A recent report has revealed more than 75 percent of our land areas are in a sorry state, causing significant problems for over 3.2 billion people.
Worse, the report details that the degradation is likely to continue—95 percent of the Earth’s land areas will likely be degraded by 2050.
Thankfully, through regenerative sustainability initiatives, we can create a world where environmental degradation and the problems that come with it are not just halted but reversed.
What Is Regenerative Sustainability?
Put briefly, regenerative sustainability goes beyond simply preventing further damage caused by human activity; it not only strives to remediation it but also ensures any future environmental degradation is avoided.
Incredible. But how so?
This is achieved through the three key pillars of regenerative sustainability:
- Planet. The health of our planet is crucially important, which is why we need regenerative actions that address a wide range of environmental issues. This goes beyond reducing carbon emissions—a worthwhile endeavor in its own right—and includes initiatives like water conservation, supporting biodiversity, and transitioning to a circular economy.
- People. Social and environmental justice are two peas in a pod. If we want to make a real impact, we’ve got to take a regenerative approach to sustainability and address systemic inequalities alongside the climate crisis. That’s why regenerative sustainability encompasses practices that create a more just and equitable world for all of us.
- Governance. It’s crucial to integrate sustainability management into economic-financial functions by promoting transparency, efficiency, and integrity. This ensures regenerative sustainability is a core part of the decision-making process, not an afterthought or greenwashing tactic.
Not sure what greenwashing is? Turn to our solutions to greenwashing guide to learn more.
What Is The Difference Between Sustainable and Regenerative?
Sustainability is focused on simply reducing human activities’ harm to the planet. Regenerative sustainability, on the other hand, goes beyond reducing harm and actively seeks to restore and revitalize natural systems through innovative and restorative practices.
So what does this look like in practice?
Regenerative practices involve shifting from “doing less bad”—as traditional sustainability aims for—to “doing more good” by restoring ecosystems and biodiversity in the process. This means engaging in restorative practices like soil regeneration, halting and then supporting diminishing biodiversity, and embracing energy-efficient building designs that consider factors such as water runoff and air quality.
Let’s dig deeper into what the benefits of “doing less bad” and “doing more good” are.
Benefits of regenerative sustainability
As we continue to unravel the dire consequences of unsustainable manufacturing practices like the continued production of virgin plastics and the combustion of fossil fuels on a global scale, the advantages of regenerative sustainability are becoming crystal clear.
On a conservational front, regenerative sustainability benefits include:
- reducing deforestation,
- improving nutrient management,
- improving water and air quality,
- enhancing ecosystems,
- and actively restoring habitat.
But that’s not all, my friend. There’s also the benefit to human health. Regenerative sustainability has human health benefits, such as:
- producing nutrient-dense food,
- reducing harmful emissions,
- improving crop resilience,
- and providing a systemic solution with benefits for human health, animal welfare, the environment, and the economy.
That means there are benefits to your business’s bottom line as well.
So how can we make the transition from conventional practices to regenerative ones?
Let’s explore this now.
Before we do that—why not check out what carbon emissions analytics are?
The Move Towards Regenerative Agriculture & Regenerative Environmental Design
Conventional agricultural practices are no longer sustainable. With modern demands, they are inefficient and, as a result, are contributing significantly to habitat destruction. The agricultural industry also contributes to climate change, emitting considerable amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases such as methane.
Unfortunately, it gets worse.
Farming practices such as deforestation, excessive tillage, and the use of chemical fertilizers lead to environmental degradation. These deleterious effects are compounded by the lack of biodiversity in many modern farming systems, which increases the risk of disease transmission and crop failures.
Okay. That’s the bad news. How about some good news?
Regenerative agriculture and environmental design are two powerful tools in the fight against climate change and environmental degradation.
Regenerative agriculture is an agricultural system or set of practices that seek to restore degraded soils (a problem that costs the US economy $8billion a year), improve fertility, and increase biodiversity while also sequestering atmospheric carbon.
Recent research by the Rodale Institute suggests that switching to regenerative farming practices could sequester 100 percent of annual CO2 emissions. This would involve regenerative agricultural strategies incorporating cover crops, conservation tillage, rotational grazing, composting, agroforestry, and organic fertilizers.
