When people talk about sustainability words like reducing, minimising, neutral and cutting might be used. Whilst it’s true that these terms can be heard in board rooms and businesses throughout the country, they can perhaps sound just a little bit passive or, dare we suggest it, negative even. And that just isn’t in-keeping with the vibrant, growing and ambitious businesses out there!
So can an organisation that’s vibrant, exciting, growing, competitive and ambitious still have a sustainability policy that’s worth more than, well, the paper it’s written on? If you look at current thinking amongst some of the leading global firms, then the answer is a very loud and positive YES!
Most large supermarkets for example , offer eco-friendly products like biodegradable carrier bags and even sell on reusable cotton bags and many organisations only use recycled paper in their offices.
Retail giant Asda first introduced its ‘Sustainability 360o’ programme back in 2005 when they admit they had a lot to learn about the environmental impact of their company. Now however, under the ‘Green is Normal’ slogan their sustainability commitments are truly impressive. Their goals include moving to use 100% renewable energy and to sell products that sustain people and the environment. And they want to go even further too and are committed to cutting 20 million tons of CO2 out of their business by 2015. These figures are not about passivity or reductionist thinking – they’re huge and audacious and generate a sense of excitement; all of which is essential for growth.
But it’s not just the realm of large organisations that can benefit from ‘thinking big’ when it comes to sustainability. SMEs with less than 250 employees in the Yorkshire and Humberside region for example are being encouraged to apply for a grant of up to £8,000 by not-for-profit low carbon experts CO2 Sense. Part financed by the European Regional Development Fund, these grants are available to assist company expansion whilst reducing CO2 emissions and the company are happy to invest up to £100,000 in environmental companies to help business expansion.
Want to do more and get involved? A really simple place to start could be simply starting up a group or committee at the office who get together each month to discuss ‘green issues in the workplace.’
Implement a water management plan for your office and influence employees on good water habits through newsletters and posters. If you use vending machines for hot drinks are the plastic cups necessary? Consider getting your staff to use a travel mug or cup instead.
Taking it one step further there’s also likely to a plethora of information online about local initiatives you could adopt plus you could also consider joining over 3,800 organisations who are already committed to The Mayday Network and pledge to take action on climate change and resource depletion.