• Mina Phillips

How to Create a Sustainable Business

Updated: Jul 30, 2021

Before COVID-19, New Zealanders were already making a conscious shift in the way that they shopped. A recent survey found that sustainability considerations influenced consumer choices of more than half of those surveyed. Since the closure of international borders due to COVID-19, New Zealand businesses have also noticed the difference in consumer behaviour. In an interview with Stuff, (founder of sustainable wool business Hipi) Kate Tosswill tells: “At first [Covid-19] seemed like an end-of-the-world disaster [] But quickly we saw there was a change in the consumer trends and it strengthened what we were doing in terms of New Zealand made, sustainable, environmentally friendly products that have a story behind them.”

Oxfam supports this judgement in a post titled Fast Fashion Gets the Boot in 2020, where the organisation states: “We have seen a lot of positive changes last year, within New Zealand, and around the globe.” Pair this with Newsroom co-editor Mark Jenning’s claim that “Buying New Zealand-made goods is being promoted as a fast way to restore the economy and save jobs” and you have got all-the-more reason to source local, sustainable products and target local, conscious customers. If you would like to implement some sustainable changes into your business, start by considering the following:

What materials are being used?

Whether you are creating your own products or sourcing them from another manufacturer, be mindful of the materials you use. Look out for microplastics, which cannot break down and tend to end up in our oceans. Fabrics such as nylon, polyester (which are non-biodegradable) and inorganic cotton (which requires high water quantities) should also be avoided. Ultimately, it is your responsibility to ensure that the products that you are selling have been made using sustainable materials, so do your research.

How are your materials being sourced?

In the world of sustainable business, it is essential to know where your products are coming from. Can you easily trace where each product originated? If not, you might want to do some digging or look elsewhere. For example, if you are a furniture manufacturer, opt for FSC certified products - this helps to ensure that they have been responsibly sourced and helps your customers to know that you are a responsible business. Products that have originated through organic farming methods are generally far more sustainable than alternative methods, due to the positive environmental practices used.

How are your products being manufactured?

From there, you will also want to look at the process involved in manufacturing your product/s. If, for example, you are selling clothes that are consistently being pumped out in large quantities by an overseas manufacturer - it’s probably not environmentally or socially responsible. Opt for quality over quantity using supply chains that you know you can trust. Because New Zealand has laws surrounding a living wage and workers’ rights, you may find it easier to source socially-responsible products here. The bottom line - do your research when seeking out a manufacturer.

Is the product’s packaging sustainable?

Now that you’ve got your environmentally-friendly products figured out - don’t forget about the packaging! Instead of using plastic bags (which can take up to 1000 years to break down) opt for bags that are biodegradable or reusable. When it comes to packaging your product, New Zealand has plenty of conscious businesses who can help you with this. Ecoware offers sustainable and compostable food packing while Innocent has developed takeaway food packaging made from plants. You can even carry out online orders sustainably using environmentally-friendly packaging from r3pack.

Has it been certified by Ecocert?

Of course, one can only cover so much about sustainable business within one 600-word article. For further guidance on creating a sustainable and ethically-certified business, visit

Do you want to reach more customers?

As I’m sure you know, online marketing is a hugely important part of running a successful business. I can help you to reach and grow an audience of conscious local consumers who are looking for what you’re selling. Take a look at my portfolio and services for more information. To find out more, get in touch.

Thanks for stopping by! You might also be interested in reading: 5 Materials to Consider for Your Eco Build.