Part 1 – Our journey to a sustainable future. An holistic view of ‘green’ enterprise.
Whatever your views on climate change, you can’t help but notice that sustainable enterprise is a current mega-trend affecting organisations across the globe. Sustainable enterprise has become “de rigueur” creating a drive for decarbonisation, renewable energy and sustainable supply chains. Environmental responsibility is fast changing business and societal behaviour accompanied by an increasing use of AI and data to manage climate and environmental risk.
It can all seem so overwhelming, can’t it?
As a business, where once we just had our brand and communication strategy to worry about, now it feels like we have to save the world as well.
So, let’s take a deep breath and calmly explore what being a sustainable enterprise actually means and the many opportunities that we feel it can entail.
Put simply, a sustainable organisation is one that has minimal negative impact, and ideally positive effects, on the global or local environment, community, society, or economy. This means your company will have the strategy and actions in place to eliminate all the adverse environmental and social impacts caused by your operations and business practice.
This strategy does not just involve the environment. There are three pillars that make up corporate sustainability: the environmental pillar, the social responsibility pillar, and the economic pillar.
It may sound a momentous feat, but transforming into a sustainable business could be as simple as finding new ways of conserving energy or choosing a renewable energy provider; reducing your CO2 emissions and then tracking and offsetting them; reducing waste and increasing your reuse and recycling quantities; reducing your water withdrawals, or sustaining biodiversity wherever you can.
We think it’s just about making good choices and doing what you can.
As well as the obvious ethical benefits of running a sustainable business, there are also a host of advantages for every conscientious ‘green’ company. For example, a Unilever study found that 33 percent of consumers want to buy from brands “doing social or environmental good.” The rise of environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment criteria means that a sustainable business is also more attractive to investors. Four out of five now state that sustainability or social responsibility factors affect their decisions. As governments continue to roll out regulations and corporate development goals (SDGs), by implementing sustainable solutions early, you’ll be well ahead of the game concerning compliance further down the track. Sustainable businesses also profit from adopting new business models that win customers, increase brand loyalty, and uncover opportunities to decrease costs. Today’s employees are also clearly seeking employment with sustainable and socially responsible organisations so talent acquisition is heightened. Last but certainly not least, sustainable practices can reduce consumption, optimise efficiency and improve revenue growth. Yes, there may be increased investment at the outset, but long-term gains usually justify it.
Part 2 – Simple Strategies That Can Mean The World.
Let’s discuss how you can set about solidifying clear and attainable sustainability goals and formulate a strategy to achieve them. This may again sound daunting but remember, sustainable business strategies are unique to every organisation. There is no set blueprint, so you have agency to devise yours to suit your brand and align with your own vision.
This could mean: –
Using sustainable materials within the manufacturing process
Optimising sustainable supply chains and introducing circularity into your product lifecycle to reduce CO2 emissions
Relying on renewable energy sources to power facilities. Most energy companies have a renewable energy option.
Sponsoring education funds to a local community project, or donating time or material funds to local charities and groups.
Recycling or repurposing products which can be easily done if you work with a recycling partner such as Grundon Waste Management which is who we have teamed up with.
Tracking carbon emissions with a carbon calculator, for instance carbonfootprint.com and offsetting them by being a part of a climate project such as those run by Ecologi.
The first stage of creating any sustainable business strategy is to asses the problem and clearly define objectives. It’s important that staff and stakeholders are included in all these discussions and align with your vision. Once your top challenges and opportunities have been identified, you can prioritise actions, and measure your outcomes against your goals.
You may also find it helpful to establish an effective mission statement outlining your company’s focus. Again, share this with your staff and stakeholders so that everyone is on the same page and understands the company’s objectives. As we’ve found here at Insite, teamwork is the key to making any strategy work.
Remember, the goal of any sustainable business strategy is to create a positive impact on the environment and society, whilst also benefiting shareholders. Sustainable business strategies are about driving companies to success – you can’t help the world by going under.
If you are still unsure where to start, just ask yourself which areas are the ones where your mission can have the quickest and greatest impact. Focus your attention here.
Don’t be afraid to reach out for support too. A trade body or industry working group that offers training is a great place to start, or consider partnering with an organisation that has a similar vision to your own. These are times where business is more about co-operation than competition, and by working together with those who have a similar mission, you’ll help drive progress and enhance credibility.
Still feeling the challenge is too great? Let’s give you a little background about how we did it.
Part 3 – A company paving the way
Insite began seizing the opportunity of transforming into a successful green organisation way back in 2019 when we started weaving sustainability into our business DNA.
We have achieved the globally recognised sustainability accreditation, ISO14001 for the last five years and in July we became the first company to achieve the Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA) Tier 5 Sustainability Accreditation, the highest possible accolade for sustainability in the event industry. Insite have green thinking embedded into our company’s core and as a small business we have successfully balanced key differentiators with both environmental and market demands.
Owner Chris Berrisford, takes a pragmatic view. “I’ve always taken an holistic stance on sustainability. The basic foundations seem very straight forward – cut down on your energy use and waste production, use renewable energy and recyclable materials and track and offset your emissions. And that’s just what we’ve done. Yes, like everybody, we’ve still got a lot more work to do, but we’re doing our best and will continue to make incremental changes. It’s all about doing what you can, when you can and making conscious decisions. Even the smallest of changes can be a starting point for large-scale impact. For instance, we implemented a ‘last person in the office’ training to ensure that the last employee to leave the building checked that lights, equipment and heating were all turned off. A simple thing, but it resulted in a big difference to our energy consumption.”
Here are our focus points in a little more detail:-
Procuring energy from renewable sources and using as little as possible through the use of energy efficient technology and insulation.
