Sustainability has become a buzz-word in business over the last few years, but start-ups who are truly building it into their business models from the word go are finding it can help attract savvy investors. Blue and Green Tomorrow gets the low-down on one innovative business that is doing just that.
Companies are becoming increasingly aware of the wider impact of how they operate and, alongside making financial returns, they are also looking to take an approach to business that makes a positive impact socially and environmentally. The emergence of organisations such as BCorporation, whose UK arm launched in Sept 2015, show that forward-thinking businesses are choosing this Triple Bottom Line approach to business, whereby financial, social and environmental sustainability are all given equal importance.
Interestingly, as well as established businesses developing this side of what they do, some start-ups are building this in from the very beginning and are reaping rewards in terms of attracting investors.
The Wave is a Bristol-based project looking to build an inland surfing lake, powered by the latest wave-making technology. The lake is at the heart of the project, but it’s about a lot more than surfing alone. Founder, Nick Housfield, explains.
“Our vision is to create an amazing natural landscape, with spaces where people can surf, have fun, socialise, get back in touch with nature, learn and explore. We want to attract people of all ages, background and abilities to come along, reap the benefits of surfing and being in nature – and ultimately support them to develop and reach their full potential in a number of ways.”
From the very beginning Nick, a successful osteopath and keen amateur surfer, knew he wanted to take a sustainable approach to doing business. He pulled together a great team of experts in their fields, including Chris Hines MBE, to help shape the business model. Chris’ role at The Wave is to ensure sustainability on all levels really is part of the company’s DNA and that it ‘walks the talk’ as far as social and environmental impact is concerned.
“Getting Chris in from the beginning of the project was key to how it has developed. He is a highly respected communicator and driver of positive change and he introduced us to the concept of the Triple Bottom Line of Sustainability, which has governed everything we have done.”
Chris was founder and Director of environmental campaigning group, Surfers Against Sewage, for 10 years. With a strong focus on ‘solution to problems’, he helped deliver £5 billion spend on UK coastline and has a track record of challenging the status quo and bringing about changes to the way things have ‘always been done’. He feels this equally applies to how modern companies do business.
Chris expands on this, ““There is a real opportunity for commercial companies to adopt a new model of doing business that reduces environmental impacts and maximises social and environmental benefits, at the same time as helping them to be more successful financially and attract investors. If a company is truly sustainable then it will be able to build a brand that is attractive to the public and investors, it will help them attract and retain good staff, and it will help encourage good external relationships – all of which helps make an investment in the company safer in the long term.”
This rounded approach to business has helped The Wave to attract a strong following of supporters (the project has over 200,000 social media followers), was a key driver for its successful Crowdfunder campaign which smashed its £150,000 target to raise £224,000, and helped them to secure their cornerstone investors – Christopher and Jenna Gordon.
Christopher (38) and Jenna (35) Gordon became interested in The Wave after seeing its hugely successful Crowdfunder rewards-based campaign in Nov 2014. They invested 20k via this and subsequently approached the team to understand the opportunities for further investment. They subsequently invested substantial time and money in the project and now sit on the Board.
They were impressed by the robust business plan and clear indications that the project would make a good financial return, but what really struck them were the social and environmental impact aims of this pioneering project. They believe that not only is The Wave brand, vision and concept commercially viable and inevitably financially rewarding, it also offers the opportunity to facilitate positive change on a scalable and global level.
Christopher is an Angel Investor, a fully qualified paramedic and one of the judges for UnLtd’s Big Venture Challenge 2016. He comments, “Having money to invest is a very powerful position to be in. That power can be used in a number of ways. We choose to invest in entrepreneurs that think ‘out of the box’, who challenge standardised ways of operating and thinking, who are mindful of the impact they have (or don’t have) on their surroundings, who think long-term growth and impact rather than short-term gain. We want to invest in a future that inspires us and in businesses that inspire us.”
For Jenna, who has a background in child protection and has worked for a number charities, the vision of creating a place that could help everyone reach their full potential was hugely appealing. She adds:
“The Wave’s vision of providing opportunities for children and families to learn about and experience holistic healthy living, of enabling ground-breaking research to be carried out and of reducing the impact of disadvantage and segregation within communities, was compelling. To be able to help build an environment of respect,
innovation, learning, growth and inspiration – which is also financially viable and rewarding – was an opportunity we simply could not refuse.”
The Wave team has a number of specific plans for positive social and environmental impact, from outreach to inner-city kids and apprenticeships for disengaged young people, to hands-on education in marine conservation, use of renewables, and the creation of the Making Waves Foundation to support local charities and community initiatives. However in many ways it’s the core aim of creating a space for everyone, regardless of age, background or ability, to have fun and interact with each other that is it’s strongest attraction to the public and investors alike.
The project has obtained full planning approval for its site in Bristol and is now raising construction capital in order to commence work. The Wave has also applied for B-Corporation’s ‘B-Corp Pending Status’ for start-ups, which recognises its plans to be a truly sustainable business. For more information visit
4 Common Items That Can be Reused Again and Again
As a society we are getting much better at taking our obligations to the world and environment around us more seriously. This is undoubtedly a good thing! The effects of climate change are beginning to manifest across the world, and this is turning the issue from an abstract threat into a very real danger. Trying to introduce some greener, more eco-friendly practices into your life isn’t just a great way of doing something beneficial for society and the world around you. It is a wonderful way of engaging positively with the world and carries with it numerous psychological benefits.
