It’s Time to Walk the Sustainability Walk
It has been reported by Business Insider this week that the global population’s demand exceeds the amount of resources that Earth can produce for the year. It is thought to be 70% faster that what can be renewed – meaning we need 1.7 Earths to accommodate our consumption level.
This got me thinking. We spend our working lives helping our customers to find creative and cost-effective ways to make their businesses more sustainable. But if we are honest, what we’ve not been so good at, is realising that we too have this responsibility.
We’ve recently just added a Renault ZOE to our fleet of company cars. Okay, I appreciate that this may not seem like earth-shattering news, so thank you if you’ve carried on reading. In terms of signalling the intent of our company however, I believe it is something quite significant. For those of you that don’t watch Top Gear, the Renault ZOE is a fully electric car that utilises the latest technology to create engines with only one moving piece; the rotor. As a result, the car does not compromise on power or performance whilst operating without producing any CO2 emissions.
The addition of the ZOE to our fleet is perhaps one of the more obvious signs that we are now starting to practise what we preach and take our own environmental performance more seriously.
Our drive towards becoming an ever more sustainable business isn’t limited to the cars we drive. We have already taken a number of other steps to improve our performance. One of the most significant, is the appointment of Nathan Gray to the role of Head of Sustainability. Nathan is going to set and manage our sustainability strategy to ensure that we realise the environmental and commercial benefits of becoming the most sustainable business we possibly can.
We haven’t been standing still waiting for a strategy however. We have been working on a number of other initiatives, some of which people will be aware of and others that may have gone unnoticed. We kitted out a new meeting space with desks made from cardboard and introduced a recycling station for the office made from the same material. The material is both 100% recycled and 100% recyclable when it comes to the end of its life. The process of upcycling card into furniture creates a high value, long lasting product. With the only additives being vegetable starch and water based glues, it has a significantly lower environmental impact than that of conventional office furniture.
Coffee drinkers will have noticed the new coffee machine in the kitchen. This will hopefully reduce the amount of takeaway coffee cups we use and the fact that it uses beans means that we are not generating any plastic waste from using coffee pods. Just to really minimise the impact of our coffee addition, we are even sending the used coffee grinds to local allotments to be used as a soil improver! Staying in the kitchen, our mugs are starting to get chipped and need replacing. It turns out ceramic mugs aren’t that easy to recycle, who’d have known?! So we are looking at some alternative options made from materials that are more easily recyclable.
We’d love a fully paperless office but we realise it’s going to be a journey to get there. We recycle our paper and use recycled paper and plant-based inks for our marketing materials but nonetheless our business uses on average a whole tree’s worth of paper every month. Not massive you may say, but when you also consider the other carbon hungry areas of the business (which we do neutralise through a scheme where around 3,000 trees a year are planted), it all adds up. We will soon be launching an internal competition to get people thinking about how much of their printing is necessary and hopefully bring our usage down.
Going forward, we recognise that pushing our limits and being prepared to develop new initiatives will bring numerous benefits to us as a business. It will undoubtedly help reduce costs but more importantly it will help us develop new service offerings that we can take to our customers and help them implement in their businesses. Being seen as an innovator and a business that practises what it preaches, will also help build an important new dimension to our brand and further differentiate us from our competitors in the market.