Infographic: The state of sustainability in business 2021

February 22, 2023

What’s top of mind for companies.

The state of sustainability in 2021 is fraught with countless business challenges—navigating travel and supply chain issues and the shift to a hybrid workforce during the coronavirus pandemic, to name just a couple. There’s also mounting pressure on CEOs and company leaders to have a sustainability plan on top of complex corporate social responsibility (CSR), corporate governance, and ESG (environmental, social, and governance) considerations. Stakeholders—including customers, employees, and shareholders—also expect reports around corporate sustainability efforts.

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Thanks to Sustain.Life’s beta customers, in this infographic we shed additional light on the state of sustainability today—what’s top of mind for companies concerned with environmental sustainability, and the ways they strive to build more sustainable businesses.

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Key drivers of sustainability

Pie chart showing who are the key drivers of sustainability in business

Our beta customers shared that company leaders push for full-scale sustainability programs, with customers and employees also throwing their weight behind the need to drive positive environmental impact.

Who needs sustainability software the most

Bar graph showing who needs sustainability software the most

Because sustainability is a priority with business leaders, it’s no surprise that they’re the largest cohort looking for an end-to-end sustainability platform—like Sustain.Life—to drive their ESG strategies and solve wide-ranging environmental issues.

Most popular sustainability topics

Chart showing the most popular sustainability topics: business strategy, energy and emissions, waste, travel, product footprint, software, smart workplace, climate risk, office supplies, water, and remote work

We’ve entered an era where sustainability is business-critical. Sustain.Life Actions tied to business strategy—which include step-by-step guidance for things like training staff in sustainability topics, publishing sustainability reports, creating a green team, and measuring a project’s environmental impact—are among the most popular on the platform.

Typical things businesses tackle before formalizing their sustainability program

  • Sustainability mission statement
  • Virtual meeting policies
  • Paper printing policies
  • Recycling programs
  • Purchasing renewable energy
  • Eliminating cans and bottles
  • Waste bins
  • Properly disposing of hazardous waste
  • Recyclable or compostable serviceware
  • Single-use coffee pods

When it comes to sustainability, companies tend to first focus on low-hanging fruit, or what’s most visible company-wide. Usually, that means stuff tied to recycling and waste in the office. And while just about any sustainable practices you put in place to move the needle on your environmental impact are great, it’s also essential to consider where you can exert the most influence. Sustain.Life helps you determine that sweet spot—where you can make the biggest impact both on your business practices and climate change.

Where businesses begin their sustainability journey

Here are the top Actions—which are what we call our step-by-step guides—that our beta customers have added to their sustainability roadmaps. We recommend a healthy balance of quick wins and long-term strategic initiatives.


  • Create work from home policy
  • Create a recycling program
  • Create a sustainability mission statement or vision
  • Create a virtual meeting policy
  • Reduce printing


Do employees still travel for work?

Bar chart showing that workers still travel for business

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, business travel is still fairly popular. Did you know that for most individuals, work-related travel is their most significant source of carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions? Sustain.Life helps you calculate your commuting and business travel emissions, then highlights those metrics and suggests ways to help mitigate emissions-creating behaviors.

Workforce breakdown

Bar chart showing the breakdown between how many people work from home, go into the office, or use a hybrid approach

The coronavirus pandemic has created stark shifts, notably in work-from-home (WFH) behavior. Almost a quarter—24% to be exact—of Sustain.Life beta customers also told us that their organizations don’t have a physical location, a trend that’s likely to continue. (Sustain.Life launched in 2021 and is an entirely remote company.)

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Editorial statement
At Sustain.Life, our goal is to provide the most up-to-date, objective, and research-based information to help readers make informed decisions. Written by practitioners and experts, articles are grounded in research and experience-based practices. All information has been fact-checked and reviewed by our team of sustainability professionals to ensure content is accurate and aligns with current industry standards. Articles contain trusted third-party sources that are either directly linked to the text or listed at the bottom to take readers directly to the source.
Sustain.Life Team
Sustain.Life’s teams of sustainability practitioners and experts often collaborate on articles, videos, and other content.
Alyssa Rade
Alyssa Rade is the chief sustainability officer at Sustain.Life. She has over ten years of corporate sustainability experience and guides Sustain.Life’s platform features.