Businesses are called “sustainable” if they do one or two things, like the ones I mentioned; but that’s not enough.

Regeneration, on the other hand, is about giving back more than we take, and it should be the new standard that all businesses aim for if we want to be part of the solution. If we want to motivate businesses to do better, we need to be clear about what we are trying to achieve. That’s why we need to change our message.

Regenerative businesses look at the big picture. Every business is on a journey – no one is perfect – everything we do affects our planet. But a business that puts its duty to people and the planet at its heart will stop making choices that harm our environment. It won’t keep doing things as usual, only doing things that look good on a website banner or a TV ad. Instead of just planting a tree for every order, regenerative businesses stop using materials that they know cause deforestation.

If we want to make the world better through business, we need to do more than just keeping things as they are. We need regenerative businesses.