Many businesses around the world have advocated for going all-in on sustainability, but IKEA has been at the forefront of this, with ambitious targets set for the near future. Operationally, they have switched all their lighting to energy-efficient LEDs, as well as sourcing all their cotton from renewable sources. However, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. IKEA are striving towards 100% renewable energy. As their video mentions, they have installed over 250,000 solar panels that have helped power their operations (at a cost of €2.1Bn) and have also been heavy investors in wind energy. In 2014, IKEA purchased a 165-megawatt wind farm in Texas, which will bring its American power production from wind to the equivalent of 90,000 households.
IKEA have encompassed their environmental attitude in a project called Live Lagom, a simple Swedish philosophy that means ‘just the right amount’. This has in mind that we can have a healthy balance with the world around us without having to make any extreme changes and without denying ourselves anything. The project strives to help people make easy changes in their lifestyles to have a positive impact on the environment.
Just like IKEA, Unilever are a business that has sustainability at heart. They are very transparent, and accept that their environmental impact per consumer has risen by around 6% since 2010 (source). However, they have had many successes. They have seen a 39% reduction of CO2 per tonne of produce since 2008, and aim to eliminate coal from their energy grid and source their electricity from renewable sources instead. Unilever also have plans to reduce their impact through water use and waste produced, eliminating non-hazardous waste that goes to landfill.
Their short advertisement touches on their sustainable living plan, outlining a future where no animals are endangered and we are all able to sustainably produce our own food. As they say, businesses have a big part to play, as do all of us as individuals.
The LEGO Group have in the past have had quite a focus on sustainability. They have recently invested 1Bn DKK (Danish Kroner) in their search for sustainable materials. However, this did not deter Greenpeace from producing their second-most viewed video ever. The video is quick to bring tears to eyes, shedding light on the harsh reality that is the oil industry and its effects on our world. The video shows people, houses, polar bears, dogs and many others being drowned in a thick sludge, what we can only assume to be a representation of an oil spill. This moving advertisement is a call from Greenpeace for the LEGO Group to end their partnership with Oil Giant Shell. Alas, the campaign worked. Lego announced in October 2014 they would end their partnership with Shell, only demonstrating the power of advertising.
Sustainability has become a big part of the agenda for companies, governments and individuals alike. Anthropogenic climate change is now a global issue, and it is up to all of us to try and be aware of what we’re doing and how we can avoid contributing to this potential disaster in the future. As with many things, tech – in the form of apps –can help. Without further ado we present 4 really useful apps to help you in your path to sustainability.
JouleBug has lately received a lot of praise, with an overwhelming number of positive responses on the Google Play store. Available also for iPhone devices, JouleBug allows you to track your everyday habits and make small changes to make your actions more sustainable. The app is gamified, meaning you can get points for every positive action you do. Did you cycle instead of driving? 16 points in the bag. Did you use a reusable mug for your cup of tea? That’s an extra 5 points. Moreover, the app can sync to your utilities, allowing it to track any reductions you may possibly be making and giving you credit for doing so. With claims of the app saving around £160 per year, it’s both a financial and environmental incentive to get started.
This may seem like an odd choice to be grouped as a sustainability app, but it is genuinely helpful when it comes to reducing emissions, particularly during rush hour. As you slow down and wait in traffic, your car is still emitting noxious fumes from its exhaust, making your emission tally significantly higher than it would be from a speedier journey. Waze tries to avoid this, giving drivers live updates on traffic times and alternate routes. These are all fuelled by the community, as Waze uses data from other drivers to keep you informed as to which route is best. Waze is completely free, and can help you save money in the long run as you burn less fuel. It’ll also mean you can get home quicker after work, and certainly with less road-rage!
