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20 questions with… Mark Hoskin



Mark Hoskin answers 20 questions on life, sustainability and everything.

Formerly a partner at London-based financial advisory firm Holden & Partners, he was named responsible investment adviser of the year at the Media Awards 2014.

Hoskin is also a director at Blue & Green Communications (B&GC) – which owns Blue & Green Tomorrow and Blue & Green Investor. He helped set up sustainable investment website Worldwise Investor, which was acquired and rebranded by B&GC in September 2013.

We want the world to be as blue and green tomorrow as it was yesterday. What’s your mission?

To make a positive difference to the world around me and my children.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

All I can really remember was wanting to be scrum half for Wales in the mode of Gareth Edwards. My childhood was all about sport and my dreams and aspirations revolved around them.

How would your friends describe you?

Genuine, warm, glass half full, direct and a good sense of humour.

What was your ‘road to Damascus moment’ in terms of sustainability?

I am not sure I have ever had a ‘road to Damascus’ moment. It has been more of a gradual progression. I started advising on ethical investment in the early 2000s and so I have been exposed to the ideas around sustainability for a long time.

Who or what inspires you?


What really grinds your gears?

People who litter. What makes people think that is OK?

Describe your perfect day.

This is a bit difficult at the moment as I am on a European vacation and so somewhat absented from reality. I think, though, a perfect day would involve the sun shining; a happy good morning from my children at, say, 6:45am; a relaxed trip into work with time to mull and put together a to-do list for the day ahead; a positive bit of news in the morning on a work project; followed by an enjoyable client meeting; getting through all my emails and to-do points during the day; leaving a clean desk and inbox (there is nothing quite as liberating and relaxing as knowing that your desk and inbox are clear!); home at 5pm in time to put the kids to bed by 7pm; the babysitter comes around and my wife and I go out for dinner and a few drinks.

What do you see when you look out your window at home?

At the moment, home is an apartment in the Costa Brava and so it is the sea. Not unpleasant!

What do you like spending your money on?

A good bottle of wine, entertaining people for dinner and my kids. I don’t aspire to have cars, watches or anything like that.

What’s your favourite holiday destination?

I don’t know that the venue needs to be any particular place. It might involve snow, but I do know that sitting in the sun, overlooking a cool view with a beer in my hand would be a must.

What’s your favourite book?

The Grameen Bank by Muhammad Yunus. What a difference this man made and what a well written and easy read.

What’s your favourite film?

Hmm, Little Miss Sunshine. It is a great movie about people and relationships.

You’re made prime minister. What’s the first thing you do?

Set up a commission to consider the implications of changing the tax system from one based on revenue earned to one based on carbon used and property utilised.

If you were stuck on a desert island, which famous person would you like to be stuck with and why?

At the moment, how about Putin, because if he was on a desert island with me he would not be able to rule Russia and send the mob into Ukraine. I could go to one end of the island and he could go to the other! At least then the world might be a better place.

What was the best piece of advice you have ever been given? And the worst?

My father, who believed anything is possible if you put yourself in a position to make things happen. He encouraged me to call an Oxford don to set up a meeting to talk about going to the University of Oxford when it didn’t seem a very likely outcome. “What have you got to lose?” was the rationale. He was right and it changed my life.

I am not sure I remember any bad advice – a few bad decisions, but that is not what you asked!

What would you like to be doing five years from now?

Working with intelligent, motivated, team-orientated people in a business in which I felt empowered and which had the potential both to deliver good financial returns and make a positive change to either people or the environment.

What’s your biggest regret?

I don’t really have big regrets because I have never felt compelled to do things which I did not want to do. My father used to say, “You play the cards you are dealt”, and I have always been a good card player. One clear regret I have is hurting my brother’s hand when he and I were about 10 and 8, prior to a family photo. Every time I look at that family photo I can remember him being upset and regretting that I had hurt him.

What one thing would you encourage readers to do to make their life more sustainable?

Turn the heating down and wear a jumper more often.

What’s the one idea that you think could change the world for the better?

Our main problem both environmentally and socially is energy. If, as a society, we can create energy sufficient to meet all our needs from renewable sources at a local level then the world would become a friendlier, safer and cleaner place for us and future generations.

What’s your favourite quote?

You’re my best daddy in the whole world” – Max, aged 4.

Further reading:

Mark Hoskin named best responsible investment adviser at awards

Demand for sustainable, responsible and ethical financial advice rises to 76%

Friends Provident, Ecclesiastical and Aberdeen top ethical choices for advisers

Ethical investment pioneer: Mark Hoskin, Holden & Partners

The Guide to Ethical & Sustainable Financial Advice 2013


How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable




sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

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