Monday, March 05, 2007

Carbon Gym

From time to time I check how our foot print is measured and measures up against the average Uk household and person.
Try out the carbongym which works out the amount of CO emissions you put in the atmosphere.

Reassuringly, we are doing about 20% of what the average person does which is a start.

I really enjoyed a sketch on the now show about transport and the fact that many people had added their name to the 10 Downing Street petition against road charges. If you have a chance you can catch up via the podcast or direct from radio 4.

Sally Lever's free newsletter has an interesting article about how to check that your business is sustainable.

If you’ve made the decision to live more sustainably and have left the Rat Race in order to set up in self-employment, it makes sense to incorporate sustainability into the new business plan. That way your business is run in alignment with your interests and values and working in it ultimately leads to a higher level of enjoyment, fulfilment and meaning.

So, what is a “sustainable business”? One official definition goes something like this:

“A Sustainable Business is a constituted organisation that takes full account of its triple bottom line – i.e. managing and contributing to social, environmental and economic improvements in its business practices.”

Simply put, a business’s “triple bottom line” can be expressed in terms of the three Ps – People, Planet, Profit, and, most importantly, in that order. So now, rather than taking the conventional view and running our business primarily for profit, we are running our business primarily for the welfare of society and of the environment as first priorities.

Let’s face it, for most of us there are a host of different ways in which we are capable of earning money, even if some of those ways, we believe, wouldn’t generate “enough” income for our current needs. When we set up our own businesses, hopefully there are reasons other than money and capability that prompt us to do so. These reasons form our Business Purpose and they stem from our Business Values. They are what’s most important to us in our business lives: the non-negotiable parts. Examples of business purposes might be “providing enjoyable education programmes for adults”, “helping others to improve their health”, “enhancing the lives of children/the elderly/new parents”, “making marketing ethical and easy”.

Let’s look at the elements of the triple bottom line in more detail:


Think about all of the people who are involved with your business. Even if you don’t directly employ anyone else, who else do your actions affect? Who else does your business depend on? Your answer might well include your suppliers, your clients, your associates and colleagues. A sustainable business treats all of these people in a way that’s in keeping with its business purpose and sustainability, for example, by employing staff who live locally and sourcing from local suppliers. You could reduce your clients’ needs to travel by providing your products and services local to them rather than centralised wherever possible.


Many of you will be familiar with the term “Reduce, Re-Use, Re-cycle”. Maybe you are not aware that those instructions are stated in order of priority. That is, it is more important for us to reduce our consumption than it is to re-use items and re-using items is more important than re-cycling our waste. So, uppermost in the sustainable business owner’s mind will be minimising the negative impact on the planet of running that business by reducing consumption of energy, fuel, water and toxic substances.


Just because profit has now been relegated to third in the business’s bottom line does not make it any less important as a concept. For a business to be sustainable in the sense of growing and surviving long term it will need to generate a profit (unless it was set up as a not-for-profit organisation.) What the triple bottom line does is to remind us to keep profit generation in perspective with the other elements. With our business accounts, as with our personal finances, if we keep our costs to a minimum and minimise our consumption, the income we need to generate to cover our costs and pay ourselves is reduced.

To help you in your business planning, Sally has produced a “Sustainable Business Checklist."

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