Over the next weeks most of us will hopefully have the time to reflect on the past twelve months. For me these where busy and eventful 12 months to say the least.
2013 has been dominated by private commitments for me. The birth of my first daughter being the highlight of course. Private commitments can be very tricky to combine with the daily business demands but I think it all worked out well in 2013 given the circumstances.
In terms of business 2013 has also been challenging. The business itself is going well after having scaled down in 2012 to be ready for all eventualities in the coming years. The focus now will be on making sure 2014 will start of well and that we will be able to see the possible future projects on the horizon for 2015 and 2016.
From a sustainability point of view this year has taught me interesting sustainability business lessons as well. The main lesson was that it is not easy changing a business to be more sustainable while looking at the costs of everything you do and making sure that the turnover is stable or increasing to pay the bills on time for everyone.
My sustainability business lessons in 2013
I wanted to use the rest of the post to list more detailed sustainability business lessons from 2013.
Lowering your environmental impact strongly correlates with scaling down: This learning became clear when we started to lower costs back in late 2012. All the “fluff” as I call it needed to go. Our environmental footprint also went down as a result. One example was color printing. For some reason several people in the office printed all paper printouts in color! This was rectified immediately and our printing costs and footprint decreased by over 30% annually in 2013.
Trying to set up a reporting structure in busy times is very challenging: We as a business are usually very busy. This is natural to a business in my view. If you are not busy you need to change something. One of the goals in 2013 was to start with a Sustainability reporting structure. I failed to do so in 2013 I have to say. Why? We (I mostly) could not find the time to get the ball rolling. This reporting structure will obviously be one of the main goals for 2014.
Changing people’s mindsets when business thriving is even harder than in times of decreasing business: We are in a good position from a business point of view. This is good. But one major sustainability business lesson this year was that it is much harder to convince employees and associates to change their mindset when everyone is earning enough money to keep the status quo.
You need to set an example to initiate change: The last but very important sustainability business lesson this year was that everything in terms of change towards a more sustainable business starts with me. And only me. I learned that you need to start with yourself to make change happen. This might sound simple but believe me it isn’t. Old habits die-hard. Very much so on a personal level. A perfect example is the habit of executives to always have new IT equipment each year. Yes you need to have the equipment to fulfill your job but I started the practice in the business to not buy new PC’s and upgrade to the latest tech. I am only using old technology (laptops 2-3 years old) and decided to not buy new tech until I really need to. This is decreasing our costs and at the same is extending the use of the current equipment even if the tech is not state of the art.
These are the most important sustainability business lessons I learned this year. What about yours? Is there anything you feel like sharing?
Derek Markham, a fellow Sustainability blogger, wrote a really encouraging blog post about the need to be more optimistic about our sustainable future a few days ago. This is the link to the article in the Inspired Economist.
The main element of the post was a TED talk from Peter Diamandis back in 2012. Peter is a the founder and chair of the XPrize Foundation and provides us with a very honest and most importantly optimistic view of the possibilities to create our own future of the next decades.
There is too much talk about the problems we have these days with continuous negative news about Climate Change, Sustainability, etc. Peter makes sure we are well aware of what we have achieved so far in less then a century as human kind and provides us with some great examples of how technology can help us deliver this sustainable future we all (sustainability professionals at least) are working towards.
If you have 16 minutes this weekend or next week, get a coffee (or tea) ,pull up a chair and let yourselves be reassured that we can be optimistic about our sustainable future and that WE are the ones that can makes it happen as well.
This video delivered what Derek wrote it would. I hope it does the same for you.
I have realised today that I have not written a blog post in over 3 weeks. There are many reasons for not writing but these reasons should not serve as an excuse not to blog. We all seem to not have enough time these days to fit everything into our [...] Continue Reading…
Today I wanted to repost a blog post from the SustainabilityForum.com again. This post asks the basic question whether the Broken Windows Theory could in any way be applied to the current Sustainability / CSR field? This is the blog post:
Social Media can be a difficult field to navigate each day. I have used the Google Chrome browser for over a year and a half now and found it the best suited browser for the my Social Media engagement work.
Several weeks ago I ran an online sustainability poll asking whether recent university graduates should work for free when looking to gain their first Sustainability / CSR work experience. The results gave a clear message. No it is not okay to let recent graduates work for free, period. But [...] Continue Reading…
Today I wanted to introduce Phonebloks to you. Phonebloks is a social media crowdsourcing event to promote the idea of a modular-build mobile phone that would revolutionise the mobile phone industry and finally provide us with more sustainable mobile phone choices.
The Phonebloks idea
The major problem with current mobile phone [...] Continue Reading…
Several weeks ago a friend of mine asked me which UK based Sustainability consultancies I could recommend for some work to be done at his business. I assured him I could give him a short list of maximum ten consultancies I would recommend. After a few days I realised [...] Continue Reading…
I am currently on holiday in the UK and finally had some time to browse Vimeo again. I particularly liked this video featuring an array of scenes from the North American landscape. In my view this makes excellent viewing on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
Several days ago Fairphone, the company producing the first socially responsible mobile phone, published their cost breakdown of the first phone. I highly anticipated this cost breakdown report. Fairphone intents to be as transparent about their product as possible. This was their first big hurdle in my view. I [...] Continue Reading…