Making the world a better place: 8 reasons we LOVE sustainability

Valentine's Day is a time for reminiscing about love. In keeping with that tradition, here's a short list of reasons why our readers love working in sustainability. Keep up the good work!

It's hard not to fall in love with this heart-shaped solar farm, being built on the Pacific island of New Caledonia

It's hard not to fall in love with this heart-shaped solar farm, being built on the Pacific island of New Caledonia

 

1) It encourages innovation and efficiency

"Working amongst innovators means that we're looking at sustainability problems through new but generative lenses - questioning why things need to be the way they are; reimagining how to do things; trying not just to refine and improve today's products and services, but to reinvent them too," says Chris Sherwin, head of sustainability at Seymourpowell. 

"I think the intersection of sustainability, design and innovation is one of the most exciting areas of the field. I just wish there was more of us around doing it." (Read our full interview with Chris here).

Sainsbury's is a prime example of a business that is being highly innovative to be more efficient. The supermarket's head of sustainability Paul Crewe told edie: "With the buy-in of our most senior leaders, my team has been able to push the boundaries in sustainability and deliver some remarkable things - be that our record-breaking PV installations, a huge roll out of LED lighting, achieving zero waste to landfill across our estate or of course - our world-first - an AD-powered store operating off the National Grid.

"Heading up sustainability at Sainsbury's has allowed me to gather some of the leading minds in this industry, ask them the fundamental questions posed in this vitally important sphere, which without doubt  have helped to change a number of key things for the better. I also think it’s great that the term 'Green Wash' does not exist within the Sainsbury's vocabulary.

"Who could ask for more!"

 

2) It creates jobs

The green economy isn't some untested theory or pie-in-the-sky fantasy. In fact, it is evidently creating jobs and beginning to give our economy the boost it needs.

One example of this is the circular economy. A report launched earlier this week by WRAP and the Green Alliance claimed that the transition to a closed-loop system would generate 205,000 UK jobs over the next 15 years. These jobs will conveniently be in areas and occupations where unemployment is highest.

 

 

3) It leaves a positive legacy for the children of tomorrow

What will the young generation of today tell the young generation of tomorrow? In an insightful blog post last week, Liz Goodwin from WRAP wrote of two possible scenarios. Both tell a tale of a world where resources seemed plentiful, and so people consumed as much as they desired. But in only one scenario, they understood that the future of their resources wasn't guaranteed, and most importantly, acted upon it. 

"We have an obligation to make this story have a happy ending," writes Liz. "And by adopting sustainable principles, no one will have to finish the story of the Earth's resources with 'The End'." 

 

 

4) It's a platform for people, societies and businesses (yes, even rivals) to work together for a greater good

Building and maintaining relationships with any partner is difficult, let alone a competitor who fights for your market share. But the idea that traditional adversaries can realise greater benefit by upholding common environmental and social standards, rather than by competing on them, seems to have come of age. 

Here are a few recent examples to illustrate that: - 

- Tea trade body formed to avoid future hot water
- Supermarkets come together to fight the festive fat
- Toyota and Tesla share secrets to stimulate electric car market
- Nike, Adidas, Puma and others team up to eliminate toxic supply chains by 2020
- Sustainable Apparel coaltion launched
- Ikea, Tetrapak and Kingfisher throw their weight behind sustainable timber

 


5) No-one likes being dumped...

 

6) The challenge of creating a better form of capitalism is HUGE and NECESSARY

... So says Mike Barry, director of sustainable business at M&S. "The solutions required - products and services that serve the needs of all -  are a fascinating mix of behaviour change and technology; I get to work for a business I have a passion for; and the people I work with, inside and outside of M&S, are bright, brave and fun to be with." Amen to that! 

 

7) Sustainability excites us all!

Over the years, we've asked hundreds of sustainability professionals what excites them most about their jobs. Their responses speak for themselves. Here are a few of our favourites... 

Joe Franses, director of corporate responsibility & sustainability, Coca-Cola Enterprises - "No two days are ever the same. There are always new opportunities and challenges. I am a firm believer that business has the power to be a force for good. The business community can make a significant contribution to tackling societal challenges like climate change, water scarcity or obesity, but must work together with government and civil society in order to do so.

Dave Challis, vice president of sustainability, Reckitt Benckiser - "The most exciting thing for me is the breadth of sustainability - working on the full lifecycle of our products from raw materials through manufacturing and when people use our products." 

Kim Marotta, director of sustainability, MillerCoors - "I'm motivated by possibility and how we can effect positive change, no matter how big or small. My favorite quote by cultural anthropologist Margaret Meade sums it up best - 'Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world. It is the only thing that ever has'." 

‎Rich Clothier, managing director, Wyke Farms - "We love being sustainable because it makes great business sense, but more importantly, we love the area we live and work in and want future generations to be able to love it as much as we do. And that’s what good sustainability is about - thinking about future generations and making sure what we hand over to them is as good as what we took on.

 

8) And sometimes it's beautiful...


Happy Valentine's Day from edie. We ♥ you all.

Luke Nicholls


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