In 2019, the penny finally seemed to drop. Drawing inspiration from both ends of the age spectrum by Sir David Attenborough’s wisdom and Greta Thunberg’s conviction, and further agitated by Extinction Rebellion, society reached a tipping point. According to forecasters, environmental sustainability will be to the 2020s what Jazz was to the 1920s. From now on, the majority of us will gradually avoid actively harming our planet and its atmosphere, and slowly begin to embrace positive change. If predictions for the next decade prove correct, we’ll find ourselves happily consuming insects and lab-grown protein by 2030, whilst propelled around in battery powered, driverless pods.
Over the past decade, the need for organisations to adopt genuine approaches to environmental responsibility has become self-evident, because, whether a small business filling dustbins with unseparated rubbish or a multinational corporation with a global carbon footprint, commerce generates significantly more waste than consumers.
Obviously, business owners should consider the importance of changing opinion among both consumers and companies when positioning or evolving their brand. However, whilst marketing will serve to amplify a genuine commitment to this most worthy of causes, it should ONLY be done if it is legitimate. In the new environmental economy, any sign of ‘greenwash’ will quickly develop from its current deceitful status to become a toxic turn-off for any organisation tempted to play that game.
As Kermit the Frog once philosophised, it isn’t easy being green; but for those companies that either make a genuine effort to embrace the environmental economy, or who already have products and services that can help to drive change, now is the time to act. Here in Sudbury, three local clients are doing great work to help realise the UK’s 2050 carbon neutral objective, and we can all learn a little from them.
Well-respected Sudbury employer Specflue has long been a leading UK provider of products and services related to wood burning stoves. These offer a low-carbon alternative to fossil fuels, and if logs are locally sourced, a wood burning stove is virtually carbon neutral. However, since the sector was identified as a legacy generator of particulates, Specflue has put environmental sustainability at the heart of a twin strategy to become an active carbon-reduction enabler. Firstly, it is the primary advocate for the use of ‘pellet burners’ which provide a cleaner, next-generation evolution of the much-loved wood burner. Secondly, as DEFRA has introduced Ecodesign legislation as part of its Clean Air Strategy to which all wood burners must conform by 2022 Specflue proudly promotes the fact that all of its products are already compliant.
Best of Lime is an innovative business with roots in developing and manufacturing ancient, traditional lime-based products which were used in very old buildings, preferred by both planners and owners when making repairs and restorations. However, by combining their low carbon lime building products with new application technologies, Best of Lime offers new home developers options which are not only carbon neutral but, in some scenarios, carbon reducing.
In recent years Toppesfield-based Lifestiles has established its position as a market leader in the provision of high-quality handmade clay, slate and stone roof tiles for period and prestige properties. Their products and services are also increasingly appealing to new home developers who recognise that prospective buyers value environmental features and benefits. Guaranteed for 30 years, and with plenty of evidence for tiles made using the same traditional materials and methods lasting for centuries, Lifestiles’ products could not be more focused on sustainability.
Not every business can leverage its environmental responsibility as a rational competitive advantage, especially as these practices become a common ‘hygiene factor’ for everyone. However, responsible businesses that can position, evolve or develop products and services that contribute to the 2050 carbon neutral objective and benefit our children and our children’s children will attract increasingly responsible customers as this new decade develops.
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