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Green Dragon: Kelly Evans

For businesses to survive they must stand for something other than profit – according to Kelly Evans from Social Change. Charlotte Reid spoke to her to find out how she is convincing companies to change their behaviour for good.

Our previous Green Dragons have wanted to help the environment by debunking climate change myths or investing their money ethically, but Kelly Evans wants companies to realise the power for a brand in acting in a socially responsible way.

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For businesses to survive they must stand for something other than profit – according to Kelly Evans from Social Change. Charlotte Reid spoke to her to find out how she is convincing companies to change their behaviour for good.

Our previous Green Dragons have wanted to help the environment by debunking climate change myths or investing their money ethically, but Kelly Evans wants companies to realise the power for a brand in acting in a socially responsible way.

Evans runs Social Change, a marketing research, communications and design agency that specialises in behaviour change. This means that Social Change works to improve people’s behaviour and to put social responsibility and sustainability at the heart of a business.

Social Change has worked with the NHS and Government departments, as well as others. Some of the campaigns she has been involved in include Change4Life, how to get more people recycling and how to get more people buying sustainable products.

Evans explains that the job involves “using marketing tools and techniques for a social good by selling products and services that will have a positive impact on the environment or people and society”.

She says that before companies start telling their customers how to behave, they have to change their own behaviour first, “Businesses have to change their own behaviour internally and ensure sustainable practice throughout their entire value chain from how they make products to how they treat the people they employ.  

“If they really want to convince the public that they are a company worth having a relationship with, businesses must start building a brand that stands for more than just profit to convince customers that you really are a good company.”

Blue & Green Tomorrow has written about people’s concerns about investing ethically because it will not perform as well as traditional funds. The same can apply to some businesses when they have to think about more than profit.

Evans sees that businesses need to get used to the idea that more than just profit will be beneficial.

“It is my view that you can be a profitable company and be socially responsible”, she says.

“They do go together. You can in fact have genuine competitive advantage over other businesses by becoming a socially responsible company and we work with companies to achieve this.

“So they stand for something bigger and they are actually contributing to the wider society and helping the planet.”

Make a difference

There was one moment when Evans was 18-years-old that made her realise she wanted to make a difference. She spent three months in New York documenting the experiences and lives of young people who were clinically obese.

Evans says, “This experience had a real profound impact on my life and the direction that I wanted to take and I decided that I wanted to be able to do something that helped people”. As she was working in journalism and marketing she wanted to see if those skills could make a difference.

“So that’s when I became very much involved in social marketing. I worked with the NHS, and with charities and Government departments to see how we could try and help people to change their behaviour, change their views or lives around certain issues.”

Tough times

However, Evans is aware of how hard it is to convince companies of the merits of being a sustainable company as well as a successful business. But she is optimistic.

“If you asked me now if people are choosing a brand today based on its values or its contribution to the society and the planet I would probably say no. But if you asked me that again tomorrow I might say yes because things are changing.

“There are still lots of businesses and companies out there who can’t see the return on investment, at the moment, but there are many out there who can see the benefits. And I think the ones that can and do will be the businesses who are going to have the competitive advantage in the future.”

One problem that Evans identifies is the tough economic climate.

“It’s a recession where price and profit are the things that are driving companies to survive”, she says.

“It is very hard.”

But that shouldn’t stop companies acting.

“I think the best thing to do right now is to start thinking about sustainability as the next step in their evolution as a company.”

But how long will it take before companies change their behaviour? “How long is a piece of string?” she says. “In some companies change will only occur following a crisis or when competitors have jumped ahead.”

However, she is positive, “Behaviour change can take decades but in some cases small wins can be had in the short term”.

She draws from her own experience as Social Change is currently working with 25 restaurants to help them make small changes to put healthier options on the menu.

Evans explains that this small act “has already had a real positive impact”. It was found that there was an increase in the number of people who chose the healthier dishes and increased profit for the participating restaurants.

So Evans explains that the restaurants “could see the benefit – they did something good but they also benefitted themselves as a company in the short term”.

Evans finishes with a challenge.

“I would challenge any company or business that thinks they can’t be sustainable and be profitable and say that you can from small businesses to large multi-nationals.

“But you’ve got to start today. Don’t leave it until tomorrow because that is another day that you could potentially be missing out on opportunities.”

You don’t have to start your own company to make a difference. There are a number of things you can do to help make tomorrow as blue and green as it was yesterday.

Talk to your financial adviser, if you have one, about ethical funds for your money. Or let us help you by filling in our online form.

Also consider when shopping to visit websites like the Ethical Superstore. Switch to Good Energy, using home grown energy instead of fossil fuels and carbon. And consider sustainable travel when you’re thinking about your next holiday.

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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