Introduction to my environmental and sustainability journey

I wanted to share with you a recent experience that I’ve had as a result of spending a lot of time working on the principles and values that define and communicate what our growing company really stands for. Getting to the route of our own uniqueness, balancing this against what would be desirable and authentic, to communicate to the rest of the world.

The majority of it flowed easily onto the page and was confirmed as real when I asked everyone in the office to anonymously sum up their feelings about the company and what we stood for. The collective vision, the principles and values of our people and the company really aligned.  We feel we are the company of integrity, honesty, empathy, inclusiveness and we are a real positive force, in our own small way.

I could truly say we do go about our business with good humour. Always trying to disrupt the market and finding better ways.  Being flexible with each other and our customers. Utterly committed to growth and improving ourselves, to finding innovation. Always looking to give more to our charitable partners. There’s certainly a lot to be proud of.

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But there was one area that really didn’t feel right! I had written sustainability as a value.  Now, we’re a Carbon Trust accredited business and sure our focus is on products that promote sustainability. But could I really look myself in the mirror and say that I/we lived and breathed sustainability as a value. Well, the answer was no.

So, I began to sort of ponder this and it weighed quite heavy.  There was a bit of a backdrop to all this. I’d been arguing strongly against all the negative PR and smear campaigns that were being put out by the paper towel industry. Obviously, hand dryers are our core product and they’ve affected significantly the sales of paper towels.  

They’ve had such a positive environmental impact, hand dryers, reducing so much waste. So many vehicles off the road, so much unnecessary manufacturing, so much unnecessary landfill, so much unnecessary machinery and trees being cut down. It really is a very powerful force for good.    

So, I was arguing very strongly against all this negative PR because I really felt that it was a great injustice trying to influence consumer behaviour towards something very negative for society as a whole.

I sort of reflected on this and I kind of feared that this had been more driven, if I was truly truthful with myself, out of how I felt this might affect my business, my ability to increase the opportunities for the people that we work with and to carry on the success story. 

I mean luckily it hasn’t really had any impact. But what came out of this was again; was I being really true to my values by arguing this environmental case when really, I wasn’t adopting that way of life as a person?

It was at that point that a friend sent through an article about the irreversibility of climate change and the catastrophic effects this was going to have on millions of lives. 12 years was all the time we had to sort this out.

I have young children. Children at an age of absolute purity and naivety, who hopefully in my lifetime would become parents themselves.  I have a responsibility to care a little more than I had done up until this point now that there was some sort of legacy. Maybe you don’t think about this in your 20’s and younger, before you have children. But really these things are very important.

So here it is, the beginning of a journey. I’m now going to make a lifelong commitment to being a better citizen of the world. A person who cares a little bit more about the future of his planet.  I think there are a lot of us at my stage of life, who’ve kind of just sort of let the rumblings of the scientists and environmentalists go on. But perhaps not really changed out habits particularly.

So, you know here I am just a 40 - year old, ordinary, Northernish bloke who likes generally to take life easy. I’m not your stereotypical environmentalist. But I’m hoping that I can engage a few people. Maybe a few people who know a bit more about this can help me with some tips and ideas. To see what I can practically do as a business owner and as a father to reduce my immediate carbon footprint.

I want to leave no stone unturned and hopefully at the end of it make some changes that will be really practical and lasting.

So next time I’m writing a blog, I’ll be jotting down some ideas as to what I can do. Then I’m going to investigate the practicalities of doing this and try and give everyone a picture of exactly what’s possible and what can be achieved.

What’s going to work for you and what isn’t and give you a bit of a real-life experience, rather than just telling you to do this, that or the other.  Let’s try and make it a bit more real and take people on a practical journey and hopefully we can all make some positive changes.

Andy needs your tips. Let us know in the comments what you have been doing so that we can look at trying them out as a team.

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Written by: Andrew Cameron

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