Truly impressive stuff.
Further findings suggest that if all global pastures used for raising livestock switched to a regenerative model, 71 percent of produced greenhouse gasses (GHGs), some 37 GtCO2, could be sequestered.
And the role of regenerative environmental design?
Like regenerative agriculture, regenerative environmental design goes beyond just being sustainable; it aims to create green spaces that actively enhance and promote the well-being of the surrounding ecosystem.
Together, these approaches offer a powerful solution for reducing the impact of human activity on the environment and work to achieve a more sustainable future.
Discover carbon offset benefits with this helpful guide.
Is Regenerative Farming Sustainable?
Yes, regenerative farming is sustainable. It prioritizes soil health, biodiversity, and reduces synthetic inputs such as fertilizers and pesticides, which mitigate climate change and environmental degradation. Regenerative farming also emphasizes using natural and renewable resources, reducing reliance on synthetic and non-renewable inputs.
Does Regenerative Agriculture Really Work?
Sure, there are some creases to iron out. But regenerative agriculture has shown promising results in improving soil health, increasing biodiversity, reducing erosion, and improving water quality.
The proof in the pudding.
Many farmers and agricultural organizations have already adopted regenerative practices and seen promising results. What’s more, as the discipline matures, further research is conducted, and practices improve, the potential benefits of regenerative agriculture are only expected to grow. And with the right support and investment, regenerative agriculture has the potential to revolutionize the farming industry and lead the way toward a more sustainable and resilient future.
Another way to achieve a sustainable future? By embracing sustainable ecommerce practices—learn more here.
The Move Towards Regenerative Design & Regenerative Approaches to Sustainability
Like the agricultural sector, traditional construction practices are also responsible for significant environmental degradation. It is linked to several environmental issues, such as air and water pollution caused by harmful chemicals used during construction, and is responsible for 39% of energy and process-related carbon dioxide emissions.
Thankfully, regenerative design principles offer a solution to many of these issues.
By mimicking natural systems and processes in the built environment—human-made structures and facilities where people live and work—regenerative design enhances resource efficiency, reduces waste, and increases resiliency to climate change impacts. For example, green roofs and bioswales reduce pollution runoff in urban areas while using recycled and sustainable building materials to reduce waste and limit the impact on natural habitats.
Regenerative design also encourages the use of renewable energy sources, such as wind power and solar, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The concept of regenerative design also includes using eco-friendly building materials and designing buildings and structures to minimize their impact on the environment and maximize their contribution to natural systems. This can include using sustainable, non-toxic, and locally sourced materials and designing energy-efficient structures incorporating features like rainwater harvesting systems.
Carbon and GHG emissions can be offset. Learn more here—carbon offsets market.
Common challenges faced in implementing regenerative design principles
Implementing regenerative design principles comes with some challenges, such as:
- Resistance to change. Many established businesses and organizations may resist change and hesitate to embrace regenerative design practices.
- Cost. Some regenerative design practices require an upfront investment, which can be a barrier for some businesses and organizations.
- Lack of awareness. Many people may not be aware of the principles of regenerative design and the benefits that it can bring.
- Limited availability of skilled professionals. There may be a limited number of professionals with the necessary skills and expertise to implement regenerative design principles.
- Local regulations and building codes. Some local regulations and building codes may not be conducive to implementing regenerative design practices, which can create barriers to adoption.
Opportunities for growth and innovation through regenerative design strategies
As we’ve seen, regenerative design is all about using nature’s systems and processes to design buildings and infrastructure that use resources efficiently, produce less waste, and are better equipped to handle the challenges of climate change. In fact, it has been found that co-building a carbon-negative regenerative economy could unlock up to $26 trillion in financial value and create over 65 million new green jobs globally by 2030.
This presents your business with tremendous growth opportunities—26 trillion of them, to be exact.
Another area that presents your business with growth opportunities? The carbon market. Learn more here—carbon credits vs carbon offsets.
Is Regeneration Better Than Sustainability?
