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The climate chap: Sustainability is the key

5 Sept, 2022


SteveGreen-134My favourite three words that I frequently hear on the news are sustainability, iconic and exclusive. So it’s time to look into what “sustainability” is all about and how it impacts the climate challenge we all face.

Sustainability is defined as “meeting our own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

Adopting sustainable practices, whether large or small, can have significant impacts in the long run. For example, if every office worker in the United Kingdom used one less staple a day by using a reusable paper clip, 120 tonnes of steel would be saved in one year. More than 90 percent of global consumers surveyed say they want companies to address social and environmental issues.

Whereas sustainability is most commonly viewed as a business imperative, it applies to any organisation providing products or services. So what are the benefits to businesses becoming sustainable? Greater rewards as measured in cost savings, lower risks, supply chain security, access to new markets, customer loyalty and overall brand value. Ninety-eight percent of businesses who used sustainability standards reported sales and marketing related benefits. These include an improved reputation (60 percent), improved profitability (53 percent), lower costs (30 percent), and increased production (30 percent).

Financial organisations have been to the fore in adopting sustainable practices, invariably ensuring that they no longer invest in companies associated with pollution, alcohol, gambling, mining, weaponry, tobacco, alcohol or sex, therefore endeavouring to avoid both personal and environmental harm.

Sustainability also covers the trend to recycle and repair broken products instead of “trips to the tips”. Legislating for businesses to stock electronic parts and offer a repairs service is motivating, but may add to costs and limit the range of products sold.

Let’s take a look at some neat local sustainable examples.

The Warehouse
I believe that The Warehouse is doing a fine job in providing quality and highly cost-effective products. They have significantly upgraded many of their stores, expanded their product ranges, and the service I have received has always been first-class.

They promote themselves as “becoming NZ’s most sustainable company” by offering better products, less waste, providing greater care, and pursuing a healthier planet. They also provide excellent support for the Forever Project, an online journal of environmental news generated by Stuff.

If you purchased one of their new kettles ($11), toasters ($12) or bathroom scales ($10), invariably with a one year warranty, it will inevitably be cheaper to buy a new one instead of getting it repaired. I look forward to them powering their stores with rooftop solar panels, and minimising the considerable emissions due to shipping most of their products from China. However sustainability is a journey, not a destination.

A super Kiwi “not for profit” investment company, and a highly sustainable business. One hundred percent owned by the Simplicity Charitable Trust they donate 15 percent of their fees to charities. They have pledged to fund a native tree for each Simplicity member with

Trees That Count just receiving $234,000 to plant an additional 36,000 native trees and keep tracking the growing number of Simplicity members.

Sustainable Kaipara
Our very own local success story. An unstoppable movement of Kaipara locals working together to protect our precious place. Perhaps best known for the introduction of innovative composting services to residents and businesses throughout Kaipara, they aim to protect our precious place, the clean air, the bountiful oceans, the towering forests and fertile soils that sustain us all. Some of their programs are now being adopted nation-wide, and at a minimum please enrol for their super newsletters via their website sustainablekaipara.org.

Finally a word of warning. Some companies promote their sustainability whereas the reality may be somewhat different. “Greenwashing” is when a company purports to be environmentally conscious for marketing purposes but actually isn't making any notable sustainability efforts. Sadly some oil companies promote their investment in renewable energy whilst still drilling for more oil.

The US government has subsidised the “emission friendly” fruit and vegetable industries to the tune of US$17 million last year, but subsidised the alarming meat and dairy industries US$38 billion! So when spending your hard earned money it’s worth checking the sustainability of the supplier.

More than 90 percent of global consumers surveyed say they want companies to address social and environmental issues.

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