David Tebbutt, SmallBizPod blog

It was with a heavy heart that I set off to the London Climate Change Marketplace, part of the Prince’s May Day Summit 2009. I wasn’t looking forward to meeting lots of people selling things and pretending this was good for the environment. And I was dreading bumping into Prince Charles, a man whose carbon footprint must be very ‘interesting’.

I needn’t have worried. Prince Charles was at one of the other May Day events, but his speech was screened at our event too. And the exhibitors I spoke to were pretty genuine people who were more than happy to share their knowledge and insights. And yes, if you wanted, to flog you something.

What was refreshing to me was getting out of the IT box and looking at the subject in the round. Sure, IT can help a lot with addressing sustainability-related actions, but it’s not the only game in town.

I received my invite through a colleague’s husband, Habib Abdullah, the MD of MITIE Pest Control. MITIE is an outsourcing and asset management company. It had the largest stand by far and, over a drink made of apples from Kent and some cheese from Somerset, a representative talked to me about reducing food miles, ethical procurement, waste recycling and reuse and local sourcing.

You might be interested in flicking through MITIE’s online booklet entitled ‘the little book of big ideas‘ for inspirations of your own.

Couldn’t resist stopping by the 3M stand to tease it about swine-flu face-masks. Poor guy nearly hit me. He’d only got four hours sleep because of global press interest. He pointed out that even the most advanced masks have to be thrown away after a single use. And, anyway, you need to be trained to fit them properly in the first place or they’re useless. However, on the subject of energy saving, he did manage to show me how 3M window film can substantially reduce heat gain through windows, thus reducing the air conditioning work load.

Siemens was interesting because it is an industrial company that has moved to IT, rather than an IT company that’s moving into industry. Its services are probably not up your street but the perspective is worth bearing in mind when listening to potential suppliers.

The University of Cambridge and the World Business Council for Sustainable Development has produced (among other things) a neat e-learning tutorial on the business case for sustainable development. It looks like a great way to inculcate an understanding among employees in a fairly enjoyable way. You can download a PowerPoint guided tour if you’re interested.

Then we come to the Prince and the May Day network. During his speech, Prince Charles reported that about 1000 companies have pledged to do something about climate change in their own operations. About half of them are sending their footprint figures to the network and some of these are also sharing their stories with others. The May Day name was chosen because it is an international distress call (derived from m’aider, it seems). And it was chosen because we have very little time (98 months, in the Prince’s view) to ‘take the necessary action’.

To find out what that means, I strongly recommend you look at the May Day Journey. I’m ashamed to say that I knew nothing of this until last week. It is a great mind-focusing exercise. And it’s not all about ‘doing good’, it’s about doing the right things for your business.



Leave a Reply