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26 January 2018

On Demand: 12 Kick Ass Sustainability Ideas for 2018

If you missed Wednesday's Green Academy taster, 12 Kick Ass Sustainability Ideas for 2018, fear not. You can stream the session by clicking on this link (requires a Webex player download).

To get the full experience you should also download the workbook first and use it to apply the thinking to your organisation.

A number of taster participants have signed up for the full Green Academy syllabus – if you want to take advantage of the 25% discount offered on the full price of £330 + VAT, then use this link to pay by Paypal or debit/credit card before 31 January 2018. 


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6 October 2017

Sustainability Bites 6/10/17

Here's this week's edition of Sustainability Bites, covering the Sustainability elements of the Conservative Party Conference (more than you'd think), the latest green energy record and some of the exciting things that I've been doing this week. Comments in the comments!


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1 August 2017

Happy 11th Birthday Terra Infirma!

Terra Infirma is 4 years old!So, it is 11 years to the day that I jumped off the cruise ship of salaried employment and onto the windsurfing board of solo consultancy – just before the tsunami of the 2007/08 financial crisis gave me a rather brutal lesson in business survival. Looking back over the last year, as I always do on this date, the uncertainty created by Brexit has certainly caused similar choppy waters as many people who would like our help are either unable to invest, or afraid to.

This has led to a year of ups and downs. A good illustration is that, while our North of England-based Corporate Sustainability Mastermind Group is going from strength to strength, hitting the maximum membership limit this year for the very first time, I was unable to get a critical mass together to launch a Southern chapter. Brexit was quoted by several otherwise very interested contacts as a reason they couldn't commit. The great irony of course is that during the financial crisis companies with a strong commitment to Sustainability weathered the storm better than those who didn't.

But that grumble aside, here are some more highlights of the last 12 months:

  • Continuing to work with our wonderful roster of existing clients including the BBC, NHS Blood & Transplant, Johnson Matthey, Newcastle NHS Hospitals Trust and Stanley Black & Decker;
  • Some great new clients including Durham University, Esh Construction, the Thirteen Group and Elopak;
  • The publication of our latest white paper Seven Steps to a Successful Sustainability Strategy;
  • Some fantastic questions for my regular Ask Gareth YouTube series (If you haven't subscribed to our YouTube channel, get over there straight away and do so);
  • Continuing success of our regular Green Academy training programme;
  • And, more recently, the launch of our new online training course: Green Jujitsu: Smart Employee Engagement for Sustainability.

And things are looking pretty good for the six months ahead with an strong focus on helping clients to implement their Sustainability Strategy. The good ship Terra Infirma sails on!


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6 January 2017

The Importance of Sustainability Conversations in 2017


Happy New(-ish) Year from Terra Infirma!

I write this from a ward of Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary after surgery on the little finger upon which I cleverly landed when out running/dancing-on-ice exactly a year ago. Not the most auspicious start to the year, but the enforced time out is giving me a chance to reflect on the last year or two and plan the year ahead.

One thing I have concluded is that our non-project delivery mechanisms often deliver much more value to our clients than the traditional consultancy project. A project is tightly defined and the client gets what they asked for. But in Sustainability it is often the stuff that people don't know that they don't know where major breakthroughs lie – those crucial issues take conversation to uncover, not phases and milestones and deliverables.

We have three main non-project delivery mechanisms (in increasing level of conversation richness):

But shameless plugs aside, with whom are you going to (or do you need to) have conversations about Sustainability in 2017? Is it everybody, or, more likely, key influencers? How will you start that conversation? What language will you use? What format will it take? And how will you work with the results?

And, as that last paragraph demonstrates, one of the best ways to kick off a conversation is with a question.

Here's to a successful and more sustainable 2017, full of rich conversation!


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12 December 2016

Join Green Academy in 2017

For those who don't know, Green Academy is our unique series of 10 sustainability webinars (on-line seminars). These are different from most freebie sustainability webinars in 3 ways:

1. They are designed and delivered as learning sessions, not sales pitches;

2. We provide you with a workbook for each session, so you can apply the learning to your organisation and generate an action plan to take forward;

3. We charge a modest fee to take part which is extraordinary good value given the amount you learn.

The video below explains how it works.

