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- Interview

No more greenwashing!

Sustainable corporate communication or sustainability – just buzzwords that everybody is free to interpret as they see fit? A sign of a green conscience or a calculated marketing strategy? Sustainability – a niche in our economic system or the shape of the future? Certainly a large part of the population views it as the latter. Greenwashing just won´t wash any more! Here we have an interview with someone who practises what she preaches: Astrid Pfannenstiel set out very early on course for sustainability.

Astrid, you have an interesting background. What have been the key stages for you and what are you working on at the moment?

Even my course at university – I did International Business Administration – took place in four different countries. Once, I moved from Holland to Copenhagen within just a week. I finished my studies at a university in Korea where 80% of the students are male. When I came back to my home city of Munich in 2008, I worked first in a corporate consultancy on projects in the field of climate protection and e-mobility. At that time only the initiated were really interested in e-mobility. After that I moved to the Munich transport company, MVG, and from there to a start-up in renewable energy. And in recent years I was a manager in two companies. Currently I am working on the launch of »Lovis München«, my newly founded brand for plastic-free natural cosmetics.

What prompted you to start your own business?

I developed this line of cosmetics initially for myself because I couldn´t find anything on the market that met my requirements in terms of eco-friendliness and product efficacy. I have very long hair that needs a lot of looking after. And I have an adverse reaction to certain ingredients used in conventional cosmetics. My products went down so well with my friends that I turned the whole thing into a business idea.

How do you define sustainable corporate communication?

Sustainability is often equated with ecology, but that is only about one third of the story. It also covers the economic and social side. That´s why sustainable corporate communication was originally a tool for the stock markets. It was a way of presenting to analysts how stable a company was and how well it conformed to the regulatory requirements. Sustainable communication is about highlighting all that is meaningful and oriented towards the future of the company and society. Taking the example of MVG, the public transport company: It is not just about reducing the emissions of the vehicle fleet, it´s also about making a contribution to strengthening the city of Munich as a business location, offering people a stable workplace and designing barrier-free transport for people with a handicap. Sustainable corporate communication makes that transparent for all – towards the outside but also towards the inside of a company. As such sustainable corporate communication is also a tool for satisfied employees and business partners.


Looking into the future, do you believe sustainability will bring about changes in the economic system or will it remain a niche?

I think that the need for a sustainable economy is now firmly established in the heart of society. Citizens and consumers are way ahead of politicians and businesses in their demands for greater sustainability. Politics has seriously underestimated the dynamism and vehemence of the citizens. For the first time we are feeling the effects of economic growth that does not consider tomorrow: climate change, wars waged for resources and reports of the damage caused by our excessive consumption. That is forcing us to live and run our economy in a more sustainable way. We have no other option.


The interview was conducted by Katja Knahn, and first published in novum 05.20. This issue has a focus on »sustainability« and presents a range of articles dealing with sustainability and design