Sustainable development for an SME – how to get going?

The state of our planet and actions needed are widely discussed and many individuals and companies are taking initiative to help fight for our planet and future. Sustainable development as such and as a tool for helping you make your company more future proof by renewing sustainably can still seem to daunt or out of place in your everyday life. Or is it so that you find a way to implement sustainability in your private life but find it difficult to link it to your business environment? 

Image 1. Are you still looking for your light bulb moment when it comes to sustainable development? Games can help you achieve it (Alexas_Fotos 2020)

If you are intrigued but find it difficult to get started, using gamification could be your thing. You can gather information and spark discussion within your organization by utilizing online tools (Google 2019). This text introduces one option to try out and there are also more advanced tools to help you along if you catch the bug (SDSN Secretariat 2015).

Learning by playing

At Feeniks – renew sustainably -project (ESF) we work with SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and micro companies operating on the service sector (hospitality, wellness) in the South Karelia and Päijät-Häme -regions. We make sustainability better known and help companies find ways to turn the ideas into tools for doing their business more in tune with nature and also more resilient. To help boost learning and offer companies, actors in area development, students and others interested in the subject a chance to collaborate, we co-hosted an online event Ecology is Economy 27.4.2021 with a group of LAB University of Appliances international students.

The student team was asked to help guide participants out of the box, and they did so by introducing the participants into a sustainable development online game: Your Plan. Your planet. designed to raise awareness. The game is available online, so can be used in many ways by different target groups. Even though the game is targeted at individuals, as Mari Sarvaala, sustainable development specialist at Feeniks – renew sustainably -project pointed out in her presentation at the event: “The wants, needs, ways and means of micro-companies and smaller SMEs are often very similar to those of individuals.”

The gaming experience was positive. An easy to use, fact-filled game is a good introduction to sustainability for different types of situations and organizations. It also helps raise the questions of why and how sustainability is linked to your business and can facilitate the process of building sustainability into your business.  For instance: excess clothing is a huge global issue. You have a local restaurant in need of business – how could these dots connect? Could you set up a monthly swap meet where customers come to exchange their unused items with like-minded people and enjoy a meal or show making it an evening out and something to look forward to as well as a wardrobe update with a difference?

The possibilities are endless so let the sustainability games begin!


Annukka Heinonen, Master of Business Administration, works as an RDI-specialist at LAB University of Applied Sciences, and as a project manager in the ESF-project: Feeniks – Renew Sustainably. Visit the project website for more information.


Google. 2019. Interactive tool shows how small changes can make a big impact. Website. [Cited on 30 th April 2021.] Available at:

Google, California Academy of Sciences & Ellen MacArthur Foundation 2018. Your plan, Your planet. Online game. [Cited on 29 th April 2021.] Available at:

SDSN Secretariat. 2015. Why a guide for getting started? Website. [Cited on 30th April 2021.] Available at:


Image 1. Alexas_Fotos 2020. Alexas_Fotos. 2020. Hehkulamppu-energia-luonto-5259340. Pixabay. [Cited on 30 th April 2021.] Available at: