POSITIVE NEWS - Future-proofed trading: five ways to make your business more sustainable
Whether you run a neighbourhood cafe or a multinational company, embracing sustainability can help make your business and the planet more resilient
From the coronavirus pandemic to the climate crisis and the uncertainty raised by Brexit, businesses across the UK are facing myriad challenges while also trying to get on a more sustainable footing.
Not just for the sake of the planet. Embracing environmentally-friendly business practices is increasingly seen as a way to remain competitive in a changing world. A 2016 survey carried out in the US found that 64 per cent of millennials consider a company’s social and environmental credentials when deciding where to work, a proportion that is likely to have grown as awareness about the climate crisis has increased.
As well as attracting climate-savvy employees, businesses scoring well on sustainability are well placed to entice an increasingly conscious consumer. In short, addressing sustainability is one way to future proof your business.
The Naturesave Trust, an environmental charity funded by the ethical insurance provider Naturesave, has been assessing businesses and offering them sustainability advice for more than 25 years. The trust carries out assessments known as Environmental Performance Reviews (ERP) for Naturesave commercial customers.
“It provides a clear framework for businesses to become more sustainable,” says Alice Doyle, an independent environmental consultant, who carries out EPRs for Naturesave Trust. “We try to reduce a company’s greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible, considering every possible factor.”
For some, the EPR has provided a unique insight into the exact ecological impacts of each part of their business. “It was an impressively comprehensive report,” says Philip Koomen, owner of Oxfordshire-based Philip Koomen Furniture. “It connected the dots and allowed me to assess exactly what I was doing.”
For others, the review acted as a trusted stamp of approval. Ian Falconer, founder of Fishy Filaments, a recycling company that takes used fishing gear from fishing fleets and processes it into supplies for 3D printing, says it was a “perfect way” to demonstrate to clients that a third party has verified their processes.
Taking inspiration from Naturesave’s EPRs, here are five practical steps that businesses can take to become more sustainable:
1. Make your money matter
One of the most impactful changes a business can make is being more discerning about where they put their money. According to the campaign group Make My Money Matter, approximately £3 trillion is invested in UK pensions and much of it helps fund the fossil fuel and arms industries. Many banks and insurance companies also use their customers’ money to invest in the fossil fuel sector.
To ensure your business’s money is driving positive change instead consider switching to an ethical bank, such as Triodos UK, and pension fund, and taking out an ethical insurance premium. Make My Money Matter says doing so will enable companies to play a part in “building a future we can be proud of, economies we can rely on, and an environment we can thrive in.”
Good with Money is a useful resource for individuals and businesses seeking to drive positive change with their money. Its ‘Good Egg’ accreditation system identifies financial services companies that benefit society and the environment. “We need to understand where our money goes, then consciously direct it somewhere better,” said co-founder Rebecca O’Connor.
"We need to understand where our money goes, then consciously direct it somewhere better"
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Photo: Adam Winger