Companies and SD

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        Some companies are clearly leading the way by making statements about the issues, declaring new policies and embarking on major initiatives.              

Large Organisations

The following companies are doing interesting work and showing leadership on sustainable development. Those that are underlined have made statements that are summarised on a new page entitled Statements on SD. Their web sites provide interesting information that is changing all the time. Some company environmental reports are accessible from Tomorrow Magazine or from their web site. Underlined companies have a fuller statement on their views and policies on a separate page - click to see these.

Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs)

Several smaller organisations, some very small, are showing the way by doing new and interesting things, often starting out with commitment to the principles that move their business towards sustainability and help their community at the same time. These stories are often hard to find usually with no web site. The examples are listed below:

The detail follows here:

Beacon Press. Mark and Wendy Fairbrass founded The Beacon Press about 20 years ago and moved to their present site in Sussex, England in the late 1980s. They employ 85 people and are regarded as world leaders on environmental management in the printing industry because they have devised and implemented many advanced practices which have won awards. Their environmental management system involves target setting, measuring achievements against those targets, publishing results and having them independently verified.  They have also created Pureprint, a process that is alcohol and water free, so that their customers can be assured of a printing process that is better for the environment. Managing for the Environment, their first formal environment report can be ordered by email and more information is on their web site. Mark Fairbrass says that constant staff education, now being extended to customers and the community, is an essential component of the programme. Their public relations programme has enabled them to become influential in the printing industry and their high environmental standards have undoubtedly led to orders from large organisations, many of which are household names.

Co-drive, Chapel Allerton, Leeds is a car sharing scheme set up by ten men and women who live within 2 miles of each other. Linda Strudwick, a director of Co-drive, says the scheme has proved very successful since it started in August 1998 with one car. The motivation for the scheme is to reduce people's dependence on cars because they are concerned about the environment. A Renault Clio is available for hire among the members and costs 1.20 per hour and 15p a mile. Five members of the scheme have now sold their own cars, each saving up to 2,000 per year. The scheme, which is now ready for expansion with a second vehicle and more members, is approved by Transport 2000. [Source: Daily Mail 6 February 1999, p29]

Combined Landfill Projects (CLP). David FitzHerbert is a green entrepreneur who founded Combined Landfill Projects, a company operating in the UK that has 11 landfill schemes and has won government approval for a further 17 schemes. These schemes draw methane off council refuse sites to fuel small generators which produce electricity that is fed into the national grid. Mr FitzHerbert expects to provide sufficient electricity for 100,000 homes. The business is profitable and performance is expected to justify flotation on the London Stock Exchange. [Source: Guardian, 20 October, 1998, p24]

Conversion Centre Ltd provides professional services in e-commerce systems integration, Millennium Compliance and Software Migration and Consulting Services in VMS and Project Management. Their e-commerce newsletter can be obtained from them on request from their web site at http://www.conversion-centre.co.uk/.

The Environmental Transport Association (ETA) competes successfully with the AA and the RAC to provide an excellent breakdown service for car drivers and for cyclists. They campaign for a sustainable transport system in many different ways including the ETA Green Transport Week, which takes place each June, and the national Car Free Day (8 June 1999) - check their web site for the dates. Their press conference for the ETA Green Transport Week in 1999 took place with journalists staying at their own desks - it was a teleconference. The ETA award winning web site is worth a regular visit, but in addition if you drive a car or cycle why not join the ETA breakdown service - and support an organisation that takes a responsible attitude to motoring?

Grameen Bank. Yunus, Muhammad, is the founder of the Grameen Bank, Bangladesh which now employs 12,000 people, has 1,112 branches and meets 2,300,000 borrowers face to face every week on their doorsteps. It all began when Muhammad Yunus met Sufia Begum, a woman in her twenties, who was making stools from plaited bamboo which she bought from the people to whom she sold her stools at the end of the day, making a profit of one penny per stool. Muhammad, a teacher at the time, with help from his students collected the names of 42 people in the neighbourhood in similar situations. He worked out that if he lent them a total of 17 between all of them they would be able to escape the clutches of the usurers and sell the product of their labours for the best market price, earning a better living. Muhammad lent the money but soon realised that this was a personal, emotional response and that an institutional solution was required and this led to the founding of the Grameen Bank. Borrowers have to prove how poor they are, not disclose their ability to provide security against a loan. Experience has shown that they are better at repaying their loans! [Source: Guardian Review 31 October 1998, but see also Banker to the Poor, by Muhammad Yunus and Alan Jolis, published by Aurum Press, and available from Guardian Culture Shop, 250 Western Avenue, London W3 6EE.]

GreenNet is an Internet Service provider (email) and has a large, well-indexed web site that provides information about all GreenNet's activities and lists a great many other sites under several headings.

Hammett, Steve and Susan run a tree-friendly recycled stationery business by mail order, established in 1983. They not only run a successful business but grow their own food, keep goats and hens in an holistic, organic system, and reuse all waste in a regeneration cycle. As they say "the way we live and work matters both to us and the planet". They can be contacted by email, have their own web site and look after the Resurgence web site.

