Four common issues to watch out for when making your business sustainable


Society appears to have understood the need to be sustainable. The founding of Greenleaf however, came from a study into why this understanding was not correlating with a drop in world emissions. The study identified 4 factors blocking the uptake of eco-friendly practices.

The price barrier: Moving to a sustainable lifestyle can appear daunting. Searching supermarket shelves for environmentally-friendly products often reveals a price disparity that leaves you glancing back toward the less sustainable options – and it’s similar for businesses. Sustainability switchovers usually come with upfront costs, and the recovery can be long-term. If cash flow is tight, it’s enough to push the switch down the priority list. It’s understandable to feel ‘priced out’ from making the ‘right’ choice. 

The education barrier: Behavioral economics will tell you choices are often made with incomplete information. Navigating the sustainability landscape is hard, it requires scientific knowledge and a holistic approach – the latter already showing a disparity. Just knowing where to start is tricky, do we change our vehicles or packaging first? What are the consequences and what will have more impact? 

Then factor in that humans are notoriously bad estimators. We have a tendency towards short-term risk aversion and making decisions to satisfy a perceived version of ourselves. Even with complete information, it only takes the aspirational self-being slightly more in favour of social or economic gain and the classic long-term risk often overlooked is neglected again – the environmental effect. Triple bottom line thinking, with a weight for environmental effect proportional to the urgency of the climate crisis is essential. 

Image: Edmond Dantes/Pexels

The Inconvenience barrier: Walk to the shop, or drive? Weekly shop at the supermarket or trail round independent shops to get local produce? The inconvenience barrier can often seem like a large hill to climb, especially if you’re not blessed with a variety of options close by. Time can be a powerful motivator to hush your inner critic, even if it is ‘just this once’. Inconvenience also plays a part in dealing with the education barrier. Sure, there’s great information out there, but to educate yourself properly you need to invest your time… and we know how powerful that motivator can be.

The marketing barrier: It’s hard enough navigating the sustainability landscape, add in greenwashing and misinformation that quickly becomes a minefield.

Lack of appreciation or a search for sustainability “quick wins” by business leaders can often lead to misdirection. Unsubstantiated claims may be entirely negated by a company’s environmental impact elsewhere. Supermarkets rife with unregulated terms such as ‘natural’ and ‘eco-friendly’ can leave consumers with a false sense of shopping clean. Similarly, it makes it harder for genuine eco-friendly businesses to stand out. Current corporate use of offsetting can fall under the greenwashing umbrella all too often too. Companies with significant gross carbon outputs offsetting their way to net zero (as opposed to addressing their operations) can give them the feel of an eco-friendly organisation when in fact, their service or product is incredibly carbon-intensive. Next time you’re unsure of where to start, researching a company’s gross carbon figures or looking out for certifications that deal in gross carbon is a great place to start.

The traditional challenges of marketing also play a factor. Tesla has to have a price tag associated with luxury, whilst it’s easier for Toyota to make a product that differentiates itself in the Prius, rather than spend untold sums trying to do the same in promotion – neither leading to mass adoption. 

Society may have understood the need for sustainability but, for a number of reasons, has not come to terms with the reality of acting sustainably. That’s where Greenleaf comes in.

Greenleaf TDG’s service specifically tackles these four issues. Greenleaf’s platform and token system helps businesses engage with the sustainably-minded customer, enabling them to make more by going green and breaking down the price barrier. Greenleaf’s business audits and the Greenleaf app (coming out shortly) fill the information and knowledge gaps. Whilst Greenleaf Certificate deals only in gross carbon figures, clearly denoting the truly eco-friendly organisation. The services and tools, developed in line with the IPCC and GHG protocol, provide a full turnkey solution for entities wanting to go green.