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Future sustainability leaders: Maia Tarling-Hunter

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What will business look like in the future and who are our future leaders?

This is the next instalment in our series speaking with a group of young people who are making waves in sustainability. All 12 are scholars on Forum for the Future’s renowned master’s course in leadership for sustainable development.

A former secondary school teacher, Maia Tarling-Hunter decided to switch careers and focus on sustainability. Here, she tells us about some of the key lessons she has learnt over the past year.

Tell us about your experience on the Forum for the Future master’s course. What have your placements involved?

My experience on the Forum master’s course has been fantastic. After four years of secondary school teaching, this course has eased my transition into a different sector.

I wanted to develop my knowledge in sustainable development from experts across the field and over the year I’ve been exposed to a wide range of individuals and organisations. I’ve explored policy research with the Green party, been a press officer with Project Dirt, developed an employee engagement campaign at EDF Energy and I’m now working in the marketing department at Triodos Bank.

I’m feeling confident and excited about moving onto a more permanent job role, though I’ll be really sad to finish this year in July.

Where does your interest in sustainability come from? 

For me, sustainability is about social responsibility. I strongly believe in our duty as human beings to look out for, on the one hand the environment, but also for each other. I believe a disregard for the limits of the environment also reflects a disregard for the wellbeing of other people – by working to create a more sustainable society, I want to address that.

I think this is more urgent than ever with the impending impact of climate change and with the gaping inequality in our society: one in 10 Britons are now a millionaire while almost 1 million are reliant on food banks to feed themselves and their family. Working to create a more sustainable and more balanced society is one way I hope to have a positive impact.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your course? 

Having lived abroad at several points in my life, I thought of myself as quite adaptable – but this course has really taught me how to be adaptable. Starting a new job four times in one year, in four very different organisations and in four very different roles has been challenging.

The best piece of advice, from Forum staff and from fellow scholars, has been ‘just go for it’. I’ve learnt to throw myself into a new role very quickly and I’ve hugely developed my self-confidence when tackling new tasks. If you’d asked me at the beginning of the course to write an MP’s brief, organise a press campaign or run a focus group with nuclear engineers, I might have balked slightly. But I’m proud to say I’ve done all of these things very successfully this year.

What’s most important business lesson you’ve learnt? 

Just because a business is required to make money, this doesn’t mean business is a bad thing. This might seem obvious, but coming from a public sector background, I felt slightly cynical about the intentions of businesses to be more sustainable. Actually, I’ve found out that there are huge amounts of exciting things happening in the business world that are really driving sustainable development.

What one idea do you think could change the world for the better?

Our concept of value in the modern western society is warped. I think we need to return to the basics of what we value: the wellbeing of each other and our surroundings. Instead, we’re obsessed by plastic gadgets and virtual assets that are driving a bigger divide between people than, I think, they’re creating.

Without sounding too ‘let’s get back to nature, guys’, I do believe that trusting, open human interactions create a happier society. I can see how some aspects of our increasingly digital world contribute positively to wellbeing, but I don’t believe that they should be the most prized value of our society – or come at the expense of people and the planet.

What do you see of the future in terms of sustainability, business and the environment? 

I think that if you’ve chosen to be involved in sustainable development, you need to be optimistic. The amount of cross-sector (public, private and charity) conversations and collaboration that are happening at the moment is very encouraging.

I do believe there is a societal shift occurring towards a more sustainable mindset and that business has an important place in developing this. I’m not sure it’s happening at a fast enough pace to truly safeguard the environment, but those businesses that are currently active in promoting sustainable development are inspiring real change.

Where will you be in 10 years’ time?

I’d like to be able to define myself as an ‘expert’ in an area of sustainable development in 10 years’ time and be in a position where I’m using that expertise to contribute to a more sustainable world. To get there, I’d like to work in a role which focuses both on developing my expertise through research and on practically applying that research in the real world.

Further reading:

Future sustainability leaders: Ruth Shave

Future sustainability leaders: Angela Green

Future sustainability leaders: Andrew Adam

Future sustainability leaders: Zoe Draisey

Future sustainability leaders: Rebecca Trevalyan

Future sustainability leaders: Sam Gillick

Future sustainability leaders: Patrick Elf

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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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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Energy

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

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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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