Embracing SDGs into Product Development: Coffee Dyed Pajamas
SDGs, short for “Sustainable Development Goals”, were adopted by the United Nations in 2015 to further promote sustainable development. Before understanding the specifics of the goals of SDGs, it is important to understand the concept of sustainable development. Tracing back to the 1960s and 1970s, conversations and dialogues about development and conservation began to forge (Pisani, 2007). In particular, ecological crises have caused the society to question the concepts of “progress” and “development” (Pisani, 2007). The discussions reached a pivotal point in 1987, when the concept of sustainable development is proposed as a solution to the existing issues of the society (Pisani, 2007). Finally, in 2012, the SDGs were introduced to the world at an UN conference.
While the SDGs serve as a guideline for individuals, communities, and organizations to challenge and revise their conventional and traditional ways, the SDGs do not defy the importance of business development and economic growth. Instead the SDGs encourages business owners to incorporate considerations for the societies` future and for the planet`s future. One of the biggest challenges businesses encounter today is to keep SDGs in mind while developing their new products. Conventional business practices were established upon the foundation of generating profit as their core goal. Though the SDGs do not reject the importance of capital success, it calls for businesses to be considerate of their practices in multilayer aspects that hold up the challenges of time.
As a company that was established about 100 years ago, our firsthand experience agrees with the saying “innovation is the key to longevity”. It was only natural for us to begin embracing the SDGs guidelines into our business module. With the increasing importance of SDGs in business modules, we held the guidelines in mind, and began our product development for our new product. We would like to share our experience of combining SDGs into our product development process.
As a start, we decided to incorporate ecological elements into one of our best selling products, our cotton gauze pajamas. Though we started with something small, every sturdy tree started out as a tiny seed. As a result of our first attempt in creating a product that accommodates SDGs, we have decided to utilize materials that are presumed to be useless. While most people are aware of the great ability of coffee that keeps the mind awake, only a few people know that the grinded beans create a beautiful shade of brown when used as a dye. Different from the common coffee stain that brings people headaches, the shade of brown created from the grounded coffee appears to be more calm and stable. A slight undertone of sage seeps through the fibers of the cotton gauze like roots of a tree planting into the soil. In combination of the calming color and the comfortable cotton gauze, these pajamas resembles a mother`s warm embrace. Coincidentally, this product that is friendly to our Mother Earth was first launched on our mother`s day promotion. As of now, this product is only available for our domestic market in Japan.
At the current time point, it is hard to determine if this product is a success or not. However, this product holds important significance within our line of products. Though within our business practice, we have always strived to be a caring company that reciprocates back to society, the coffee-dyed pajamas represent our initial step into embracing the SDGs.
The incorporation of SDGs in product development is not only limited to bringing ecological elements into the product. Creating products that are durable with good quality allows the customers to use them for a longer time. In a sense, the durability of a product can be seen as the efforts of buying time for Mother Earth to regenerate her health. In a sense, SDGs is not merely a set of goals, it is an attitude. It is a new way to challenge the set assumptions of the world, and pushes the society to reach for innovation. The journey to establishing a sustainable regime is a long journey, however, without the first step there will be no path.
Pisani, J. A.D. (2007). Sustainable Development – Historical Roots of the Concept. Environmental Science, 3:2, pp. 83-96. DOI: 10.1080/15693430600688831