Stages of Becoming an Ecologically Sustainable Organization

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  • 0:56 Non-Compliance
  • 1:59 Compliance
  • 2:29 Beyond Compliance
  • 3:09 Integrated Strategy
  • 3:43 Passion and Purpose
  • 4:20 Ways to Promote Sustainability
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
The business community has an interest in reducing ecological damage. In this lesson, you will learn the stages through which firms progress as they become more sustainable.

Ecologically Sustainable Company

Images of birds covered in spilled oil, cancer clusters in neighborhoods due to pollution, and smog alerts in major cities have all been featured prominently on the news. Most of the blame has been targeted to organizations that did not care about the environment. In today's competitive business world, companies that want to survive need to form an ecologically sustainable organization.

An ecologically sustainable organization operates consistently with principles of sustainable development, which conduct business to meet the needs of current customers without compromising future generations' ability to live. In this lesson, you will learn about economically sustainable organizations and the stages through which firms progress as they become more sustainable. In addition, we will identify the steps the global business community can take to reduce ecological damage and to promote sustainable development.


Sustainable development requires that natural resources are used at an amount that can be extended over an infinite period. Companies that strive for sustainability move through five different stages. Let's take a look at Makeup Work, a leading women's cosmetics company, to see how they evolved into a well-known leader in ecological sustainability. The first stage is non-compliance, and at this point, companies, like Makeup Work, do not care about sustainability and, in fact, cut corners in the name of profits.

For example, Makeup Work used subpar ingredients in the manufacturing of their makeup, which resulted in the byproduct damaging the local environment. Companies at this stage blatantly disregard any type of protective and safety regulation that cause their actions to be illegal. Makeup Work, like most companies, did not linger very long at this first stage as the potential for fines, legal battles, and public outcry was imminent.


The second stage of sustainability is compliance, where a company, like Makeup Work, starts to embrace all safety, health and environmental regulation. Although the company is not endorsing sustainability yet, they are at least obliging the bare minimum legally to avoid negative responses from society and government.

When Makeup Work was in the second stage, they treated society as their dumpsite for manufacturing waste. In addition, they had no issues destroying natural resources for profit.

Beyond Compliance

In the third stage, called beyond compliance, Makeup Work finally realized that sustainability could help the company save money by decreasing energy usage, saving water, and decreasing waste-handling and packaging costs. For example, the marketing department redesigned the cosmetic packaging to eliminate wasteful additional materials such as double plastic seals and boxes. At this stage, companies look to the idea of sustainability as a good public relations idea and profit enhancer. Makeup Work has not fully integrated sustainability into all of their departments and product strategies.

Integrated Strategy

The integrated strategy stage has finally found Makeup Work with a committed ecologically sustainable business model that is integrated into all key business strategies. Makeup Work can claim that they are a fully sustainable company through the use of biocatalytic production of their cosmetics. The production process uses less energy, no acids, and eliminates the need for solvents during the making of their cosmetics. In fact, Makeup Work can use their ecological commitment as a way of differentiating themselves from their competition.

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