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Whether you're looking for a few tips about how your business can create positive outcomes for the environment and your community, or you want to undertake a full audit of your performance; we can help. Earth Matters offers a range of packages to suit every need and budget. Give Richard a call today on 07517 523258
Feedback on our creating the waves of change workshop
What you had to say...
"A real thought-provoking session: we all talk the talk but need to refocus and walk the walk" Kirsty Meadows, JNCC
"Left me with some great ideas for CSR activity" Matt Mitchell, Green Energy Switch
"An informative presentation, inspiring our business...a nudge we needed" James Barber, GEM Bags
Meeting the sustainability challenge
Meeting the sustainability challenge can be daunting. We know that, and it's particularly true for smaller organisations.
Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) have proved slow to adopt sustainability programmes. This is unfortunate, as there are more than 4.5 million SMEs in the UK, making up 99% of all organisations and employing around 14 million people. They generate a combined annual turnover of £1.5 billion, almost half of that created by all UK business.
Many SMEs admit to confusion over what sustainability is and which programme to follow. Put simply, sustainability has got to be made easy!
The heads of SMEs need to know how a sustainability programme is going to:
- deliver operational efficiencies
- open the door to new business
- cost much less money than it generate (or even zero cost)
However, it's vital to think beyond cost-efficiency, to consider sustainability in terms of adding value to the business. This requires a broad view to be taken. Environmental issues are only part of the picture, and it is necessary to think about relationships with and the impact on employees, customers, suppliers, and the broader community. The social dimension is just as important, even though it can feel less tangible.
Investing in community projects can create lasting benefits for local people, engage your employees and enhance your reputation
So, our advice is to:
- define sustainability (be clear what it means to your business)
- get everyone on board (they need to understand what you are doing)
- ask for help (a trade or industry body is good starting point)
- establish responsibility (incorporate sustainability targets into job plans)
- take it step by step (don't try to do everything at once)
- prove that you mean it (you can't just talk about this: you have to actually do things)
- make the link to profit (see tangible benefits through lower fuel bills or reduced waste)
- use a variety of measures (measure progress in less tangible areas, e.g. strength of community trust; greening the supply chain)
- don't stand still (invest in the future, finding ways to create long-term value, e.g. developing new green products or services)
- tell your story (share your journey, be proud of your achievements)
Finding out more
Knowing where to look for information on sustainability and natural capital can be daunting when you're starting out. But don't worry, we've saved you some of the effort because we've pulled together a range of material that we think is helpful and informative. Feel free to browse.
If there's anything you've found particularly useful, or there's something you'd like to know about, please let us know. We're happy to help.
Sustainability for business
Here's a small collection of videos which help simplify and bring the concept to life. Take a look and see the great opportunities...
Companies need to respond to the changing global business landscape, and the scale of the challenges require them radically rethink current approaches. A responsible business model which creates shared value is gaining prominence. In addition to this, from a financial perspective, there are a number of commercial reasons to embed sustainability in a company's business:
- to become future-ready;
- to gain a competitive advantage; and
- anticipate growing customer demands for more sustainable products and services.
Companies need to seize the new commercial opportunities that are offered by addressing sustainability challenges. Many are already realising the benefits of investing in exciting initiatives to create a new generation of 'green' and 'ethical' products and services; while others are creating collaborative business partnerships to address some of the challenges.
Natural capital is what nature provides us for free. It comprises elements of nature which directly or indirectly produce value to people - ecosystems, species, freshwater, land, minerals, air, oceans, as well as natural processes and functions - through a flow of goods and services for the ultimate benefit of humans (Helm, 2015).
Nature needs to be viewed as a set of assets for it to be valued properly in economic considerations. Valued assets are worth looking after: rather like your bank account, you can only take out so much before you are overdrawn. The danger is that with our current patterns of production and consumption, natural capital will be eroded, thereby undermining our planet and its ability to support our growing global population. The only way forward is a sustainable approach which aims to preserve and enhance natural capital.
For an introduction to the subject, see Natural Capital: valuing the planet by Dieter Helm, published in 2015 by Yale University Press.