Defining Purpose: Why Purpose-Driven Companies Will Keep Making Waves in the New Year and Years to Come
There’s no denying that there’s been a pragmatic shift in today’s business climate—especially as it relates to changing consumer values, businesses working to decrease their negative ecological impacts, and of course, the emergence of brands working to solve global challenges. In a world prevalent with a looming climate crisis, high costs of well, everything, and demands from current and future generations for equality, equity, and accountability, we’re hopefully at a tipping point where the future is nothing but bright for all.
So, as the world of business evolves into the new age of conscious consumerism, circular business solutions, and the development of living in a way that works in unison with people, planet, profit, and purpose, what can we expect to see in the near future and beyond?
Throughout this feature, we’ll look at:
- Why there’s a shifting demand in the business sector
- Companies, trends, and brands to look out for that are working to change the world
- Ways you can get involved in creating a better world
Understanding Why There’s a Shift to Purpose-Driven Companies
To start, it’s critical to understand why there’s such an elevated demand for change in the 21st century and how it affects the future of businesses, societies, and ultimately, people worldwide.
One of the strongest contributing factors that’s causing a demand for change is the climate crisis. At this point, there’s no denying climate is not only changing, but also negatively affecting us all. A recent study published by Stanford’s Human and Planetary Health Postdoctoral Fellow, Britt Wray, found there’s a significant influx of anxiety in today’s youth as humans face countless climate disasters across the globe. Anxiety is so problematic, in fact, that it’s causing future generations to delay some of life’s most cherished moments, including getting married, starting a family, and investing in their futures. These revelations are not only heartbreaking but potentially detrimental for the future of society. If future generations feel unable to progress, how is humanity supposed to continue to advance into the next era? These are the types of questions that some are working to answer and solve, so humans as a species can continue to evolve. There is always an opportunity to make a change, but the change must start from within, and it must start now.
Shifting Consumer Trends
As we’ve spoken about in previous features, purchasing power is typically one of the best ways to incite change. According to a recent study by McKinsey & Company, nearly two-thirds of consumers are willing to pay more for products that are responsibly made, have positive impacts, and have very low (or no) carbon footprints. Because of this shift in consumer demands, it’s causing businesses to rethink their models, striving to find ways to have less negative environmental impacts, increase their positive impacts, and find sustainable solutions at scale (see below for reference).
Quality Over Quantity
For some brands, quality over quantity has always been their ethos. However, as the world becomes more focused on having less and keeping things longer, quality is the critical focus for most brands. With that in mind, some brands are finding ways to produce higher-quality items that have a less negative impact while lasting longer.
Good is Good for Business
Market studies have shown that doing good is good for business. Consumers are willing to spend more on products that carry little to no negative environmental or societal impacts and brands earn positive and credible recognition for their more altruistic approaches. These factors ultimately contribute to helping businesses contribute to their bottom lines without exploiting others in the process.
The Purpose-Driven Companies Making Waves
Whether old or new, big or small, we’ve curated a list of companies and brands working to solve legitimate issues, all while trying to find their place in the business landscape.
If you’re in the market for new shoes and want something comfortable, stylish, long-lasting, and most importantly, sustainable, Allbirds is the way to go. A newer company, Allbirds’ focus is to provide simple, quality shoes that are as good for the environment as they are for your feet.
The first of its kind, Brightmark is a leading waste solutions company working to solve some of the world’s most pressing waste challenges, including the plastic waste crisis and creating renewable natural gas (RNG) through strategic partnerships with farmers throughout the United States. Brightmark has a goal to divert over 8 million pounds of plastic waste and offset over 4.8 million metric tons of CO2 by 2025.
Believe it or not, the production of food (meat in particular) has a wide carbon footprint. Coupled with that is the scarcity of land, which is used to raise beef. Furthermore, unfortunately, many animals suffer from unethical farming conditions that are as horrendous as one can possibly imagine for a living creature. Impossible Foods is changing the way we think about food with its plant-based products. They offer a wide variety of products that taste just as good (some argue better) than the real thing. Even better? They have a very little carbon footprint and kill/harm no animals in making their products. The brand is doing so well that, in fact, they are popping up in global brands like Starbucks and Disney (it’s highly recommended to try their impossible meatballs at Pym Test Kitchen in Disneyland).
The incredible thing about companies such as Impossible is there are no compromises—delicious tasting food, low carbon footprints, and, most importantly, no animals are harmed or have to suffer in the process.
So, if you haven’t tried this brand, it’s highly recommended. You may never go back!
lululemon “like new” program
Another reputable brand, lululemon is not new to the market. However, their “like new” program is being beta tested to increase their sustainability and provide a way for consumers to be rewarded for their efforts. Through their program, lululemon shoppers can bring in old gear to either be resold or recycled into new products, with each item of clothing earning you a credit towards something new at lululemon. If that isn’t a win-win, it’s hard to say what is when it comes to high-end athleisure fashion.