As you may have heard, Nest is a smart thermostat that keeps your home at a comfortable temperature, all controlled from your phone, tablet or watch. The thermostat is also intelligent, learning from your behaviour and knowing when to turn itself off and on. When it comes to saving energy, this app is great. Instead of keeping your empty home warm all day, you can use the app to turn the heating on just before you arrive, saving you countless hours of wasted energy. To use the app, you need to have the Nest thermostat (hardware) installed in your home –but it’s certainly worth it. Energy (and financial) loss through heating is the main use of energy in homes in the UK, so any technology to help you with this is bound to come in handy.
Having an urban garden is beneficial in more ways than you could imagine. Most urban gardening systems offer considerable water, energy and space savings compared to traditional systems, which use plenty of land and energy to allow for their mechanisation. Furthermore, they allow you to grow your own food organically and for negligible cost, as once you’ve got your setup ready all you’ll need is seeds, soil and water. You don’t even need fertilizer, as you can use organic matter from your vegetables for compost!
GrowVeg is an app that makes the process of having a vegetable garden at home incredibly easy. The app allows you to keep track of where all your crops are, keep a text and photo journal and give you reminders via email. The app will also warn you on where and when to avoid planting vegetables and give you access to a gardening community where you can ask questions, seek advice and help others in their home gardening experience.
The technology is now available to make us much more eco-friendly beings. From producing your own food to reducing your emissions, there are many things you can do, incentivized by apps to keep track of what you’re doing and get others to follow suit. On top of small personal changes you can make, understanding your businesses carbon footprint can make a huge difference. If you want to know more, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
As businesses become increasingly more aware of the requirements consumers demand for sustainability, so does the community around ensuring the topic is front and centre of discussions in 2017. As there are some great sustainability events in 2017, we’ve compiled a varied list of some upcoming interesting events and conferences for businesses and individuals alike.
One day Conference – 27th April 2017 #thebiggreenconference
It is designed to build a programme of learning and networking, coupled with the introduction of products and technologies in support of energy, recycling, waste and general environmental management efficiency.
Keynote speaker: Ken Webster Head of Innovation at Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Circular Economy. He will be speaking about the subject of the circular economy.
Philip Duddell, Director of Sustainable Procurement Limited. Philip will discuss how the surround procurement actions and the monitoring of relevant outcomes link to the transition to a circular economy and practical measures that procurers and suppliers can take.
Josh Fothergill, Policy Lead at the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA). He will be speaking about integrating the Circular Economy in organisations, based on his experiences developing the forthcoming standard BS8001, due to launch in May 2017.
Date and Time: Thu 27 April 2017. 09:30 – 16:30
‘Leading a Sustainable Future’ – Responsible Business Week Conference 2017
As part of Responsible Business Week 2017, the University of Portsmouth Business School and Business in the Community (BiTC) are working together to provide local employers with an opportunity to explore latest thinking, share best practice, and find solutions to some of the challenges currently facing business and society.
Keynote speaker: Mark Smith, CEO of The Southern Co Operative. Mark, a member of the BiTC Advisory Board for the South East, has been actively involved in driving the agenda for companies to engage with education in the region, and will share his thoughts on how to lead a responsible business.
Date and time: Thu 27 April 2017, 16:30 – 20:30
A cool idea that’s being started up by University of Stirling in Scotland. “The Conversation…” is a chance to hear from some of the country’s most interesting people, and put your questions to them as part of the audience. The first one is with Terry A’Hearn, Chief Executive of SEPA – the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
He will be talking about his 20+ years’ experience in the environment profession, having worked in Melbourne with the Environment Protection Authority, in London with the global consulting firm WSP and in Belfast as Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency before joining SEPA in 2015.
Date and time: Wed, March 22, 2017, 5:00 PM – 7:00 PM GMT
This launch event will feature key note speakers from business, health and environment sectors, facilitating discussions and a range of networking opportunities. It hopes to enable the North East regions people and environment to become healthier and wealthier in the coming decades.
Guest speaker: Paul Brannen, who is a North East Member of the European Parliament & Environment Committee. He will be giving an insider’s perspective on the challenges and opportunities of leaving the EU.
