The myth of the environment and recession…
…is that the environment and sustainability can only be addressed when there is plenty of money about.
Let’s be blunt – the current economic situation is good for the environment – we are driving less, insulating our houses more, and are likely to buy less tat with which to disappoint our loved ones on Christmas Day. But saving the world shouldn’t be about living in poverty.
On a business level, there are two proven ways of surviving an economic downturn. One is to cut unnecessary costs, the other is to innovate.
It constantly staggers me that companies immediately try to cut staff costs. OK, if you have far too many people standing about doing nothing, then you should have already got rid of them. But if you cut your workforce, you cut your ability to respond to the inevitable upturn when the recession ends. The same people see waste and utility costs as a fixed cost of doing business which is complete nonsense. And with the true cost of waste being about 10 times the cost of disposal, there are massive cost savings to be made which will make your business more productive, not less. We found an average of £175k pa savings in 26 businesses in a raft of industries – and you don’t have to make redundancy payments for waste.
Turning to innovation – it is well known that markets for green products are expanding fast and, in some – say white goods or baby food – the eco- end of the market dominates the ‘conventional’ by a factor of 3-4:1. Other sectors will follow, if they get the quality and labelling issues right more than anything else. Is it a surprise that the new electric Mini has just been launched when the big 3 US car companies are staring the grim reaper in the face?
The sustainability agenda does have the scope to help a business through the economic downturn. It’s a pity the myth makers don’t understand that!