Sustainable Futurist, Publisher, Editor and Journalist, Jim McClelland is also a regular Speaker and Chair on the events circuit, Strategic Media Consultant and the Curator at sustmememagazine.com. His interests include: Clean + Green, CSR, Built Environment, Smart Cities and Swarm Theory.
New writing… My latest piece for The Hub – the award-winning content platform curated by Mitsubishi Electric – looks at the declaration of a Climate Emergency and what it might mean for the construction industry, in particular. From France and Argentina, via Tuscany and Québec, to New York City and Scarborough, an ever-lengthening list of nations, states, cities, towns, councils and jurisdictions are officially declaring an Emergency and supporting the climate movement. Together, these 900-plus governments in 18 countries around the world represent a combined global community of more than 200 million people. Please click the link to read the post in full and learn more about why… ‘We are all in the clmate business, now!‘
GUEST BLOG: Sustainability: The S-Word… Love it or hate it, do you still use it… appropriately?
In this SustMeme Guest Post, the word ‘sustainability’, its origins and usage are discussed – plus, its relevance today and credibility ultimately disputed – by Robert Blood, founder of SIGWATCH, which tracks NGO campaigns to help business monitor reputational risk and predict emerging issues.
RB: Orange is the new black, and sustainable is the new green. Except that the term ‘sustainable’, coined by the Club of Rome movement to argue for an economy that does not use up the planet’s resources faster than they can be replenished, has now been stretched well past the already elastic limits of its predecessor, ‘environmentally friendly’.
Sustainability has become the value of choice for marketers. No self-respecting food or consumer-goods maker can promote its products without including on the packaging the word ‘sustainable’, preferably in a delicate green or brown serif font.
Moreover, sustainable seems only marginally invoked to draw attention to the environmentally positive attributes of the product’s ingredients or manufacture. Rather, it is put there to confirm the moral superiority of those that buy it. Never mind that their act of consumption is likely at odds with what sustainability is meant to be all about. A word intended to persuade us to consume less, ends up being used to encourage us to consume just as much as before, only more expensively.
Advocacy groups must share some of the blame for the increasing vagueness of the once precise term they helped to popularise. From the outset, environmental campaigners used the term ‘sustainability’ to examine how things are made and especially how they are grown– minimising man-made inputs and pesticides, preserving soil health, and so forth. They still tend to use it that way. Then development NGOs used ‘sustainable’ to embrace non-environmental concerns, such as income fairness and job creation in developing countries. For human rights groups, a ‘sustainable product’ became one whose maker ensured that workers in their supply chains were properly treated and had their labour rights respected. Animal rights advocates adopted it to argue for higher welfare standards and promote a vegan dress code. Climate activists calling-out products that create excessive carbon emissions, use it to distinguish those that don’t.
The result of this definition creep is that the word ‘sustainable’ has become loaded with the myriad concerns and demands of thousands of campaigners with quite different agendas. Businesses, under pressure from these same groups to show that they are listening, have adopted their language. Unsurprisingly they have then made it work for them, in their own way.
The word ‘sustainable’ finally lost all meaning for me when I read a statement from a company claiming, seemingly with a completely straight face, that it was sustainable – because it turned a profit. This is technically true – lossmaking is not sustainable, unless you are state-owned, or a tech start-up – but, surely, it misses the point?
Do you know of some inappropriate or questionable uses of the word’sustainable’? Please Tweetus at @SustMeme and share your examples!
To trial SIGWATCH for free and receive its daily NGO campaigning intelligence, plus access its databases and trend forecasting tools, visit the company website here. You can also Follow Robert Blood on Twitter at: @SIGWATCH
Would you like to Guest Blog for SustMeme?Click here for more info…
GUEST BLOG: You might be surprised to discover some of the more unexpected items that can actually be recycled, if you know where and how…
When we consider recycling, we usually think of paper, glass and cans. However, recycling is continually evolving. In this SustMeme Guest Post, Rebecca Currier, Marketing Manager at CarTakeBack, the largest scrap car recycling network in the UK, reveals lots of other unexpected items we can actually recycle. It shows the huge progress made over the past few years with recycling and helping to sustain our planet. Plus, just because it can’t be recycled now, doesn’t mean we won’t be able to soon.
RC: Every year in Britain, we throw away over 22M tons of rubbish – and the majority of our unwanted goods end up in landfill. We know we can recycle our plastic bottles, tin cans and old papers, but what unexpected items can we also recycle to reduce thisimpact?
In fact, there are so many other everyday objects that can be reused and recycled…
Furthermore, by optimising opportunities to recycle, we can also take steps to cut carbon emissions, save energy and reduce pollutants into our environment.
So, join the war against climate change today — ask yourself, have you got any of these lying around the house that you could recycle… ?
Wine disappears surprisingly easily! However the same can’t be said for the cork in the bottles. Corks won’t break down in landfill, but you can recycle them with Recorked UK.
When you do so, they can re-sell them – and for each donated cork, they give a percentage of profit to nominated charities and also provide free corks to schools for arts and crafts.
