How often do we consider the environmental Impact of business development?

I find that the burden of travelling can be eased by my newfound likeness for podcasts. Last week I was travelling and found myself listening to a passionate and informed debate on rewilding in rural Scotland. Some clever algorithmic trickery later, I inadvertently found myself listening to a podcast on CO2 emissions generated by industrial scale meat production and the impact this has on our environment. Not my usual choice of listening. However, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Next week I am traveling to Norway to meet with some of our clients in both Oslo and Stavanger. Ritualistically, during the downturn, travel has been kept to a minimum for purely commercial reasons. Whilst booking the flights for next weeks trip, with the podcast fresh in my head I began to ponder the environmental impact of this in the deepest, darkest recess of my consciousness.

Largely as a result of CO2 emissions, the UK will heat up by 5.4 degrees Celsius by 2070. To combat this the UK government has stipulated a reduction in CO2 emissions of 80% by 2050. That’s pretty harrowing, before even looking at the worlds projected water usage….

Depending on which online source is used: Next week the CO2 on an individual level, from my air travel only, will amount to circa 0.4 tonnes. To put this in perspective, this would run a washing machine for around a year or provide nearly 160 hot showers of around 5 mins duration. Its quite an addictive online activity making those comparisons, my flights next week would allow me to commute back and forth to work in the car for 3 weeks.

Technology is great, that’s tough for me to admit as I crash cumbersomely at the keyboard as I type this. The advances in virtual meeting software and the connectivity to use it effectively has transformed elements of our working life. However, I still place significant value in meeting in person. I want to get to know the people I do business with and so do my clients. I can’t emphasise enough the value of meeting in person when forging & strengthening relationships. My contention is we need to use the tools at our disposal to reduce our impact on the environment. Most of us will have environmental management systems and the accreditation’s so its already on our radar at a corporate level. Building relationships and striking a rapport with customers via skype or a good ‘ole phone requires a different skill set compared to being there in person, however, it can be done!

The key must surely be to employ the myriad of communication methods available and align the most appropriate method to the situation, always mindful of the environmental impact. It’s one of the situations where awareness is key. As a colleague of mine used to say, “a little bit better, every day”.