We don’t want to be preachy or boring but this blog is where we share our values and experiences and write about the issues shaping the future of our businesses and our society. Catch a glimpse into our lives and find out what’s new in our world...

Friday, 27 March 2009

Abandon Sustainability At Your Peril

First published on 26 March as a guest blog on Chemical Week.

Last year, climate meant global warming, climate change and general environmental catastrophe. Green was hip. Now the only climate we hear about is the economic climate and it's anything but hot. In fact, it's dismal and getting worse as the UK and the rest of Europe heads for even stormier waters. The fundamentals are bad, as some largely-ignored economists have been predicting for years. The pound is weaker than we can remember and even those who retired to the sunnier parts of the eurozone are heading home as they can no longer afford the euro. Is political will alone enough to keep the euro together since the rules of the game seem to have gone out the window long ago? Will some countries start getting kicked out of the Euro? But that would be for a different blog, different blogger and the intro on my blog says environment so let's stick with that for just a moment longer.

My chief concern is that in among all the doom and gloom and job losses and plant closures we are rapidly losing sight of the bigger environmental picture. We are fighting for the survival of our comfortable way of life. And yet, if we continue to consume without moderation, we will be fighting for more than just our 'mode de vie'. It's easy to say when you still have work and a roof over your head but we neglect sustainability at our peril. Climate change is not negotiable. It is a reality.

Resources are getting scarcer. Sustainability doesn't just make your survival instinct feel better, it makes business sense. Whatever widget you produce, doesn't it make sense now more than ever to cut production costs? And to demand efficiency of your raw materials suppliers? Of course, the downside is often upfront investment but grants and loans may be available to businesses to improve some aspects, like energy efficiency. In some cases, the cost savings of more efficient production come quickly. In others, it is a longer-term prospect. But consider this, what long-term prospects do we have for survival and what legacy do we leave behind if we destroy the limited resources we have just so we could carry on consuming? Companies who do not lose sight of their sustainability objectives now will reap the rewards in the future. We need to stick with it, despite the economic instability.