I once had a discussion with a business owner who was quite annoyed that she had been accused of not being a ‘proper environmentalist’. Bearing in mind that she ran a social enterprise manufacturing washable terry nappies, her crime was apparently running a company and trying to make a profit. The chap pointing the finger lived off-grid, ate only products from their allotment and did not work (so as to not contribute to a damaging corporate system).
Whereas I have always admired people that are strongly committed to their beliefs. I quite like eating the occasional burger and don’t know of any business that wouldn’t like to grow its sales and increase profitability. So where does this leave us? Can a business or I ever be a ‘proper environmentalist’?
Businesses account for 31% of all green-house gas emissions in Great Britain. Scandals haven’t helped us warm to their environmental credentials either (Volkswagen anybody?) However, in recent years there has been increasing stimulus for companies to engage in improving environmental performance: impact on reputation, stringent legislation and environmental supply chain requirements as well as cost and resource savings, have promoted and highlighted the benefits of putting sustainability in the spotlight. The impact is already being felt: in 2011 nearly half of the UK’s largest companies did not have targets on greenhouse gas emissions. By 2015, this had decreased to a quarter. These trends aren’t restricted to just larger companies either. SMEs have seen increased engagement with more energy efficiency funding, particularly focused to those adopting or innovating low-carbon technologies.
Emotional bashing and trying to ignore their existence won’t make big business go away. But rational scrutiny, helping them to become more aware of the environmental consequences of their operations and driving them to continually improve, will lead to enduring change and a greater integration of sustainability into business models.
On my part, I recently replaced all the lighting in my kitchen with LEDs and halved my meat intake. I don’t think the pointy-finger-off-grid chap would call me a ‘proper environmentalist’ but give me time.
LCMB team can improve the performance and productivity of your buildings and estates to increase your organisations return on investment and competitiveness. For further information contact: John O’Brien our MD on t: 01295 722823 or by email.