Minimalism: The Key to Building a Sustainable Business
By: Tamara Abu Ali
Nowadays, the significance of minimalism is evident, considering the upsurge in conscious consumerism. Businesses undoubtedly play a vital role in preserving the environment; the following article illustrates how companies can ensure sustainability by adopting minimalist business strategies.
Minimalism is a concept that first appeared in the late 1950s and 1960s (Minimalism - Art Term, n.d.). It was described as an innovative movement in the visual arts and music industries. Minimalism in arts mainly focused on the essential elements of an artwork (Minimalism - Art Term, n.d.). However, over the years, minimalism has evolved into more than just an art movement. It has become a lifestyle many businesses and individuals adopt due to its cost-effectiveness and waste reduction benefits (A Brief History of Minimalism, 2020). The growth of minimalism has positively influenced subcultures that aim to achieve meaningful environment-friendly goals, such as starting movements against processed foods and fast fashion (A Brief History of Minimalism, 2020).
Moreover, the concept of "less is more" introduced by architect Ludwig Mies embodies how businesses have incorporated sustainable commitments in their operations, whether it be through innovative office designs or campaigns that promote sustainability (A Brief History of Minimalism, 2020; Sharma, 2019). Minimalism endorses sustainability, thus allowing companies to achieve corporate environmental responsibility. If adopted in a company’s early stages by implementing minimalist hiring strategies and satisfying consumers’ minimalist needs, minimalism can serve as the ultimate guide to building a sustainable business.
Sustainability is profoundly rooted in minimalism. Sustainability’s correlation with minimalism is more than just marketing buzzwords; within the corporate world, sustainability focuses on reducing the environmental impacts of business operations (Daisyme, 2019). Some sustainable practices adopted by eco-friendly companies include minimizing consumption, reducing waste, and recycling leftover materials (Nichols, 2018). Business sustainability also enables companies to build compassionate and considerate brand images that familiarize the public with its intentions towards the people and environments affected by its decisions (Sustainability, n.d.).
For instance, Loblaw Companies Limited, a Canadian food retailer, is committed to creating positive environmental and social change. Five corporate social responsibility principles guide Loblaw’s approach to business: “respect the environment, source with integrity, make a positive difference in our community, reflect our nation's diversity, and be a great place to work” (Corporate Social Responsibility Report, 2013).
Image: Loblaws Inc. and Second Harvest Canada. All rights reserved.
Loblaw focuses on making a difference in communities across Canada by funding research projects that aim to resolve challenges in the sustainable food industry (Mead, 2019). It has also initiated educational campaigns to raise consumer awareness regarding the importance of leading minimalist lifestyles in helping reduce food waste (Corporate Social Responsibility, 2020).
Adopting a minimalist hiring strategy is crucial for a company to achieve sustainable growth in the business industry. Companies that hire excessive workers tend to fire them more frequently; this unsustainable hiring strategy leads to a lack of stability and an unsatisfactory quality of work (Matsangou, 2017). However, a minimalist hiring strategy focuses on the quality of employees rather than the quantity. By adopting a minimalist hiring strategy, companies can reduce employees and allocate more resources to speed up growth. Hiring fewer but more skilled employees creates the perfect approach for profitability in this day and age (Barkett, 2020).
The Giving Movement is an exclusively transparent minimalist clothing company based in the United Arab Emirates and founded by Mr. Dominic Nowell-Barnes. The Giving Movement’s hiring strategy is very selective. Hiring managers eminently value characteristics such as creativity and passion. They focus on building a team in which employees are passionate about their jobs, consequently boosting productivity (Bellheather, 2020). All employees at The Giving Movement are of legal working age and are given reasonable working hours, paid generous wages, allowed unionization, and provided with safe working conditions and protective equipment (The Giving Movement, n.d.).
Furthermore, a company’s consumers are of paramount significance in determining whether or not a business is booming. Consumers nowadays are increasingly adopting minimalism because they are more environmentally conscious than ever before. Therefore, they pressure big corporations to make sustainable commitments and adjustments to their cultures to meet consumers' minimalist needs (Charpail, 2017).
The Giving Movement is a game-changer when it comes to conscious consumerism in the fashion industry. What distinguishes it from other sustainable brands is its unique, minimalist website and clothing designs that shape its overall brand image. The Giving Movement delivers on its promises as it provides exceptional quality fabrics while still being sustainable. It recycles water bottles and uses certified organic bamboo to produce sustainable materials that can also be recycled in the future (The Giving Movement, n.d.). Additionally, it creates its packaging using biodegradable plant starch.
Image: The Giving Movement. All rights reserved.
The Giving Movement puts ethical manufacturing and the use of recycled materials at the core of its operations. Moreover, it operates in the UAE to run smoothly and ensure that its carbon footprint is lower than competing brands (The Giving Movement, n.d.).
Companies must consider adopting a minimalist, sustainable strategy from the beginning, as it is convoluted to do so in the future. Large businesses that solely focus on growing and generating higher revenues tend to overlook the importance of minimalism and the consequences of unsustainable business practices. In later stages of growth, it seems challenging to accomplish when they begin taking action towards sustainability.
For instance, in 2018, Starbucks announced that it would eliminate plastic straws as a step forward towards decreasing its consumption of plastic (Caron, 2018). It had set out to replace them with recyclable, strawless lids - a more sustainable option. However, the public criticized Starbucks for its decision. Considering that the bulk of Starbucks’ plastic consumption is in cups rather than straws, people believed the real issue was far from being solved (Caron, 2018).
Image: Starbucks. All rights reserved.
In conclusion, to achieve sustainability and ensure continuity within the corporate world, businesses must adopt minimalism in earlier stages by implementing minimalist hiring strategies and satisfying consumers’ minimalist needs. Furthermore, embracing minimalism in the business world is an investment in the Earth’s future that may be facilitated by taking initiatives to help preserve the environment and enhance consumers’ lives.
Companies must learn to abandon their capitalistic mentality that often engenders detrimental behaviour, such as exploiting natural resources and aggravating global warming that sabotages the environment. By making sustainable commitments and reducing the damaging impact of their operations on the environment, businesses will thrive like never before.
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