Nike Grind Program
Nike is no stranger to anyone, it’s one of the biggest brands in the world. However, their “Nike Grind Program” might not be as well-known as it should be. Through this program, Nike manufactures scrap—unused manufacturing materials and end-of-life footwear, including rubber, foam, fiber, leather, and textiles—that is collected, separated, and reused or processed into new Nike Grind materials put into their products.
The North Face
Another well-known brand, The North Face brings a whole new meaning to the love of camping. To ramp up their efforts, The North Face is investing in finding new ways to make their products more sustainable, long-lasting, and protect the planet that we all love to explore.
Patagonia, to many, is seen as the “OG” brand of environmentalism. Their iconic products have always preached testaments to their quality, versatility, and affluent outdoor style. However, the strength in Patagonia truly lies in their values—fighting for causes they believe in and using their brand power to drive forward positive initiatives and create lasting environmental change.
Most of us have smartphones (and if you don’t, go you) in today’s technological era. And let’s be real – smartphones are not cheap, so it’s imperative to protect them. Pela is a brand that offers affordable and stylish phone cases (and other items) made from eco-conscious materials. As well, a lot of their products are biodegradable, fulfilling the true cycle of nature—from the earth, back to the earth.
RecycleForce is a company founded on improving the world and the lives of its workers. They are committed to reducing crime through employment and job training while improving the environment through recycling electronics. Since 2006, they have safely recycled more than 65 million pounds of electronic waste while providing job training to thousands of returning citizens. Because of businesses like RecycleForce, people are truly given a second chance, something that very few places do, and even fewer consider.
Fast fashion is a trend that many from the consumer side love, but many on the environmental side worry about. Fast fashion has caused an even greater amount of clothing to be produced, with many ending up in landfills across the world. Did you know that nearly 17 million TONS of textile clothing ended up in landfills in 2018 alone? And that’s just from the United States! Recover Fiber is trying to “close the loop” on the fashion industry, working to transform textile waste into low-impact, high-quality recycled fiber.
Unifi has been around for some time but isn’t always commonly known by households. One of their biggest feats is REPREVE, what they have coined as “The World's Leading Recycled Fiber”. Through REPREVE, Unifi recycles PET bottles to transform plastic bottles into flake, resin, and fiber of the highest quality and integrity.
A Norwegian manufacturer, Vestre creates social meeting places for millions of people with the motto “Everyone can save the world. A little.” They have made long-term sustainability a prerequisite in all parts of their operations, finding ways to create an environment that is beneficial for all.
Ways You Can Make an Impact as a Best for the World Leader
You don’t have to be a billion-dollar brand to make a difference. As the ancient proverb goes, “Little by little, a little becomes a lot.” Every person can make a difference, and the small things add up, even if it doesn’t always seem to show. As a Best for the World Leader, it’s critical to lead the charge on making a difference, watching others follow in your path.
If you speak to any sustainably focused brand, the first thing they will tell you is to consume less. While that’s easier said than done, it is a true statement, and it can be done. A few simple ways to consume less is to first ask, “what do I actually need?” When push comes to shove, you’ll realize you don’t need a whole lot. Other items you can consider are:
- Quality over quantity. Invest in things that will last longer and go further.
- Find ways to reuse or repurpose things you already have and turn them into something else.
- Stop caring about what others think. Keeping up with the Jones is one reason we have so much crap. It’s better to focus on the things that matter. As said so brilliantly by Leslie Knope, “We need to remember what's important in life: friends, waffles, work.”
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
This adage has been around since the ’70s and it still stands true today. Reduce means to consume less. Reuse means to get creative, find ways to make something serve a different purpose (i.e., using the same bag for groceries every time). Lastly, when you must get rid of something, make sure you can find a way to properly recycle it if able. Check with your local recycling services to understand what and how things are recycled. As well, do some research on places in your area that specialize in recycling or repurposing items that can be used to make new products instead of discarding them in a landfill.
We just listed various brands and organizations promoting environmental stewardship and working to close the loop on many industries. One of the easiest ways to make a change is to use your purchasing power to support things that can make the change at scale.
Share What You Know
Knowledge is power. If you have tips, tricks, ideas, or anything in between, there’s always a market for it, especially as it relates to making a positive impact on the world.
Use Your Skills to Grow an Industry
Some of the companies listed above are startups, continuously growing their footprint and looking for eager individuals who wish to make a positive lasting change for future generations. If you’re a newly vetted college graduate or a tenured professional looking to make a change, your skills are valuable, so why not use them somewhere that can make a difference?
Remember this, as a Best for the World Leader, it’s critical to understand the difference you can make in this world and how you can be the change you want to see. Ready to make an impact? Well, buckle up and get ready, the future is here, and the time is now.