Here are the Green Academy dates for 2017:

If you sign up to Green Academy 2017 before midnight on 31 December 2016, we'll give you 33% off the usual price of £330.00 + VAT using the button below (or e-mail us and we'll send you an invoice)

Alternatively you can sign up to the free taster session, 17 Kick Ass Sustainability Ideas for 2017, on 18 January here, although you won't get the same deal on the other 10 afterwards.


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25 November 2016

Green Academy Black Friday Offer

green-academy-2017OK, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. This year, for the very first time, we're offering a Black Friday deal on next year's Green Academy – and it's a whopper! All 10 webinars (11 including the Taster) for just £165.00 + VAT – 50% off the normal cost. But only if you sign up today – just click the button below.

If you're not familiar with the Green Academy format, with our unique workbooks to help you apply the ideas directly to your business, then check out the video below. 

And there's more! We're also offering 50% off our on-demand Workshop Masterclass. If you are not using workshops as a change management tool, then you should be – you're almost guaranteed buy-in if you involve people in designing the change you are trying to make. Click here to get 50% off the usual price of £60.00 + VAT.

You can't say fairer than that!



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25 January 2016

How to engage people in sustainability? Simple. Ask them.


During the 16 Kick-Ass Sustainability Ideas for 2016 webinar last week, I (inevitably) covered Green Jujitsu – the idea that we should 'frame' sustainability to match the culture, interests and habits of each audience rather than expecting people to move from unengaged to eco-warrior in the course of a single powerpoint presentation. I explained how I first 'discovered' the power of Green Jujitsu by running an engagement session for engineers where I got them solving their own sustainability issues using simple engineering problem-solving tools. In other words, I framed sustainability as an engineering challenge. They loved it.

During the webinar Q&A I was asked how I work out the prevailing culture in an organisation if I'm not familiar with it. Great question and a problem I've had to solve in practice when I've been asked to do employee engagement in sectors I'm not familiar with. There'd be nothing worse than making a presuming a particular group of people think a particular way and finding out the hard way I'd got it all wrong.

The answer is I ask the employees themselves – or a group of them anyway. This is a great job for that network of green champions who are probably wondering what they should be doing.

I simply put up a paper template on the wall with a happy face at one end and a sad face at the other and ask the group to note on post-its what turns their colleagues on and what turns them off. If you cluster similar responses together on the template, you'll get a powerful map of positive and negative drivers with which to design your engagement.

For example, when working with a media group, speed and impact bubbled to the top – there was no point in talking to these guys about 'cathedral building', their product had a lifespan of hours. When working with a waste group – who sign 25 year contracts with local authorities – quite a different mindset emerged.



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21 January 2016

On Demand: 16 Kick Ass Sustainability Ideas for 2016

green business webinars

Yesterday I hosted our annual Green Academy Taster Session, this one entitled "16 Kick Ass Sustainability Ideas for 2016" – a fast moving run through some cutting ideas at the forefront of sustainability. We had a fantastic turnout from around the world – including a strong antipodean contingent – a truly global affair.

You can watch the session here (requires Webex viewer download). To get the full experience, you should download the workbook first.

We have a special offer on the full 2016 Green Academy syllabus – just £264.00 + VAT if you sign up before 31 January 2016. You can see all the sessions here.

Click here to get the discount via a credit/debit card or Paypal – or drop me a line if you'd prefer to be invoiced.

Having done 14 ideas for 2014, 15 for 2015 and now 16 for 2016, I'm wondering how much further I can take it!


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4 January 2016

Looking forward to a (more) sustainable 2016!


Well, I'm sitting here, steaming gently after my first exercise of 2016, and pondering the year ahead. 2015 was the best year in Terra Infirma's history, however you measure it, and it's going to be a real  challenge to raise the bar in 2016. I've got some very exciting plans in store, along with the results of some fab client projects, at least one of which will be publicly available.

If you want to join us to make the sustainable business revolution happen in 2016, we have a whole load of ways to accelerate progress in your organisation:

  1. First up, make sure you're subscribed to The Low Carbon Agenda (see right), our free monthly sustainability bulletin. We're going to hit edition 100 in a couple of months and I'll be putting together some really great stuff for then.
  2. Secondly, try out our Green Academy on-line training, for free, by signing up to 16 Kick Ass Sustainability Ideas for 2016 on 20 January. I guarantee you'll get more than a couple of inspirational ideas out of it to kick off your year.
  3. The Corporate Sustainability Mastermind Group hits its fourth birthday this year. It's my favourite thing that we do – a small group of sustainability leaders from some of the world's greatest organisations putting their heads together to learn from each other. One member who joined in 2015, Colin Thirlaway, Global Sustainability Lead for Black & Decker, described the group as 'invaluable' to his work. We have one seat free – contact me if you are interested!

