When your business is sustainability, a sustainability statement is something you need. Sometimes called an ‘impact statement’, or folded into a broader ‘mission statement’, your sustainability statement should reflect a genuine commitment to operating ethically and sustainability. 
 
It’s a crucial communication tool, which can help you build trust with stakeholders – but it should also be central to your internal strategic planning. It creates a barometer for you to check your brand's progress against sustainability goals. And if done properly, it'll help you deftly sidestep the trap of accidental greenwashing. Ideally, your main statement should be backed up by detailed sustainability reports and policy. If this just isn't feasible right now, a brief, engaging statement on your website, speaking to your commitment and your progress is still a great place to start! 
 
Every business is different, but here are seven things every sustainability statement needs to have. 

Number One: A Story 

People love stories. Stories capture our collective imaginations and spur us into action. According to research, storytelling is part of how we humans are where we are today. Whatever your product, and however great your sustainability record is, your target client-base doesn’t just want a list of USPs – they want a why. Why did your brand got started? Why do they need your services? And why should they should pick you over your competitors? In short, they want a narrative. And when you’re a sustainable brand, your sustainability statement is a central part in this narrative.  

Number Two: Engaging language 

For your story to hit the mark, you need to use clear, engaging language, simple sentence structures and concepts that are easily relatable. That means avoiding jargon and technical terms. If a technical term is needed, then explain – not just what it means, but why people should care about it. You may often need to back up your goals and achievements with technical data. But you can still present this data in a way that's easy to understand and appealing to your target readers. All of this will help you connect with them on a human level and encourages them to keep reading! 

Number Three: What Does Sustainability Mean to You? 

Here are the openers to a few iconic sustainability statements already out there: 
 
At CERO Bikes we empower every day life with electric utility bicycles. 
 
The Climate Crisis is our business 
 
Our mission: end fossil fuels 
 
Whenever I work on a sustainability statement, the first question I always ask clients is ‘What does sustainability mean to you?’ The answer’s never quite the same. And if you look around, you'll find the answer to this question is the first line of almost every sustainability or mission statement known to man. 
 
When it comes to the big picture, most of us want broadly the same thing (to protect the planet and people living on it!). But your ethical brand’s precise perspective is unique. It’s the essence of what sets you apart. When it comes to broad sustainability goals, you and your key competitors probably more similar than you are different. But your starting point. Your hook. Should always be how you are different.  
 
From here, you can go into the weeds. Use facts and figures and USPs – but the answering this precise question should always be your starting point. 
 
It's this answer that lays out the foundations for your vision and purpose. It gives you a chance to explain why sustainability matters to your brand and the people powering it. Basically, it's the crux of your story. 

Number Four: Your Impact (Good and Bad) 

Your sustainability statement needs to provide a full and detailed picture of your brand’s current environmental impact across all aspects of its operations. To do this, cover off all key metrics and explain what you're doing to limit your negative impact and create a positive one. From carbon emissions, to diversity and inclusion, to keeping your supply chain ethical. 
 
This is a great place to highlight all the awesome work you're doing and some of your biggest sustainability wins. Have your products/services saved x amounts of carbon? Powered x million homes with green energy? Pulled three billion plastic bottles out of the ocean? Here's where you can plug that one more time. 
 
On the other hand, to be fully transparent and keep this positive stuff sounding real, you need to give it context. In what ways does your brand create a negative impact? By laying this out fairly and comprehensively, you're sidestepping any potential greenwashing accusations. You’re also showing you have something nearly every consumer is looking for these days – authenticity. 

Number Five: Goals and a Roadmap 

Before you start writing your sustainability statement, you need to sit down and work out what your short- and long-term goals are. Unless you're a solopreneur, a team discussion is needed. Sustainability touches on everything you do. Alongside any dedicated sustainability lead or team, you need management buy-in, and representatives from different parts of your business. In fact, try to find ways to bring all employees and other stakeholders into the discussion (more on this below!). 
 
Your goals should be measurable, have a time frame, and align with a broader sustainability framework, like the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Make them specific, achievable – but also aspirational. Your brand's all about sustainability, after all! As a business or non-profit, it’s not just your products and services that matter. You should be doing everything to limit your impact everywhere – and to create positive value, wherever you can.  
 
Common goals include reducing carbon emissions, waste, or water. But listing goals is meaningless, without a clear roadmap explaining how you plan to reach them within the timeframe you've set out. For example – will you be investing in renewable energy, or better recycling? Do you have a strategy to hone in on specific parts of your supply chain? 
 
It's essential to make yourself publicly accountable to your sustainability goals. This is also a good place to explain how you communicate your sustainability action to all stakeholders – bringing us to…. 

Number Six: Stakeholder Engagement 

A sustainability statement is your place to explain how you engage your customers, employees, suppliers and the communities impacted by your brand. What partnerships, initiatives or outreach do you use? What other things are you planning for the future? To make this exercise truly meaningful, request feedback from these stakeholders – particularly employees and customers. Ask them what they think of your current engagement, and how you’re doing on sustainability. Once you've gathered this feedback you can start actioning it, and describe how you're doing this in the sustainability statement. Engaging with stakeholders is one of the ways you can instantly show everyone this statement is more than words. 

Number Six: A Call to Action 

As a sustainable brand, you can maximise your impact by building a community and inspiring action from all stakeholders. From buying your sustainable products, to joining your initiatives, to taking part in social media campaigns. Your sustainability statement is a great place to reinforce your broader marketing strategy! 

Number Seven: A Life of its Own 

Your sustainability statement is a live document. Every claim you make can’t just be true when you wrote it – your statement needs to reviewed and updated regularly. A painstakingly updated sustainability statement makes people feel they can safely rely on its contents.  
 
It also helps you draw attention to your achievements and to address issues as soon as they arise. Are you on-track to meet your goals? Here's your chance shout about it. When things haven't gone to plan (as sometimes they don't...) then speak to this directly in your statement. Explain what went wrong, what you've learnt and what you're going to do about it. 
 
And then there are times when your goals just have to change. New laws, scientific discoveries, unexpected events – by diarising regular reviews of your statement and policies, you can get ahead this and act immediately. 
 
In this way, you're reaffirming your commitment to employees and customers . It also ensures your sustainability statement is more than just public relations – it's a thing to guide you and drive you forwards.  
 

Still Can't Quite Put Pen to Paper? 

I love helping ethical brands craft sustainability statements that perfectly reflect their work and tvalues. I'm also always happy to chat and give a few pointers on how to get started! Get in touch today to book your free consultation call! :-) 
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