Climate Week is back for its second year, and 2012 promises to be bigger and better, as the UK continues its push for a sustainable future.
Last year’s inaugural occasion attracted half a million people to over 3,000 events across Britain, each of which presented attendees with practical ways that they can contribute to the fight against climate change.
Supporters of the initiative include political figures David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband, less likely names, such as Sir Paul McCartney, Stephen Merchant and Rory Bremner, as well as a plethora of organisations.
Tesco is the week’s lead sponsor, with EDF Energy, H&M, Soda Stream and most recently, Nissan, taking their places as supporting partners.
The announcement of the partnership with Nissan, which was made last month, came after the Royal Bank of Scotland cancelled its sponsorship of the event amidst claims of greenwash.
“It was clear to us that RBS’ sponsorship of Climate Week could only be greenwash when we looked at the kind of companies that they are providing finance for“, said Liz Murray, head of Scottish campaigns for the World Development Movement (WDM), after RBS pulled out in November last year.
“Our research showed, for example, that since public bail-out in 2008, RBS had raised more than £5.6 billion in finance for companies involved in carbon intensive Canadian tar sands projects, £2.2 billion of which was in the twelve months preceding Climate Week.”
The event’s decision to replace RBS with Nissan – and to again include EDF Energy as partners – is a strange one, given the generally unsustainable practices of both companies.
Nissan may have the Leaf, one of the most popular commercially-available electric cars, but it also has dozens of other, non-electric vehicles in its fleet.
EDF Energy, meanwhile, is part of the ‘big six’ – a sextet of energy providers that rule the roost in the UK market. Generating the vast majority of their power from finite, polluting sources, they are never far from controversy.
The five sponsors should therefore be seen as financial backers, rather than companies to lead a pilgrimage in sustainability.
Climate Week was set up by Kevin Steele, a campaigner on social and environmental issues for over 20 years.
“The threat of climate change is so catastrophic and the economic transformation required so great, that we have to involve every part of society”, wrote Steele, in an article for The Guardian before last year’s event.
“This includes large companies as well as charities, schools, public services, government and others.
“We cannot afford to waste precious time arguing about which organisations are sufficiently green to be allowed to take part in a movement for change.”
Steele’s rallying cry should echo across all industries; there is something to be said about his insistence on ignoring so-called ‘green’ credentials. As was revealed with RBS’ departure from the event, some companies are only in it to keep up appearances.
Between now and Sunday, there is plenty you can do to make a contribution. You can run an event of your own or find an event near your home through the Climate Week website. Have a look at this video, which documents last year’s occasion, for ideas.
Or if you fancy making an even bolder step, our friends at Good Energy, the UK’s only 100% renewable electricity supplier, have an offer in place until midnight on Sunday, in which you get £50 off your first bill with them if you quote ‘CLIMATEWEEK2012’. Visit their website for more details.
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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