Here's to a truly brilliant and sustainable 2016!


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12 August 2015

Happy Birthday to Us!

Terra Infirma is 4 years old!While I've been away in the US of A, Terra Infirma celebrated its ninth Birthday. I often take the excuse at this time of year to indulge in a little navel gazing over the ups and downs of the last year and this time it is a pretty simple story.

2014 dismal.

2015 fantastic!

The end of last year was, from my perspective, dominated by the illness and death of my mother so it is no wonder business was slow. So let's draw a veil over that, and have a look at what has been going so right this year.

  • Green Academy has had something of a resurgence with mega-companies like Sage plc and Dover Corporation signing up for the whole year, and other big names such as Kohler and Royal Haskoning signing up for individual sessions.
  • The Corporate Sustainability Mastermind Group has gained brilliant new members including Newcastle NHS and Black & Decker.
  • We've taken on a major project with one of the superstars of sustainability, Interface, continued working with long term client NHSBT, and completed a project for Sunderland University.
  • As a result, already this year we have invoiced more than the whole of last year.
  • Plus we've been doing lots of fun stuff including Ask Gareth (as always I need more questions to chew on!).

Overall, I am very proud to be supporting such distinguished clients in making a difference in the world - we must be doing something right.

Looking forward to next year, the lesson I have learnt from 2014 is that we need more mechanisms to deliver value to all of you you when I am personally unavailable. This is a major work in progress and we will be launching several new packages before Christmas. Stay tuned!


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7 April 2015

On sustainability, feelings beat facts. Fact.

Environmental data and analysisLast week we had another fantastic turnout for our annual Green Academy on employee engagement for sustainability. There were some really big names taking part – including some who are seen as sustainability exemplars.

The two points I really try to hammer home on these sessions are:

  • People's feelings are a much stronger driver for their behaviour rather than rational thought;
  • You can't bludgeon people into changing their feelings.

You can see this in the climate debate where a significant chunk of the population still 'feels' that climate change can't be real despite the overwhelming scientific evidence that it is and manmade. It just doesn't feel right to them. Instead they cling to some very flimsy straws which appear, superficially, to reassure this position – an extreme form of 'confirmation bias'.

My response, Green Jujitsu, is to start at any point where the sustainability agenda and the feelings of the audience overlap. So if you are talking to a climate sceptic, it may be that energy security, local air quality or job creation through the low carbon economy are better starting points than statistical analysis. For engineers, getting them to solve sustainability problems will produce positive feelings about the agenda as they love to solve problems. For health care professionals, finding solutions which save carbon and improve patient care will hit the right button.

So the first principle of employee engagement must be to respect people's feelings. Not just because it is right to do so in a moral sense, but also because it's right to do so in a practical sense.



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23 January 2015

Watch On Demand: 15 Kick Ass Sustainability Ideas for 2015

15 for 2015

If you missed our fab 15 Kick Ass Sustainability Ideas for 2015 on Wednesday, you can catch it by clicking here (viewer download required).

The webinar was a taster for our Green Academy training series. To get full benefit from the session you should download the workbook here and complete it as you watch.


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5 January 2015

Here's to a sustainable 2015!

Goals 2015Happy New Year everyone!

It's the traditional time to set ourselves goals for the year ahead (why we pick the dark, dank days of January for this challenge, I'll never know). As usual, we are totally committed in 2015 to helping you propel your sustainability programme forward, so here are some things you should do right now:

  1. Sign up to the Low Carbon Agenda - full of hints and tips every month, but January's edition will be have some special offers to mark the publication of my fifth book, Accelerating Sustainability using the 80/20 Rule, including free 1 to 1 coaching.
  2. Sign up for the accompanying Accelerating Sustainability using the 80/20 Rule webinar on 28 January to find out how one simple change of mindset can take your sustainability programme to the next level.
  3. Sign up for the Green Academy taster webinar on 21 January: 15 Kick-Ass Sustainability Ideas for 2015 - we'll be inspiring you with some really great ideas from simple tweaks to huge mindset changes.

And don't forget you can always Ask Gareth.