Being a greener, more ecologically friendly person doesn’t require any dramatic life changes. Breaking or making a few small habits is all it takes to make your life a greener one. In this article we look at one of the easiest, yet most effective green practices to get into: reusing everyday items.
Jars and Containers
Glass and metal are widely recycled, and recycling is a good thing! However, consider whether any containers you buy, whether it’s a tub of ice cream or a jar of coffee, can be washed out and reused for something else. Mason jars, for example, can be used to store homemade pasta sauce and can be washed for future use. Once you start thinking about it, you will find endless opportunities to reuse your old containers.
An ice-cold soda is a wonderful treat on a hot day, but buying soda can get expensive, and the manufacturing and distribution of the drinks themselves isn’t great for the environment. However, by holding on to your old soda bottles and repurposing them as water bottles, you can save money on drinks, or use them to measure out water for your garden.
Most of the time groceries come in paper bags, which are better for the environment than the plastic alternatives, but they are less durable and thus harder to reuse. Whenever the store places your items in a plastic bag, hang onto it so you can reuse the bags again. If you want to take it one step further, consider looking into buying some personalized recycled bags. These bags are designed to last for a long time and are made of recycled materials. They look striking and unique, they’ll turn heads, and maybe even attitudes!
If you’re a keen gardener, then you will already probably know how to reseed your plants in order to ensure a fresh crop after each plant’s lifecycle. If you have space in your garden, or haven’t yet tried your hand at gardening, then consider planting a small vegetable plot. Growing your own veggies means that you’ll be helping to cut back on the emissions generated by their transport and production. The best part about growing your own food in this way is that, by harvesting properly and saving the seeds, you can be set up with fresh vegetables for life!
Reusing and recycling common household items is an easy way to make your world a little bit greener. Once you start looking for these opportunities you’ll realize that they’re everywhere!
These 5 Green Office Mistakes Are Costing You Money
The sudden interest in green business is very encouraging. According to recent reports, 42% of all companies have rated sustainability as an important element of their business. Unfortunately, the focus on sustainability will only last if companies can find ways to use it to boost their ROI.
Many businesses get so caught up in being socially conscious that they hope the financial aspect of it takes care of itself. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to go green and boost your net income at the same time.
Here are some important mistakes that you will want to avoid.
Only implementing sustainability on micro-scale
The biggest reason that brands are going green is to improve their optics with their customers. Too many businesses are making very minor changes, such as processing paperwork online and calling themselves green.
Customers have become wary of these types of companies. If you want to earn their business, you are going to need to go all the way. Bring in a green business consultant and make every feasible change to demonstrate that you are a green organization from top to bottom.
Not prioritizing investments by long-term ROI
It isn’t realistic to build an entirely green organization overnight. You will need to allocate your capital wisely.
Before investing in any green assets or services, you should always conduct a long-term cost benefit analysis. The initial investment for some green services may be over $20,000. If they don’t shave your cost by at least $3,000 a year, they probably aren’t worth the investment.
Determine which green investments will have the best pay off over the next 10 years. Make these investments before anything else. Then compare your options within each of those categories.
Implementing green changes without a plan
Effective, long-term planning is the key to business success. This principle needs to be applied to green organizations as well.
Before implementing a green strategy, you must answer the following questions:
- How will I communicate my green business philosophy to my customers?
- How will running a green business affect my revenue stream?
- How will adopting green business strategies change my monthly expenses? Will they increase or decrease them?
- How will my company finance green upgrades and other investments?
The biggest mistake that too many green businesses make is being overly optimistic with these forecasts. Take the time to collect objective data and make your decisions accordingly. This will help you run a much more profitable green business.
Not considering the benefits of green printing
Too many companies believe that going paperless is the only way to run a green organization. Unfortunately, going 100% paperless it’s not feasible for most companies.
Rather than aim for an unrealistic goal, consider the option of using a more environmentally friendly printer. It won’t be perfect, but it will be better than the alternative.
According to experts from Doranix, environmental printers have several benefits:
- They can process paper that has been completely recycled.
- They consume less energy than traditional printers.
- They use ink that is more environmentally friendly.
You want to take a look at different green printers and compare them. You’ll find that some will meet your needs as a green business.
Poorly communicating your green business strategy to customers
Brand positioning doesn’t happen on its own. If you want to run a successful green business, you must communicate your message to customers as clearly as possible. You must also avoid the appearance that you are patronizing them.
The best approach is to be clear when you were first making the change. I’ll make an announcement about your company‘s commitment to sustainability.
You also want to reinforce this message overtime by using green labels on all of your products. You don’t have to be blatant with your messaging at this stage. Simply provide a small, daily reminder on your products and invoices.
Finally, it is a good idea to participate in green business seminars and other events. If your community has a local Green Chamber of Commerce, you should consider joining as well.
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