A sustainable 2022: it’s within our grasp

  • Some of Sri Lanka’s sustainable business leaders on their hopes for 2022

 2021 was a rollercoaster of a year, and 20202is also set to give us the ride of our lives.but amidst the stress and drama of 2021 there was also good in that 2021 in that we were able to reflect better on our choices and the impact of our choices. Sustainable living and sustainable business took on something of a spotlight in 2020 and 2021, not only were we seeing the beginnings of scarcity, being stuck at home made us think more about just what we were buying, how we were disposing of it, and if we could be doing better. Now, going into our third year of the pandemic, what can sustainable businesses expect from 2022? Brunch spoke to a couple of well-known sustainable businesses to find out.  

An eye-opener for us all: House of Lonali

House of Lonali is something of a pioneer in the sustainable lifestyle. Established in 2011, from its inception, House of Lonali set itself apart by being an environmentally ethical fashion brand in it’s true sense. Celebrating its 10th anniversary last month, House of Lonali has launched an all-new campaign, #GREATLITTLECHOICES, to raise awareness on the importance of making lifestyle choices that are good for both people and the planet, and how that aligns with their vision to design a better future, as they reposition themselves as the country’s premier sustainable lifestyle brand to take on the future responsibly 

Lonali Rodrigo

Reflecting on 2021, House of Lonali Founder Lonali Rodrigo said, “ 2021 was an eye opener for all of us. Lockdown + Covid got us used to a new life and got us to understand and value what we have and get used to recycling, upcycling and investing in long-lasting products. It especially got us to understand how important it is to preserve what we have and our planet, how we need to live, and how to be more conscious.” 

With her eye on 2022, Rodrigo shared that House of Lonali is pursuing a bold new vision, starting with its most recent campaign #GREATLITTLECHOICES. “We are invested in designing a better future and in doing our part. We’re choosing wisely when we design and when we create products for our customers. Equally, we want consumers to be conscious as well and to choose wisely so we can do this together. Our hope for 2022 is that consumers will make small steps and purchase local, sustainable goods and get used to the sustainable lifestyle, which is what is required in 2022. We need to change and really need to change right now.” 

Sri Lankans are a lot more open to online platforms: Sustainableeyours

Dinushika Gunaratne, Founder of sustainable lifestyle brand Sustainablee noted that 2021 was a tough year, but still one that Sustainablee and its suppliers were able to pull through by coming together. 

Dinushika Gunaratne

Sustainablee is a Sri Lankan e-commerce lifestyle brand that advocates sustainable living and aspires to influence its customers, suppliers and community to adopt a greener way of life through a carefully curated range of sustainable products that prioritize the environment and our planet. A social enterprise that works with local craftspeople and artisans, most of Sustainablee’s suppliers are small and micro home-based businesses. 

“What I think kept us going was that we ha to figure out how to our products and get people to understand the benefits of buying Sustainablee products, Gunaratne said, “we also had to limit ourselves to crucial expense and make sure we were focused only on spending what was necessary.” Fortunately, Sustainablee had already built a brand presence for itself within the sustainable lifestyle market which put them in a better position to be able to engage with customers. One of Gunaratne’s main priorities for 2021 was keeping her suppliers employed and she had pre-pandemic without reducing the volumes of products she ordered as this was crucial income for many of these small businesses. 

Looking to 2022, Gunaratne shared that she has every hope that the sustainable lifestyle market will continue to grow. As a brand that sells online and through partner retailers only, Gunaratne explained that the shift in buying habits in Sri Lanka over 2020and 2021 has made it easier for Sustainablee to engage with customers. “Sri Lankans are a lot more open to online platforms, which has made it easier for businesses like ours. This year, Sustainablee hopes to expand, adding more products into our range and also branch into the export market and takeout locally-sourced hand-made products to other countries, Gunaratne said, adding that consumers have also begun asking questions like where and how what they’re buying is made and looking to products that are sustainably made,which is also very encouraging for 2022. 

Good Market

Good Market, the much-loved curated community of social enterprises, cooperatives, responsible businesses, voluntary initiatives, networks, and changemakers who have been driving sustainability and responsibility since 2012, is also looking to 2022 with hopes of being bigger, better and making more of a positive impact on people and the planet. 

Achala Samaradivakara

Good Market Co-Founder Achala Samaradivakara shared that 2021 was indeed a very challenging year as was 2020 before it with many of the Good Market’s startup community dealing with a variety of obstacles from disrupted supply chains to import restrictions. “At the end of 2020, there were lots of discussions within our community on how to come up with alternatives to keep our businesses running smoothly, and 2021 was a year of many learnings for us as well.” 

With 2022 now upon us, Samaradivakara shared that theGood Market hopes to expand on their work. “Many small businesses are realising that there are many opportunities coming up with import restrictions , and entrepreneurs can play a bigger role going forward. Good Market itself is trying to expand (we’re currently based mainly in the Western Province only)  into other districts and work with more and more communities, and even connect dots in supply chains by working with different communities from different parts of the island. For example, you may have one community in one area who have very good packaging solutions, and another community in another area doing spices and in need of packaging. We want to build win-win situations for parties all around the island. We also have some other solutions we’re working on and are also hoping to get our vendors more involved and doing more.” 

Samaradivakara also spoke about 2022 being a year of adaptation, noting that the last two years have been a masterclass in adapting for all businesses and learning to do better. “We are trying to be more good and more green in 2022,” she said, adding that this doesn’t need to be a huge shift but na be as simple as encouraging customers to their Independence Avenue outlet to bring their bottles for drinks, and their own bags and packaging for other products: “We’re trying to excite and educate our customers and educate them to be more responsible. Together, we can do a lot, and together we can create a good and responsible country, and also create good, responsible entrepreneurs. That’s what we’re trying to do this year, to expand our impact.” 

With 2021 having been a learning experience for us all, 2022, form a sustainable viewpoint at least, looks set to be a year of quiet growth and positive impact, something which is sorely needed, for though our country is currently sailing through troubled waters, it needs a safe, sustainable port to land at when it weathers this storm, and through the actions of sustainable businesses, and sustainable consumers, we might just be able to find that.