As the UK’s first Climate Neutral Certified accountancy firm, since we set up shop in 2016, we’ve always kept the environment at the forefront of any business decisions that we’ve made. We truly feel that we couldn’t be more committed to reducing the environmental impact of our business – and the businesses we work with – at a time when being socially conscious couldn’t be more critical. But why is sustainability so critical and what are the benefits of a business becoming climate neutral?
Barely 30 years ago, the collective mindset of many businesses and people living day-to-day life was that the world’s resources were endless; gas, coal and oil were bottomless pits of potential that we could continue to tap to our hearts’ content. We couldn’t have been more wrong. Constant use of the planet’s resources with very little forward-thinking where carbon emissions and global warming are concerned has left the earth struggling to breathe, so the options are either pull our heads out of the sand and find new, sustainable ways to live or become extinct.
Before you head out to spend your savings on one final hoorah, hold your horses – there is good news. The world has woken up and is changing. People are becoming more aware of food miles, waste and packaging, recycling and being mindful of energy usage, and crucially business brands are working hard to make a difference. Commitment to the environment is finally very cool and eco-friendly brands are using their positive reputations to inspire more sustainable practices across their industries. Any stronghold in today’s green-thinking marketplace needs companies to put their money where their mouths are and actively contribute to a healthier planet, not just sit about brainstorming about it in meetings.
Better news still, the rise of the climate-conscious company is already well underway – consumers want to spend their hard-earned money on stuff they feel good about and 90% of CEOs now credit sustainability as the key to success (SSIR).
Thinking beyond environmental basics like keeping the heating switched off in the office or using recyclable packaging, companies making a real difference today are now working out long-term strategies for every element of their product or service to be sustainable, employing sustainability staff to oversee this, and publishing reports so that their efforts and results are available for any customer to have a read through at the touch of a button.
UK brands like allplants, a plant-based frozen meal delivery company, and OLIO, an app developed for people and businesses to find homes for food they’re not going to eat, are great examples of entrepreneurs who have found their USP in the spirit of being environmentally aware and have worked hard to create an eco-friendly brand. Why? Apart from saving the world, the power behind these decisions lies with us, the customer.
With scientists from all around the world agreeing that human civilisation is under serious threat in the next 30 years (that’s nothing – 1991 was 30 years ago!) if sustainability isn’t taken seriously, thankfully customers in their multi-millions are committed to spending their cash with eco-friendly companies. Our behaviour has shifted, so if a company fails to show that they’re protecting the planet, they can kiss a massive chunk of their potential market goodbye.
It’s pretty clear that the demand for eco-conscious companies is on the upsurge, but you need to make sure that you’re authentic. Pull it off with dedication and resolve and the benefits are multiple.
Firstly, millennials – the biggest consumer demographic in the world – would absolutely choose to both do business with and work for an environmentally friendly business over a non-sustainable counterpart any day of the week; it’s structurally bound in their DNA. Known as the green generation, get the seal of approval from millennials and you will automatically appeal to the next generation of customers.
Besides securing support from people whose own values reflect those of your business, there are other more practical benefits of being eco-friendly including reduced costs – it’s an outdated myth that becoming more eco involves a massive cash splash and actually, implementing sustainable practices is a move that’s been shown to benefit your bottom line; a more respected brand image by showing that you genuinely care about social and environmental issues and not just profit; and less pressure from regulators – hallelujah, environmental regulators are a now a thing and failure to engage in eco-conscious practices that are simple to implement can incur serious fines and penalties.
Going green has become less of an option and more of a demand – 77% of Brits (Retail Times) alone have switched, avoided or boycotted brands because of their environmental policies – and as a result companies of all sizes across all industries are standing up to do their bit for the planet. We’ve got a long way to go, but some brands are real trailblazers in the fight for a cleaner, healthier world, so here’s a bit of info on our favourites.
Caleb Ulffers, co-founder and CEO of Climate Neutral Certified gym and lifestyle gear company, Haven Athletic says: “We joined Climate Neutral in the first cohort of 30 or so companies before we had our first product on the market because it’s the right thing to do for the planet. As a company, it should be easy to do the right thing and Climate Neutral made this a simple choice. Our intention from the outset was to set a standard for the future and a foundation to build on.
“We plan to continue looking for ways to measure, offset, and reduce our impact on the environment. We believe that in the future this won’t be optional, and all companies will be held accountable by the consumers of the future on the choices they make that have a negative impact on our planet.”
Making the world a better place one pair of shoes at a time, TOMS is one of the most well-known, eco-friendly companies in the world and is committed to sustainability with its every fibre.
Founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie when he was traveling around the world and discovered that a shocking number of children were growing up without shoes, he worked towards solving the problem by launching a for-profit business that promised to donate a pair of shoes to communities in need every time a customer bought a pair. They look after the planet by making shoes and shoeboxes with recyclable and sustainable materials, and also offer clean drinking water, eye services and safe birth kits to communities around the globe.
This UK startup is genius – the founders have invented special paving tiles that convert footsteps into kinetic energy via electromagnetic generators and installed them in spots with high footfall such as shopping centres and transport hubs (including Harrods and Heathrow Airport) in 36 countries. They’re even being used to power a football pitch in Rio de Janeiro’s Morro da Mineira favela. The six LED floodlights surrounding the field are powered by 200 kinetic tiles buried under the AstroTurf, which capture the energy generated by the players’ activity.
Matt Chesebrough, Photographer
A Climate Neutral Certified creative fine art landscape and commercial photographer based in San Francisco Bay, Matt says: “Being climate-conscious is important to me because it’s helping me become a better steward of the planet. The more I learn about the unseen costs associated with my choices helps me to make better ones.
“Additionally, using this knowledge helps to set goals and hold myself accountable for both reducing my impact and investing in offset programs. To me, this is how I can start to do my part to leave the world a little better for future generations.
“My plan for reducing my carbon footprint in 2021 has two parts. First, while travelling I plan to spend fewer nights in hotels by making use of a camper van. I will rely on an in-vehicle power bank for my electronics and use renewables to charge the power bank. Second, I plan to reduce my emissions while commuting to and from my office by walking or cycling a minimum of 15 miles per week.”
Selling more than two million smoothies a week, Innocent’s fruity drinks need little introduction – they’re clearly delicious, and the company has been flying the flag for eco-friendliness from the off.
Founded in Cambridge in 1998, the company buys the fruit for its smoothies through the Rainforest Alliance, which works with farmers to conserve the land’s biodiversity and protect farmworkers’ rights. A relative pioneer, Innocent has been incorporating recycled plastic in its packaging since way back in 2003, gives 10% of its annual profits to charity, and are currently building their very own carbon neutral factory, reducing carbon in every drink they make and are placing them firmly on the path to being completely carbon neutral by 2030.
A brave company from the outset, Bulb launched back in 2014 to compete for a portion of the market against the UK’s leading big six energy providers by offering 100% renewable electricity and carbon-neutral gas, as well as working to dispel the myth that renewable energy is vastly expensive. Their successful mix of excellent customer service, no exit fees and referral incentives has gained the company over 1.5 million members, and they now control around 5% of the UK’s domestic electricity market.
As exemplified by these planet protectors, the message is clear: go green or go home. It’s time to build an affinity with the massive amount of consumers who care more about the environment and what they’re doing to the world around them. Joining the ranks of environmentally friendly businesses isn’t just an option anymore, it’s quickly becoming a crucial part of achieving any kind of long-lasting success.