David Tebbutt meets the environmental entrepreneur
What if we dug out and burned all the hydrocarbons buried in the ground? “Then we’d be toast.”
Thus ended a conversation with the delightful Ben Goldsmith, a man with remarkable clarity of thought and purpose. At thirty years old, he is already a veteran in philanthropic ventures, the environment and making money.
He sees the green industrial revolution as a fantastic opportunity, not only financially, but also for the good of the planet and the people on it. He owes a lot of his outlook to his family, especially his older brother Zac, who encouraged his love of nature. As boys they used to roam the woods and fields around their Ham home, learning about the wildlife, especially the birds. They used to watch mothers going back and forth, feeding their young, and they’d often ring birds to see which ones came back.
His uncle Teddy – founder of the Green Party and The Ecologist magazine – pointed him towards several business opportunities. And it’s very likely he inherited some of his business sense from his financier father, Sir James, who himself realised that “there’s no business to be done on a dead planet”.
The home he grew up in backs on to Richmond golf course and, when he was nine, Ben used to collect lost balls, clean them up and sell them back to the golfers. To get a better price, he offered to clean up the changing rooms so he could lay his hands on discarded ball boxes. Golfers would ring the bell at the gate and down would trot Ben to sell them for £15 a box.
Nowadays his business interests centre on WHEB Partners, which he co-founded in 2002, and its associated investment businesses. WHEB Partners invests in fast-growing businesses that focus on helping companies across all industrial sectors to improve their resource efficiency, thus saving money and benefitting the environment. Using resources more efficiently reduces a company’s exposure to commodity price increases and regulatory changes. In pragmatic terms, keep costs down first, conform to regulations second and be green third.
WHEB Partners’ two associated investment businesses are WHEB Asset Management, which runs a listed green equities fund with exposure to some of the world’s largest companies that are at the forefront of the green industrial revolution, and WHEB Infrastructure Partners, which invests in renewable energy infrastructure projects across Europe and is largely backed by pension funds. In total the WHEB Group has around €350 million under management today.
But Goldsmith’s time is spent primarily within WHEB Partners, which does venture and growth funding and buy-outs within the so-called cleantech theme. Its first fund was launched in 2004 and WHEB Partners now manages £130 million in long-term investments.
Goldsmith is modest about his achievements, but points out that off-market deals in the private fund are showing a decent premium on the buy-in price and the 18-month track record for the public fund is showing 20 percent growth. He is proud that he and his colleagues have created a multi-faceted green investment platform. He says: “We have built a nice solid foundation. We have a long way to go. We can’t claim any success yet.”
His commercial activities are driven by an underlying commitment to the environment. He describes himself as “an environmentalist by the age of 13″. He is utterly anti-nuclear, citing massive taxpayer subsidies in construction, insurance, waste management, security and decommissioning. Not to mention straightforward risks, the proliferation of nuclear weapons and the fact that we probably can’t wait 10 years for each one to be built.
He also rails at the fact that agrochemicals are responsible for the loss of 97 percent of British wild flowers. He owns a farm on the Somerset/Wiltshire border and, while the land is not particularly good for anything other than pasture, he is proud that it has never been artificially fertilised and so contains sites of special scientific interest.
He likes nothing better than taking his wife and three children there, where they can all get close to nature. They swim in the pond and delight in catching crayfish, “an invasive species”. When they’ve caught 20 to 30 of them, they take them back to the farmhouse and cook them in a pasta sauce.
Goldsmith is involved in a number of philanthropic activities but one of the most important is the Environmental Funders Network, which he co-founded in 2003. It comprises approximately 100 trusts, foundations and individuals making grants on environmental and conservation issues, providing them with a platform to exchange information. By collaborating informally they are able to learn from each other, pool their talents and generally be more effective than they could be acting alone.
So there we have it. At just thirty, Ben Goldsmith has achieved much already. He’s optimistic that the world will come round to his way of thinking and that we will probably wean ourselves off of hydrocarbon burning. “After all,” he says, “the Stone Age didn’t come to an end because we ran out of stone.”
How to be More eco-Responsible in 2018
Nowadays, more and more people are talking about being more eco-responsible. There is a constant growth of information regarding the importance of being aware of ecological issues and the methods of using eco-friendly necessities on daily basis.
Have you been considering becoming more eco-responsible after the New Year? If so, here are some useful tips that could help you make the difference in the following year:
1. Energy – produce it, save it
If you’re building a house or planning to expand your living space, think before deciding on the final square footage. Maybe you don’t really need that much space. Unnecessary square footage will force you to spend more building materials, but it will also result in having to use extra heating, air-conditioning, and electricity in it.
It’s even better if you seek professional help to reduce energy consumption. An energy audit can provide you some great piece of advice on how to save on your energy bills.
While buying appliances such as a refrigerator or a dishwasher, make sure they have “Energy Star” label on, as it means they are energy-efficient.
Regarding the production of energy, you can power your home with renewable energy. The most common way is to install rooftop solar panels. They can be used for producing electricity, as well as heat for the house. If powering the whole home is a big step for you, try with solar oven then – they trap the sunlight in order to heat food! Solar air conditioning is another interesting thing to try out – instead of providing you with heat, it cools your house!
2. Don’t be just another tourist
Think about the environment, as well your own enjoyment – try not to travel too far, as most forms of transport contribute to the climate change. Choose the most environmentally friendly means of transport that you can, as well as environmentally friendly accommodation. If you can go to a destination that is being recommended as an eco-travel destination – even better! Interesting countries such as Zambia, Vietnam or Nicaragua are among these destinations that are famous for its sustainability efforts.
