The pandemic presented lots of challenges to individuals and businesses that were committed to sustainable practices. As a result, many feel that they took a step backward in their crusade to regenerate our world, but the truth is that the pandemic also forced us to live more sustainably than before, even if we haven’t realized it. Although the prioritization of human health over environmental health delayed lots of global environmental goals such as reducing single-use plastic, new and more sustainable habits have resurfaced and changed our daily lives and the way companies are and will continue operating.
Don’t get discouraged.
In 2020 single-use plastics skyrocketed due to increased consumption of personal protective devices such as face masks and gloves, plastic cups, takeout utensils, and plastic packaging in general. There is a feeling of guilt and frustration among conscious individuals as we feel we are moving backward on our crusade to implementing more sustainable practices. However, there are a few silver linings important to highlight. For every pound of extra waste that we generated, there are hundreds of people who reduced their driving and flying; several cities across the globe, like Beijing in China, were able to see blue skies again; and for a period, carbon emissions were reduced to acceptable levels like we haven't seen in years. Covid mobilized thousands of volunteers that helped the most vulnerable in our communities. We’ve seen teenagers delivering groceries to the elderly, food drives in several schools, and dozens of volunteers with smiles on their faces helping anxious patients go smoothly through vaccination appointments.
Covid will eventually go away, and most of the temporary environmentally damaging practices will be reduced while the new, more healthy practices will probably stay.
Companies are seriously committing to doing good.
The movement of promoting more conscious capitalism, in which businesses have active participation in promoting and generating a more sustainable world, went mainstream. As a result, practically all big corporations committed to running their operations more consciously, some by their desire to contribute and many by responding to consumers’ and employees’ demands. Regardless of the cause of this change, today, many companies are committed to helping meet the needs of everyone within the means of the planet, and the rise of social entrepreneurs is giving birth to a new generation of business owners that see business as a way to regenerate our world.
Consumer behavior is changing
This crisis also made us reflect on our consumer behavior. When things were not available, we were forced to manage our resources better. We all learned the meaning of limited availability because basic products such as toilet paper and cleaning products were in short supply, so we learned to be more resourceful and creative. Moreover, we experienced a rise in conscious consumers, who explored more sustainable ways of living and realized that by using less, we saved money, improved our health, and helped save our planet.
Health and well-being have become a priority.
Since the pandemic started, more and more people are taking daily walks and exercising more often. In addition, families spend more time together, exploring nature, and spending time getting to know their neighbors. Employees’ health and well-being became a priority for several organizations that had to improvise and take measures to support their employees working from home and help them cope with the harsh reality of Covid.
Health and wellbeing have always been a relevant topic for people and organizations. Still, Covid brought a new dimension, turning the health and wellbeing of employees a central focus to most companies.
Build resilience & collaboration
Together we are learning to adapt to a new reality, in which collaboration is key to survival. The old way of a savage competence is slowly fading away. Business leaders are eager to contribute to solving the world’s most pressing problems. They want to be modern titans that stand out for greatness achievement. Despite their motivation, the truth is that more and more companies are integrating sustainable practices as a core part of their business—those who were already committed before Covid were the ones that performed better during this crisis.
Now that some parts of the world are feeling the end of this crisis, we should reflect as individuals and organizations and ask the following questions: What have we learned? What new habits have we incorporated that are good and we can carry forward to improve? The answers to these questions will show us how to build stronger, more responsible, and conscious organizations.