HDRA, The Henry Doubleday Research Association, Europe's foremost organic gardening advisory group, is based at Ryton (near Coventry, England Tel: 01203 303517). They have established the Heritage Seed Library that has over 800 varieties of seeds which are distributed free to HDRA members. These seed species are not recognised by the European Union so they cannot be sold legally. To preserve the diversity of plant species HDRA has devised this method of free distribution - which could prove invaluable as other species develop resistance to pests.

Holden Meehan are independent financial advisers based in Bristol with an office in central London. They offer broadly based financial advice but have specialised in ethical investment and publish An Independent Guide to Ethical and Green Investment Funds; the seventh edition is due to be published in autumn 1998. More information can be obtained by email or soon from their web site.

Indigo Development is a consultancy founded by Ernest Lowe in the USA specialising in Industrial Ecology and Eco-industrial Parks - see their web site.

MB Recycling was established in early 1997 by Vanessa Morgan at Poulton-le Fylde, Lancashire. The business specialises in recovering copper cores from electrical cable, and the recycling of the plastic cable sheath is planned as soon as she can afford to buy the relevant machinery. Vanessa is now recognised as by British Telecommunications Plc as an approved contractor and she has secured a deal to provide containers on site for waste electrical cable with the company which runs all Lancashire tips and landfill dumps. (Source: Guardian 25 Aug 98 p23).

Morton, Jenny, her husband and their seven children live on an eight acre smallholding on St Martin's, the Isles of Scilly. They grow most of their own food and educate their children themselves using their land as a significant source of learning.  (Source: Resurgence No 190, p 42)

Naturesave Policies Limited sell green insurance of every kind and can be contacted by email or visit their web site

Organic Options. Chris and John Gunson bought Organic Options, a shop in Leominster specialising in organic food, having worked as successful management consultants. They decided in 1996 that they wanted their lifestyle to reflect their values more strongly.   The shop is doing very well but they both still work part-time using their own specific consulting skills. They can be contacted by email.

Purbeck Wood Crafts. Bruno & Rebecca Charron decided to leave their different lucrative salaried employment and set up Purbeck Wood Crafts in Dorset, England in 1995, even though neither had any formal training in wood carving. Rebecca designs the items to be carved (beautiful birds, animals boxes, clocks, toys, games and puzzles), Bruno does the carving and Rebecca applies the finishing touches and polish. Most of the wood they use comes from timber that was felled in the great storms of 1987 and 1990 or other lesser accidents. They have established a successful business that provides the income they need. They are open from April to October, excluding Sundays. They are extremely committed to sustainable living. (Source: visits.)

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), founded in 1982 by Amory and Hunter Lovins, is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit research and educational foundation with a vision across boundaries. They seek ideas that transcend ideology harness the problem-solving power of free-market economics. Their goal is to foster the efficient and sustainable use of resources as a path to global security. RMI have applied their ideas to the building that is their headquarters and recently acquired land to extend their premises. They achieve extraordinary energy efficiency by using efficient insulation, heat pumps and low energy lighting.

The Institute's ~46 full-time staff explore ten areas-energy, transportation, and water efficiency; sustainable farming, forestry, and corporate practices; green real-estate development; local economic development; profitable climate protection; and global security-seeking to emphasise their hidden links and conducting extensive outreach. RMI has a $3-million budget, half earned through programmatic enterprise-including its larger 48-person subsidiary E SOURCE (spun out in 1992, web site), the premier source of technical information worldwide on advanced electric efficiency.

RMI presents an innovative and unique approach to environmental problems. First, RMI believes that many global problems can be solved with profitable, market-driven solutions. Second, RMI's approach incorporates end-use/least cost thinking, which asks: What are we trying to do, and what is the best and cheapest way to do it? RMI looks at issues from a systems perspective, realising that without a broad view, the cause of problems is often solutions. This approach has led communities to find profitable alternatives to dam building, helped to create a global market for "negawatts" (units of saved energy), and helped President Clinton propose a profit-based solution to global warming. Because of its international reputation, RMI is a widely tapped resource for information. The Institute currently fields thousands of questions each year on topics ranging from household energy efficiency to land use preservation. More information by email or their web site

Sustainablebusiness.com is run by Rona Fried, who used to run the Sustainable Business Network site, which is now independent. Sustainablebusiness.com has its own  web site and is well worth regular visits.  The site provides a focal point on the Web for environmental business sectors, from recycling to green building, from renewable energy to organic products, from social investing to certified forestry. The site describes business opportunities, green jobs  and has an extensive library. The "Sustainable Business Insider" magazine accepts articles from site visitors.

Perry Walker is working on a project seeking visions of a new economy. The project was started during the People's Summit in 1998 and is offering to provide details of the three futures that are emerging from the responses of 6,000 people. The emerging ideas focus on the creation of wealth, the distribution of wealth and the definition of wealth.  Perry is keen to develop these ideas, create a dialogue and influence policy makers. If you want to know more contact Perry by email

Jan Wyllie and his partner Liz Shepherd (Organiser of LETSlink UK) have moved to Devon to live in a smaller community that is actively striving for sustainability and using an alternative currency for local trade. Jan, who can be contacted by email, also works for Trend Monitor as a researcher and maintains their web site.

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Last modified 25 November 1999