3. Let your beauty be also eco-friendly
We all want to look beautiful. Unfortunately, sometimes (or very often) it comes with a price. Cruelty-free cosmetics are making its way on the world market but be careful with the labels – just because it says a product hasn’t been tested on animals, it doesn’t mean that some of the product’s ingredients haven’t been tested on some poor animal.
To be sure which companies definitely stay away from the cruel testing on animals, check PETA Bunny list of cosmetic companies just to make sure which ones are truly and completely cruelty-free.
It’s also important if a brand uses toxic ingredients. Brands such as Tata Harper Skincare or Dr Bronner’s use only organic ingredients and biodegradable packaging, as well as being cruelty-free. Of course, this list is longer, so you’ll have to do some online research.
4. Know thy recycling
People often make mistakes while wanting to do something good for the environment. For example, plastic grocery bags, take-out containers, paper coffee cups and shredded paper cannot be recycled in your curb for many reasons, so don’t throw them into recycling bins. The same applies to pizza boxes, household glass, ceramics, and pottery – whether they are contaminated by grease or difficult to recycle, they just can’t go through the usual recycling process.
People usually forget to do is to rinse plastic and metal containers – they always have some residue, so be thorough. Also, bottle caps are allowed, too, so don’t separate them from the bottles. However, yard waste isn’t recyclable, so any yard waste or junk you are unsure of – just contact rubbish removal services instead of piling it up in public containers or in your own yard.
5. Fashion can be both eco-friendly and cool
Believe it or not, there are actually places where you can buy clothes that are eco-friendly, sustainable, as well as ethical. And they look cool, too! Companies like Everlane are very transparent about where their clothes are manufactured and how the price is set. PACT is another great company that uses non-GMO, organic cotton and non-toxic dyes for their clothing, while simultaneously using renewable energy factories. Soko is a company that uses natural and recycled materials in making their clothes and jewelry.
All in all
The truth is – being eco-responsible can be done in many ways. There are tons of small things we could change when it comes to our habits that would make a positive influence on the environment. The point is to start doing research on things that can be done by every person and it can start with the only thing that person has the control of – their own household.
Top 5 Changes You can Make in Your Life to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
In a world, where war rages and global warming threatens our very existence, the inhabitants of earth need to be extra vigilant in their efforts to go green. This includes reducing your carbon footprint on the earth and leading a more sustainable life.
Many homeowners feel perplexed by all of the options available to reduce their carbon footprint. They may even feel (falsely) that making their household more green will fail to make that much of a difference in the fight to save our planet.
Even a single home going green has a massive impact on the environment. We can win this battle on home at a time. If you’re interested in accepting the challenge of making your household a green home, read on below for a few of the top changes you can make in your life to reduce your carbon footprint. We all stand to benefit from making the earth safer for future generations – and your wallet won’t complain when you start to see the savings in annual energy costs.
Switch From Dirty Energy to Clean Solar
The ION Solar reviews tell it all–solar is the best way to go. Whether your goal is to slash your energy bills, or to reduce your carbon footprint, the sun is a fantastic source of renewable energy.
It’s important to get past the hype from solar installers. Instead, listen to the plethora of impartial customer reviews that mention everything from a $20 energy bill, to the incredible feeling of knowing that you are doing your part by going green and minimizing harmful emissions in to our atmosphere.
The average investment is $15,000 to $30,000 for installation and purchase of solar panels. Optional battery power packs can help provide consistent power during both night and day. And many government agencies provide federal, state or local grants to help offset upfront investments in clean energy.
Depending on which installed you choose, your household may qualify for low-interest or zero interest loans to cover the up-front cost of your installation. And the loan payments are usually less than your current monthly power bill.
It really is a win-win, as home buyers are looking for homes that feature this technology – meaning solar power installation improves the resale value of your property.
And there are a number of additional home modifications that can help improve the energy efficiency of your home. A programmable thermostat can better manage energy consumption from home cooling and heating systems while you’re away from home. And weather stripping your doors can help keep cool air in during the summer, and warm air in during the winter.
Of course, energy conservation starts at home. And this includes setting a powerful example for your kids. Teach your children how to close windows, strategically keep doors open or closed based on airflow, and encourage them to leave the thermostat alone – opting for adding or removing layers of clothing instead.
Unplug Appliances and Shut Off Electronics
Unplugging your appliances when they aren’t in use, such as the toaster and the coffee maker, has more of an impact than you might think. Set your TVs and stereos on sleep timers, instead of letting them run around the clock. The cumulative impact of wasteful electronic device usage is horrible for our environment – putting unnecessary strain on our electrical grid.
One of the simplest and easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is by recycling. You are already throwing this stuff away anyway, right? It doesn’t take much more effort to just put recyclables in a separate container to be recycled, now does it?
Oh, and did I mention that you can earn money for recycling? Yes! Many cities and towns have recycling centers that will purchase your clean plastic and glass bottles for reuse.
Minimize Your Water Usage
Water is one of the easiest things to forget about when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint. Preserve water by turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth. Shorten your shower by a few minutes and turn down the heat on that water heater. You’ll be surprised at how much lower your water bill and your energy bill will be.
Saving money and reducing your carbon footprint? What isn’t to love?
These are just a few of the top ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint and start living a greener lifestyle. And we aren’t factoring in all of the advantages that we’ll reap from public investments in a smarter energy grid.
From decreasing your water usage, to switching to solar for your home’s energy needs, you will feel good at the end of the day knowing you are doing your part to save the future of this planet for generations to come!
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