Here's to your sustainability success in 2015!


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9 December 2011

Green Academy Pages Go Live!

Regular readers will have seen posts on the blog here for our Green Academy series of environmental training webinars - dozens of people have taken part at one time or another in 2011 and the feedback has been fantastic. Well now we've completed a successful single cycle of the programme, we've launched new pages here on the website. You can peruse all the sessions and book into those you fancy.

If you haven't come across Green Academy yet, I explain how it works here:

And, wait, there's more!

To celebrate, we've decided to run a Christmas special deal. If you book over the festive period, we'll give you a whopping 33% off the Advanced Series (10 webinars, normal cost £330.00+VAT, deal £220.00+VAT - click here to get the discount) and the Introductory Series (4 webinars, normal cost £150+VAT, deal £100+VAT - click here to get the discount).

We have to receive payment by 6 Jan, so get your skates on!

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16 August 2011

Green Academy September Sessions

Here are the details of the two Green Academy on-line sessions on 7 Sept 2011:

11am BST: Basic level: Get off to a flying start


  • Putting a team together;
  • Gathering data while avoiding ‘paralysis by analysis’;
  • Identifying quick wins in energy, raw materials, waste & recycling, water and transport;
  • Building on initial momentum.

Cost: £45+VAT. To register for the basic level session click here (Paypal)


2pm BST: Advanced level: Green Marketing & Communications


  • Creating a compelling marketing message;
  • Beyond preaching – engaging stakeholders;
  • Avoiding eco-cliches;
  • Avoiding greenwash.

Cost: £45 + VAT. To register for the advanced level session click here (Paypal)


Each session lasts for one hour. You need access to a computer with sound or a computer and a telephone. You will receive a workbook to apply the learning to your organisation prior to the start of the session.

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1 August 2011

Happy Birthday to Us!

Terra Infirma is 4 years old!It is five years to the day that I cast off the chains of an institutional career and set up Terra Infirma. I still remember my outline plan - spend August building a dry stone wall in the garden, start marketing myself in September and hopefully get the first project going in October. In the event the wall took another 18 months to build - half way through the first week the phone rang and I had to put down the stone I was holding, go shower off the dirt and get my suit on for what turned out to be my first client meeting. Exciting times.

The last year hasn't been any less exciting. My second book, the Green Executive has been published, we've launched the Green Academy set of green business webinars and we've landed our first two FTSE 100 clients, which means our strategy of shifting from our early reliance on public funding to large private sector clients is starting to bear real fruit.

Looking forward, we will soon be launching a better registration system for Green Academy, starting to turn the webinar sessions into stand alone learning modules and starting a range of e-books. We are also in negotiation with a number of big name prospective clients. All our other services including this blog and The Low Carbon Agenda monthly bulletin will continue.

So, it just leaves me to thank all our clients, partners, friends, followers, subscribers and workshop participants for another great year. I'm looking forward to meeting more of you (online or offline), so don't be afraid to come and say hello!

All the best,


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7 June 2011

Green Academy July Sessions

From July, Green Academy splits into two streams so there will be two sessions on 6 July:

11:00 BST An Introduction to Green Business - a free taster session covering the business case for sustainability, business and sustainability, a selection of inspiring case studies and some information on The Green Academy. E-mail us to register for the session.

14:00 BST Advanced: Green Products and Services - the sixth in the series covers the power of redesign of products and services. Contents include:

  • Benign by design - the case for changing products and services;
  • Understanding the market.
  • Practical techniques to green your product or service;
  • Advanced innovations (product service systems, virtual products etc);
  • Finding green market niches for your business in the emerging low carbon economy.
  • Inspirational case studies.

The advanced session costs just £45.00 + VAT per person to participate - use the button below to pay by card or Paypal. Contact us to make a BACS payment.

This is just one in our series of 10 advanced stream webinars - you can see the full list and terms and conditions here. All ten cost £330 + VAT - reserve your seat using the button below:

Here's what participants say:

"Gareth's webinars are smart, punchy and thought provoking. His approach shows how sustainability is about achieving commercial advantage and not simply an altruistic gesture. Highly recommended." Graeme Mills, GPM Network Ltd.

"[The webinars] are great value and I would recommend them to both CSR professionals and SME owners." Louise Bateman, GreenWise

"I consider this a must for organisations looking for practical help in improving their sustainability performance." Ted Shann, Wipro

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