Author Esha Chhabra brings to her book more than a decade of experience of having written about sustainability and innovative solutions for a better future for the planet. Through stories that talk about entrepreneurs who strive to restore sustainability in human action, the book Working to Restore: Why We Do Business in the Regenerative Era provides inspiration to do business more thoughtfully, consciously and equitably.
“It’s hard to ignore the reality that we humans are changing the climate, and we’re adding pollution and waste into the earth’s system daily,” writes Chhabra. “The business community can put us on a different path if we support the type of businesses that prize restoration over growth,” she adds.
According to her, although much of the emphasis around the word “regenerate” is environmental, that is too limiting. “… we also need to regenerate the social aspect of business. Is a simple certification enough to say that a business is actually socially conscious? Probably not,” she avers.
Here is an excerpt from the book:
So can we really build a more sustainable world, given that we’ve been talking about the same issues for the past three decades? Everyone I spoke with for this book was pretty fed up with the word “sustainable.” Sustain what? This imbalance?
Instead, these entrepreneurs want to rewrite the rules of business to focus on transparency, simplicity, compassion, and equity. If these values were upheld and put into action every day, we could begin to restore the balance, ecologically and socially.
Let me be clear: there is no ideal solution. Humans create a foot- print. It is in our nature to desire, lust, and run after what we do not have. Even many of the companies highlighted in this book acknowledge that they’re producing a physical product that has a footprint. But they can do it without the injustices of the modern supply chain, without exploiting populations, without over-extracting resources, without damaging what we need for life itself: the earth.
Addressing the Dilemma
The book touches upon the dilemma of sustainable living: while there are clear solutions in areas like food, energy and fashion, there are other industries like travel, finance, etc. where the vision to build a regenerative economy is not as straightforward, Chhabra observes.
“I do not think we need to be told what is wrong with the world; many of us get to see that every day either through work or simply through life. We need a discussion on solutions. So, I set out to write something that provided a journalistic lens on entrepreneurs building businesses around a problem, not a product, that they wanted to solve,” Chhabra tells Outlook Business, as she speaks about what inspired her to write the book.
An inherent problem of business that she senses is that everyone is excessively focused on scale. “The question that is most often asked of entrepreneurs is: How are you going to scale this? While some scale is necessary to be a financially viable operation, not every company needs to attain massive scale. In fact, it is that growth mindset that often leads to other problems: be it environmental waste and excess, overworked or disconnected employees, and sometimes, a need to please investors,” she elaborates.
Personally too, Chhabra feels the need for everyone to slow down. “There is so much noise in the world. So, I am always seeking out a few moments of calm and quiet, which often comes to me in nature,” she says.
Chhabra plans to continue writing on regenerative businesses, not only showcasing brands that are truly thinking about their impact, but also asking the broader questions in industries such as food and fashion, of how it can be done better. “I hope to continue to humanise these buzzwords,” she says.