Even the best vehicles come to the end of their life. Did you know you can recycle your car… and get paid to do so? CarTakeBack gives you the best price for your scrap car, their licensed recycling centres safely remove all harmful materials from it and re-use or recycle up to a whopping 95% of the car.
‘Donate, Recycle, Transform’ – Vision Aid Overseas recycle donated eyeglasses so they can provide affordable eye care in isolated communities. Their incredible work reaches the poorest people in need of eye care.
One peddle turn at a time, Re-Cycle change lives by sending bikes to people in Africa who desperately need them. They recycle UK bikes and send them to rural communities – in some parts, it can take up to 4 hours to get to school or to a water source. Re-Cycle have helped to improve school attendance by 30%.
We’re always upgrading our phones to the latest gadget. But what happens to all your old phones? There’s usually a whole drawer full at home. If no-one wants them, most charities accept donated old phones.
Terracycle and Colgate have partnered so we can recycle oral care products and packaging. This also directly helps those in need too, you can redeem points you collect into financial donations for your chosen charity or school.
When tennis balls can take no more hits and they’ve lost their pressure, they end up in landfill. However, Recycaball is a not-for-profit and they recycle them. What’s more, you can even get paid 25p for each one you recycle.
Your festive and fairy lights are WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment), so can’t just go into your normal black bin. They can actually be recycled, though, at your local household waste recycling centre. Some authorities across the UK even collect them from you.
GUEST BLOG: Eco-conscious consumers are cutting plastic, but confused about how they can help most…
When it comes to recycling, do you have the best of intentions, but not always the information or knowledge to match? Are you an unwitting polluter? In this SustMeme Guest Post, Yanyan Ji, SVP Marketing at Gazelle, a known leader in electronic waste, talks us through the findings of a representative survey of British consumers, which explored their environmental beliefs and lifestyle behaviours, plus, in some cases, the disconnect between the two…
YJ:New research finds 83% of Britons are doing more than ever to cut the amount of plastic they use and throw away. Women are leading this plastic-cutting charge with 90% saying their desire to use less is higher than ever.
However, the survey, which was carried out by the phone-recycling company, Gazelle, also found that over 35 million Brits (57% of those surveyed) are still risking dangerous chemicals leaching into the ground and contaminating our soils and waterways, by throwing away electronic gadgets such as old phones.
The ‘Attenborough effect’ as it’s becoming known is in evidence. Eight out of ten people (81%) who have watched shows like Blue Planet and Climate Change: The Facts say that the programmes have made them re-evaluate their behaviour and consider the environment more.
For example, when at the supermarket, 67% of shoppers now consider environmental factors when choosing what to buy, rather than selecting products solely based on price.
Yet despite Brits’ noble intentions, eight out of ten (81%) of us say that they want to do more to help the environment, but feel confused about what can and cannot be reused or recycled.
Over half (57%) of those surveyed admit to having put a phone, laptop, tablet, charger, or other electrical item in the household bin in the last year. And on average, just one third of us (34%) have recycled our phones or tablets.
Well intentioned, but ultimately ill-informed Brits tend to go online to find out how to reduce their impact on the environment, with nearly 9 in 10 Brits saying that would consult the internet on specific eco-advice.
It’s been estimated that only 15-20 percent of all e-waste is recycled, and the rest ends up in landfill. Our latest research suggests the cause of that isn’t consumers being unwilling to change their behaviour — rather, they don’t always know what to do.
When asked what they recycled, the top ten items were found to be:
Plastic bottles: 92 %
Cans: 88 %
Newspapers and magazines: 86 %
Cardboard: 86 %
Glass bottles: 85 %
Hard plastic containers: 70 %
Batteries: 59 %
Aerosols: 56 %
Mobile phones and tablets: 34 %
Televisions: 26 %
Here at Gazelle, we’re hoping to play our part by making it clearer and easier than ever for people to trade in old phones, get instant payment, and avoid contributing to e-waste in landfill. Our 26 kiosks across the UK will even take phones that are beyond repair, and responsibly recycle them, diverting them from landfill.
Smart. Simple. Rewarding.
More information on Gazelle, what it does to reduce e-waste, plus how to locate a kiosk nearby in the UK, can be found on the company’s website: https://uk.gazelle.com/
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New writing... Pleased to say I have had another article published in The Times newspaper, as part of a special Raconteur report on the Future of Procurement.
The piece explores how workers are often the victims when there are gaps between legal and ethical procurement. Figures from the International Labour Organization (ILO), released most recently in 2017, revealed that more than 40 million people worldwide were in modern slavery in 2016, including around 25 million in forced labour. Of those in forced labour, some 16 million were being exploited in the private sector. Furthermore, there were more than 152 million estimated victims of child labour, almost half of whom were aged between 5 and 11.
The heat is on, however. Businesses nowadays have a lot to lose if they neglect their responsibilities and the lines between profit and social conscience are no longer so easily defined. Brands are playing with fire when it comes to ethical procurement and those that muddy transparency, frustrate traceability and neglect communications get burned.
To read the article in full, complete with expert insights, comment and analysis, please click here: