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Thatcherism was never about ‘me’ and ‘now’. Quite

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In a considered piece in The Times, David Willetts, minister for universities and science, articulates the nuance of Thatcher’s brand of conservatism. Her more swivel-eyed disciples really should take note.

Willetts served under John Major as paymaster general, and under David Cameron has held the universities brief, first as shadow and then as minister. Nicknamed ‘two brains’, he is certainly one of the more cerebral Conservative MPs. Importantly he worked for Thatcher in her policy unit at her peak in 1987.

There are several quotes in his article in today’s Times that stand out and are worth restating as they resonate with the central message of sustainability. You can and should read the whole article here.

Willets clearly states that Thatcher “was always more comfortable with insurgents – the entrepreneurs and the self-employedthan big business.”

He goes on: “She knew that rampant individualism was shallow and unsatisfactory. Those entrepreneurs she loved often used their wealth for outstanding acts of charity – which she expected to grow as taxes were cut.”

Importantly, he stresses her rejection of rampant and unfettered capitalism: “She was clear that capitalism had to operate in a moral framework.”

Whether the state should do the fettering or provide the moral framework would have been her question. But she understood Adam Smith’s thesis on moral sentiments, over an amoral free market.

Willetts asserts that those who view Conservatives as natural cousins of US libertarians are mistaken. He argues that economic and social liberalism are not what “holds a country together. It doesn’t even hang together as a consistent policy because the erosion of the robust virtues of self-restraint brings expensive and intrusive state intervention in its wake. Government grows as it has to pick up the bills of social failure.”

Contrary to popular opinion, he states that she “did not hate the state. She believed in strong government sustaining national greatness.”

It’s an interesting choice of words: ‘sustaining’. Energy security and climate change, which she was one of the first leaders to recognise, represent a clear and present danger to sustaining our national greatness. Pandering to big oil, gas and energy businesses, especially foreign ones, hardly seems like her style, in that context.

And we must not forget that she was a Christian; first a Methodist and then a member of the Church of England. No one can doubt her faith. Whether we agree or not with her policy decisions, we can have no doubt that her faith was part of her decision-making.

Willets explains her views on, and belief in, mutual insurance and reciprocity, in the sense of “paying in and taking out, helping and being helped“. That reciprocal exchange promotes “trust and co-operation.”

He adds: “We behave better, even without appeals to Christian duty.

The most important of these [reciprocal] exchanges are between the generations. That is why the most potent argument of all is that we who have benefited from what previous generations left for us should leave something better for our children.”

In no area is this more important that the environment. Politicians come and go. Economic theories wax and wane. What we do to the environment is irrevocable.

What has struck us this week is the caricature that both sides, left and right, have painted of Thatcher.

Her supporters focus on her economic reforms and foreign successes, ignoring the moral framework in which she believed they operated.

The detractors focus on her social conservatism, the significant social consequences and long-term economic impact of deregulation, ignoring her part in liberating Eastern Europe and commitment to individual liberty (unless you were gay).

Both are right. Both are wrong. No one’s legacy and character can be painted in purely black and white terms, although shades of grey and Thatcher would not have made easy bedfellows.

A lot has been made of her “There is no such thing as society” quote. But the Woman’s Own interview from 1987 that highlighted this phrase, neglecting its wider context, was wide-ranging and she was talking about blaming ‘society’ for individual problems. Here’s the quote in full:

They are casting their problems on society and who is society? There is no such thing! There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first.

It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour and life is a reciprocal business and people have got the entitlements too much in mind without the obligations, because there is no such thing as an entitlement unless someone has first met an obligation…

In fact she uses the phrase twice. The second illuminates her meaning more than the first.

If children have a problem, it is society that is at fault. There is no such thing as society.

There is living tapestry of men and women and people and the beauty of that tapestry and the quality of our lives will depend upon how much each of us is prepared to take responsibility for ourselves and each of us prepared to turn round and help by our own efforts those who are unfortunate.”

This is her deeply held belief in personal responsibility and reciprocity, writ large. It applies to all of our actions, whether how we behave, what we do for a living, the charities we support and what we invest in.

She believed that the establishment, with all its entitlements, could not stand by and manage decline as they had done over the previous three decades, when she came to power. They had a primary obligation to look after the nation.

The rich and poor needed to look after themselves, their neighbour and subsequent generations. Tragically, many of those who benefitted most from her policies took the first point of that sentiment to heart and forgot the second and third, in all but the most narrow sense.

Further reading:

Baroness Thatcher dies: an Iron Lady, definitely; a Green Lady, maybe

Coalition’s green fatigue is a ‘betrayal of conservatism itself’

Are capitalism and conservation incompatible?

David Cameron still needs to show real leadership in delivering a sustainable recovery

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.

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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