Prototyping Different Career Paths

By: Agnes Borden

I can’t say that my passion for sustainability came out of nowhere. Growing up in a mid-size, highly environmentally cautious city in Southern Sweden, in combination with having a dad who started discussing climate change with me from an early age, I would say it came pretty naturally. However, I had never been much of a science person. Chemistry, physics and biology just didn’t appeal to me outside of the two designated hours a week I had to study it. So I started to wonder, how would I prepare for a career within a field that seemed so out of reach?

When I started high school I entered the Business and Economy program, which enhanced students’ interest in business and gave them the opportunity to practice the skills they learned both in- and outside the classroom. During our second year, me and my two best friends were given the rare hands-on opportunity to start and run our own young enterprise. After months of dwelling ideas back and forth, we created Willow Wear; a company which produced bedwear made entirely from natural materials. In addition to this, we donated part of our revenues to an organization that contributed to helping underdeveloped African communities through agroforestry and education. In May 2014, after running the business for almost a year, we were awarded as Sweden’s Most Sustainable Young Enterprise.

Founding and running Willow Wear made me realize one main thing; business is the arena with large potential to fight for a sustainable world. Sustainable practices within business is still not the status quo, and companies all over the world often widely engage in outsourcing at the expense of the environment and local population. People are working over-time with a minimum salary for corporations who are constantly polluting their surroundings. Although there have been some improvement over the years, we still have a long way to go.

Since second year of high school, my passion to combine sustainability and business has spurred. I have written papers on Corporate Social Responsibility, engaged in various climate discussions, held and attended lectures on business-related topics on climate change, and reached out to people with a similar passion. I am currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in International Business and Marketing, in combination with a Minor in Sustainability. When I graduate, I will start to use the academic tools and hands-on experiences I have gained, to practice sustainability in business. There is so much to be done in the area of social entrepreneurship, and I can’t wait to be a part of it.