Future View of Sustainability in Business
by Melisa Baez & Sarah Payne, CEO & CFO at ELUME
How is sustainability going to play more of an important role in the future of businesses in Lancaster County?
When we look to the future of Lancaster County, we see a landscape dotted with vibrant businesses committed to the journey of sustainability. At ELUME, we believe wholeheartedly that sustainability is the future, but in order for it to be so, the sustainable business movement must be inclusive, equitable, and accessible.
We created ELUME to equip a diversity of entrepreneurs with tools to make sustainability simple and integral to their business. We envision a world in which all businesses play a role in building a regenerative economy. We launched ELUME with a sleek sustainable stone paper notebook, designed to inspire and encourage entrepreneurs to get all their world-changing ideas down on paper. To enhance the practice of journaling, we offer writing prompts to inspire a sustainable mindset and practice. But this is just the beginning: we are also building our business to provide leadership development, sustainability strategy, and compelling narrative creation to advance businesses led by people who look like us and on a mission to transform our world.
Sustainability does not stand alone. In order to become inclusive, equitable, and accessible as we envision, we must enhance the ecosystem by strengthening the connection and commitment to social justice and advocacy.
And we at ELUME are not alone in this vision. There are many examples of women- and BIPOC-owned enterprises whose very business models are designed to make sustainability something everyone can access. As one example, Lancaster’s own Hawa Lassanah, launched multiple businesses under the nonprofit umbrella Discerning Eye Community Agriculture (DECA). DECA City Farms is an urban agriculture venture that exists to support local neighborhoods to grow their own food, and DECA City Provisions is Hawa’s branded food line.
When Hawa looks to the future of the sustainable business movement in Lancaster County, she says, “The key is innovation. We’ve been dealing with these issues for a long time, and as a community, we’ve made a lot of gains to bridge the gap between sustainability and equity. Moving forward, part of the key is to continue to suspend our disbelief, to give a bit more leeway to brand new ideas, frameworks, and formulas because we’re inviting new people to the table.” Hawa emphasizes that for her business to succeed, access to opportunity and resources was essential. “There are so many folks who want to help and have great ideas, but it is about getting them to the table.”
As a county, the potential to make Pennsylvania the most thriving sustainable economy is at our reach. We are living in an era in which the impacts of climate change, soaring inequity, and polarizing political climate are pushing us to embrace new innovative solutions to enhance our livelihood. Change is possible if we continue to strengthen bridges between leaders, such as Hawa, and provide roadmaps for all entrepreneurs to have the opportunity and resources to launch sustainable businesses. This means social justice and equity must be centered in the sustainability movement. It also means that we must be willing to advocate for the future we want to create.
Melisa Baez, CEO of ELUME
Sarah Payne, CFO of ELUME
This article was first printed in our December 2022 Edition of Thriving Magazine. You can read more here: Lancaster Chamber Thriving Magazine