There’s not much room for argument. Regenerative practices are superior to sustainable practices. Because, as we’ve discussed, simply limiting or halting the damage we cause is no longer enough.
We can’t just maintain, we must also regenerate our agriculture and wild places if we want our children to enjoy the same standard of living we often take for granted today.
This isn’t just a hunch. This aligns with the science, consumer sentiment, and subsequent purchasing decisions. Research shows nearly 80 percent of US consumers prefer “regenerative” brands over “sustainable” ones.
The research shows consumers find the term “sustainable” too passive. They want to see action.
This demonstrates that it’s not just the scientists and farmers that want to see action; consumers most definitely do too.
Steps for adopting a regenerative mindset
A regenerative mindset is vital to implementing green initiatives. Here are some tips on doing so:
- Educate yourself. Many resources, such as books, articles, and online courses, will help you understand the concepts and how they can be applied in your industry.
- Assess your current practices. Take a critical look at your business operations and assess their sustainability. Identify areas where you can make improvements and implement regenerative practices.
- Collaborate with like-minded organizations. Partner with other businesses and organizations that share your values and work towards regenerative sustainability.
- Experiment and iterate. Try out new regenerative practices and be willing to adapt and improve them over time. Embrace a culture of experimentation and learning.
- Measure and track progress. Set goals and metrics to measure the impact of your regenerative practices. Use this data to identify areas for improvement and celebrate successes.
Best practices for regenerative sustainability in various industries
No matter the industry or niche your business falls under, it’s time to start making a difference with these impactful regenerative sustainability practices:
- Sustainable materials and waste. Look for ways to use environmentally friendly materials and minimize product manufacturing and packaging waste.
- Energy use. Consider implementing energy-saving practices like turning off equipment when not in use, using natural light whenever possible, and investing in renewable energy sources.
- Circular economy. Embrace a circular economy model emphasizing product reuse, recycling, and composting.
- Sustainable suppliers. Collaborate with suppliers who prioritize sustainability and ethical practices.
- Employees and customers. Spread awareness and education about sustainability initiatives within your business, including how your employees and customers can contribute.
The role of technology in regenerative sustainability
From precision farming and smart irrigation systems to energy-efficient buildings and renewable energy sources, technology has opened up numerous opportunities for businesses and individuals looking to adopt sustainable operations. And like many industries, budding tech like artificial intelligence is set to revolutionize supply chain management, bringing transparency and accountability to sustainability endeavors.
Challenges and Opportunities for Regenerative Sustainability
Let’s address some of the common obstacles businesses may face when transitioning to more sustainable practices, as well as opportunities for growth and innovation.
Common challenges faced in implementing regenerative sustainability
Here are some common challenges small- to mid-sized businesses will likely face when implementing regenerative sustainability practices:
- Limited resources and budget constraints.
- Lack of knowledge or expertise in regenerative sustainability practices.
- Resistance to change from traditional practices and processes.
- Challenges in measuring and communicating the impact of regenerative sustainability efforts to stakeholders.
Mitigate these challenges with the right framework. Check out our guide on sustainability vs. CSR vs. ESG.
The Role of Community and Collaboration in Overcoming Challenges
Fortunately, the challenges listed above are solvable and are overcome through community and collaboration. At the local level, individuals can work together to implement sustainable practices, and businesses can partner with each other to promote green initiatives and achieve carbon neutrality.
Discover how carbon neutral shipping will help your business reach carbon neutrality—check out our helpful guide.
Opportunities for growth and innovation through regenerative sustainability
As consumer demand for eco-friendly and socially responsible products and services continues to grow, businesses have a unique opportunity to attract more customers and positively impact the environment. Here are some key benefits of creating sustainable solutions:
- Attracting customers who are increasingly environmentally conscious.
- Differentiating from competitors and building a strong brand reputation as a responsible and sustainable business.
- Reducing operating costs through increased efficiency and resource conservation measures.
- Meeting and exceeding regulatory requirements related to sustainability can open up new markets and opportunities.
- Contributing to a more sustainable and resilient future for communities and the planet as a whole.
As we work towards a more sustainable future through initiatives like regenerative sustainability, it’s essential to recognize that every industry has a strong role to play.