Recycling products to achieve minimal waste – Insite have sent nil to landfill for over a year now.
Offsetting fuel and transportation emissions.
Designing product ranges that use recyclable/reusable materials and water based inks.
Tracking and offsetting all Scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions achieving carbon neutral status.
Continuing to research and invest in the best green technologies possible.
Continually investing in staff health and development by running a wellness programme alongside all staff H&S and sustainability training.
Endeavouring to support the local community and specific charities where possible.
Including staff and stakeholders in all company discussions and keeping the entire team up to date with Insite’s sustainability journey.
We’ve also been working closely with the Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA), a the trade body representing suppliers and contractors in the UK’s event industry. ESSA support their members with the provision of business essentials such as access to health and safety education and business sustainability training. The aforementioned ESSA Sustainability Module is an independent verification of a company’s sustainability performance, providing credibility and recognition in the field of sustainability. The module takes an in-depth look at a companies’ sustainability policies, management and processes and marks it against a set criterion and requires annual renewal. The criteria has been formed in line with ISO standards, current industry standards, the net-zero events initiative and The Event Industry Alliance cross-associations comprehensive sustainability commitments framework.
Josh Taylor, ESSA H&S Manager says:
“Seeing companies like Insite Graphics embrace ESSA membership and dive into the training, certifications, and working groups it offers is wonderful. They’re not only adopting a strong focus on health and safety and sustainability but also sharing a wealth of knowledge and innovative ideas with fellow members. Insite Graphics’ active participation in these initiatives is making a meaningful contribution towards a safer and more sustainable future in our ever-evolving industry.”
Having now explored exactly what a sustainable business is and how a simple sustainability strategy can be initiated, it might be a good idea to introduce the concept of the “triple bottom line” which refers to how the actions of an organisation may impact profit, people and the planet. We’ll explore this more in Part 4 before wrapping it all up by talking about the shared value opportunity and how sustainability is helping to create a new business paradigm.
Part 4 — Sustainability and changing the business paradigm
In this final blog, we discuss the role that sustainability is taking in shaping the new business paradigm. We discuss why being a sustainable business doesn’t just mean reducing or offsetting your negative impact on your environment, but also entails a new ‘infinite’ mindset that challenges the traditional concepts of business success.
As a starter for ten, let’s talk about another way to understand a business’s sustainability activities by introducing a concept known as the triple bottom line. The triple bottom line states that businesses should focus on their social and environmental impact instead of just their monetary profit, which is the standard “bottom line”. This overlap between social and environmental progress and financial gain is called the shared value opportunity. The shared value opportunity creates a direct correlation for a company being seen to “do good” with “doing well”. This is why many organisations are now combining their sustainability strategy with a mission to create shared value as well.
Before going further, it might be helpful to explore the drivers behind this new, transformational shift in the business mindset and why sustainability is such an integral part of it. As we know, there are many environmental viewpoints about our current climatic situation and it is not the purpose of this blog to discuss their various merits. However, in order to gain perspective, it may prove beneficial to take a leap back to 1972 when climate discussion first began with the Gaia Hypothesis. This hypothesis was proposed by independent scientist, James Lovelock MBE and centred around the concept that all lifeforms are part of one single living entity – the planet Earth or as Lovelock called it, Gaia. Furthermore, it was proposed that this entity is made up of a complex, self-regulating system which seeks to maintain a physical and chemical environment optimal for life. This environment has evolved through a feedback system operated unconsciously by all plants and animals, leading to a homeostasis that enables organisms to thrive. If we embrace this concept, it becomes clear that human beings, do not exist in isolation, but share a symbiotic relationship with everything else on the planet and everything we do will have an effect on others. Yes, our technological advancement has vastly improved overall standards of living for much of the human species, but the outfall from this advancement has had a hugely detrimental effect on the planet and many of the species we share it with. It seems that this is at the root of today’s concerns.
Whether you believe in climate change or not, the litany of waste and toxic discharge created as a byproduct of human ‘development’ is clear for all to see. Here at Insite we have a clean operations process – no harmful waste, no toxic chemicals and no VOC’s. Re-designing how we do business and working towards a common goal greater than just our lifestyles, seems to be the simple solution.
This working towards a greater goal, is a mindset shift explored in, ‘The Infinite Game’ by Simon Sinek. Sinek introduces the idea of two different games – the Finite Game and the Infinite Game. Finite games have clear rules, well-defined beginnings and endings, and clear winners and losers. Infinite games have blurred rules, no defined winners and losers and its players can decide to change the rules on how they play the game at anytime.
Sinek classifies businesses as Infinite Games and if we are to play them well they must have three core foundations :-
they should advance a higher cause.
they should protect employees, customers, and the environment,
they should generate profits to continue its success for as long as possible.
A key principle of the infinite mindset is “to exist to further a Just Cause.” This Just Cause could be a clear vision of the future that isn’t just limited to the organisation. This provides increased emotion, motivation, and purpose which ultimately creates both customer and employee loyalty and business longevity.
Sinek points out that trouble arises because many business leaders are still playing the Infinite Game using a finite mindset. It’s time that leaders shift their focus from ‘winning’ every quarter to building resilience and longterm interest.
To round up, we are living through the most phenomenal of times. It can feel totally overwhelming, or it can be seen as a time fore overwhelming opportunity where businesses have the opportunity to be a regenerative presence. This is the stance that Insite Graphics has decided to take. Our current challenges have created new and exciting dimensions of doing business, creating a shift in mindset and extending vision. A journey of a thousand miles begins with just one step so even the smallest of changes can create a hugely positive impact and build momentum for further transformation.