Published 3 years ago.
About a 6 minute read.
Image: Taufik Abdullah/Pixabay
/ This article is sponsored by
Although the danger to our health is currently very present and very real, experts expect this crisis will at some point pass, and we will be able to resume our normal lives with a renewed sense of appreciation. The question is, what will a return to “business as usual” look like?
The coronavirus pandemic is an unprecedented global crisis that is changing the world. The
United Nations recently released a report entitled, Shared Responsibility,
calling on the global community to work together to slow the spread and fight
the virus. From
to business to our daily routines, the pandemic is changing the way the world
Most people are still reeling to adjust to disrupted supply chains, quarantining
and coping with uncertainty, while wondering what’s in store for our post-virus
Many sustainability experts are hopeful that halting business as usual on a
global front provides an opportunity to rethink our commitment to climate
change. Here are three ways that change is on the horizon.
It’s hard to overlook the swift and sudden response to COVID19 in comparison to
the much slower response to the other crisis facing humanity: Climate change. As
May Boeve, executive director of 350.org, said in a recent
interview with Fast
“We’ve seen that governments can act, and people can change their behavior, in a
very short amount of time … It shows that it’s possible for this kind of
mobilization of resources to take place in a short amount of time. In that
sense, that’s encouraging.” Comparing disease outbreaks and climate change,
Boeve also pointed out that in both cases, those most vulnerable are affected in
greater ways: “So, we see that pattern play out, as well ... and how the
response is and is not responding to that inequity and impact.”
This point is particularly important as many of the foods we enjoy every day —
and bananas — are grown in the tropics by farmers who often make only
$2/day. US consumers rely on cheap goods, products and services produced by
developing nations. However, paying more for such goods and services now can
help strengthen the supply chains we rely on both now and in the future. Farmers
in particular are some of the most affected by climate change and yet contribute
to it the least. A greater effort in more polluting countries to reduce
emissions will improve not only the futures of farmers but will also shore up
the food supply chains we all rely on. While these issues seem complex, the
simple choices consumers make in their shopping habits are the seeds of change.
Join us for a transformational experience at SB Brand-Led Culture Change — May 8-10 in Minneapolis. This event brings together hundreds of brand leaders eager to delve into radical lifestyle shifts and sustainable consumer behavior change at scale. The trends driving cultural acceleration are already underway, and you can be at the forefront of this transformative movement.
Coronavirus is forcing businesses to put people before
and uncovering cracks in the current system that are becoming canyons. In the
United States, a lack of sick pay and medical leave have come to the
forefront; coupled with the precarious predicament of hourly workers, who lack
all the formal vestiges of employment. On the other end of the spectrum, more
Directors and CEOs are juggling childcare while working from
offering an opportunity to cultivate empathy (and, ideally, policy) for their
lower-paid employees, many of whom struggle to afford formal childcare.
Outside of the US, companies are aware of the sudden vulnerabilities in their
supply chains. For example, with Malaysia the capital of the latex world,
the global supply of both medical
is running out. Such a concentration of output was previously a supply chain
efficiency — now, it’s a risk.
For farming communities in developing countries, such vulnerabilities are not
recent developments. Take cocoa, for example: Most cocoa is grown in West
Africa, where the life expectancy averages 60 years, and the average age of a
cocoa farmer is 50. Many young people do not want to go into farming because of
the poor pay and grueling work, and instead seek opportunity in larger cities —
leaving their farming communities. This is a ticking time bomb in ordinary
times, let alone during a time when a pandemic threatens older people at a
To truly put people first, companies should meaningfully acknowledge all people
who make their business possible, starting at the supply chain for raw goods and
According to the Fed, US unemployment rates could hit
as a result of this crisis. As a whole, US consumers have already buckled down
when it comes to spending. Businesses large and small, which have been shuttered
during the crisis, may not reopen.
Many people are no doubt confronting their overconsumption habits head on. For
organizations that advocate for more conscious consumption, these developments
could bring new opportunities. Fashion
an annual campaign that emerged in the wake of the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster in
is finding a new audience for its #LovedClothesLast
According to the global nonprofit, this crisis can help us reflect on the
overproduction and -consumption of fast
and instead, motivate us to take better care of the clothes we do have by
mending and making clothing last.
Fashion Revolution further calls on consumers to act: “If we do nothing, the
fashion industry will simply return to business as usual when this is all over.
Instead, let’s come together as a revolution and build a new system that values
the wellbeing of people and planet over profit.”
In these uncertain times, many brands are rising to the challenges faced by both
people and planet, as well as attracting more conscious
Certifications such as
are likely to see an increase in applications as companies seek out ways to tap
into existing sustainability systems that shoppers are demanding. Quality over
quantity will be a theme that carries on well after the pandemic passes.
Witnessing the entire world banding together to face this humanitarian threat
gives hope to a more sustainable future. A growing number of companies are
already putting people before
during the crisis. Although the danger to our health is currently very present
and very real, experts expect this crisis will at some point pass, and we will
be able to resume our normal lives with a renewed sense of appreciation. The
question is, what will a return to “business as usual” look like? The hope is
that surviving coronavirus brings out the best in humanity and changes
individuals, companies and systems for the benefit of all.
Published Apr 8, 2020 8am EDT / 5am PDT / 1pm BST / 2pm CEST
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.