Date and time: Tue 28 February 2017, 09:45 – 15:00
Cost: Free (Though The Capability Foundation accept donations for support as well).
The aim of this event is to bring together for the first time the many different players involved in net impact approaches to explore the synergies and methodologies, and investigate how efforts can be scaled up. By net impact we mean evaluating the positive and negative effects of business in relation to sustainability. This includes amongst other things: Net Positive/Net Gain, No Net Loss / Net zero, Integrated Profit & Loss Accounts / Total Contribution, Environmental & Social Profit & Loss Accounts, Creating Shared Value, Impact Investing and Integrated Reporting.
Date and time: Wed 24 May 2017, 09:00 – 17:30.
Cost: £270 – £438
Sustainability is all over the media and is attracting the attention of governments, businesses and consumers alike. The planet has, as a whole, made steps towards becoming more sustainable, with the ratification of the Paris Agreement and other global agreements striving to take action. It has now got to the point where businesses cannot actively avoid having a stance on sustainability and will need to invest in it to keep their heads above the water.
With technology really making its way into everything (IoT – Internet of Things), we can expect to see an increasing number of gadgets that will help monitor and keep track of different measures of sustainability and help us achieve our targets. Take a look at Google’s Nest thermostat, for example, which will allow consumers greater control over the temperature in their homes and can keep temperatures in check even when away from home, resulting in savings of 10-12% on heating and 15% on cooling (link).
The IoT will also pave the way for perhaps the biggest player of all – big data. Big data, the term for data sets so large that traditional processing techniques are rendered inadequate, allows for Big Data Analytics, the method of examining the data to uncover hidden patterns and correlations in the data, including market trends customer trends and other information. Economics aside, Big Data Analytics will pave the way for better logistics, resulting in CO2 offsets and other benefits. UPS, the global delivery company, recently revealed they had used uncovered data to minimise and often eliminate left-hand turns, resulting in millions of gallons of fuel saved and fewer accidents. It may seem counter-intuitive, but that’s the beauty of big data!
Aside from the goodwill factor of sustainability, it makes your company look good. Look at the global market leaders in their fields – Google, Amazon and Ikea have announced huge plans regarding sustainability as they plan into the future zgthxp3. Google, the largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy, is the leader in the clean energy revolution. This year, 2017, Google will reach 100% renewable across the globe, in both its data centres and offices, sourcing 2.6 gigawatts of energy from wind and solar. Ikea have pledged to be completely energy independent in all its shops by 2020, investing over $680 million over the next few years to do so. Not only will this reduce their carbon footprint, but will take a significant portion of their energy bill away, resulting in significant financial savings in the long run.
Workplaces will also adapt to sustainability. Flexible hours and schedules that allow for workers to come into work earlier or later than usual will reduce congestion and slice emissions while working from home can negate transport emissions. Workplaces are being fitted with sustainable designs, which encourage productivity and employee wellbeing while having a positive environmental impact. Using energy saving windows can yield huge savings, as well as using an intelligent design for the construction and fitting of the building. These are all being fitted into new builds around the world, but it is up to you as a business to take the extra step forward to reduce your environmental impact.
Being sustainable in business is no longer an option – it’s something that simply can’t be turned down any longer. Governments are making a push for sustainability more than ever before and businesses are following suit. It makes financial to do so, as the efforts are minimal and can yield big financial savings and reductions in CO2 emissions. As the Harvard Business Review suggested, companies that invest in sustainability tend to do better financially and are more likely to display higher levels of innovation and entrepreneurship.
Solar Plant: https://www.flickr.com/photos/103707855@N05/16487460430/in/photolist-gwmAC2-g1EDcJ-gwmN7H-foXJ3P-5bSYyi-f4539G-r7Wxz9-rnd439-9EUwt7-fzQ1XH-5bXfXo-5bXfQQ-5bSYrz-6fAKEp-5bSYw4-5bSYwV-5bSYzX-5bSYt8-twZX2-fpcZFA-dUP6rs-9KE4RW/