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Sustainable 180 by 365

One of the Altris values is Sustainability. A question we are asked about that is ‘what does this mean in reality?’ Like all organizations, the trick with company values is to put them into action. In this blog we want to share a few things that we’ve found out already about being sustainable in everything we do, all year round (180 degrees by 365 days)

We are only a small business but our view is that if you mean it you’ve got to do something about it so we’ve recently taken a further step in our sustainability activity by signing up for Carbon Zero certification. This certification ties us in to a best practice standard for for emissions measurement and credible carbon offsetting. We are currently in the ‘data gathering’ stage and going through all of our activities for 2011 to see where we have contributed to greenhouse gas emissions.

But data gathering is just the start. The real effort will come in doing something about it. The challenge here is ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ and nobody gives you a  handbook that tells your specific business how to be more sustainable. That means you have to connect with people who are doing the same thing and learn from them. To that end we’ve started going to sustainability events, talks and networking and we’ve found out a few things:

  • The people who are in the forefront of sustainability don’t just see it as a ‘green issue’ they see it as a strategic imperative that goes through all of their operations. It’s not just about planting a few trees to compensate, its about looking at your business as sustainable in itself:do your processes create waste of any form, human or material? for example.
  • Sustainable strategies include your customer and community engagement e.g can you encourage sustainability in what they do by supporting or rewarding them (recycling your product, using less non replenish-able resources in using your product etc)
  • Sustainability includes your procurement habits. Use less paper by all means, but it’s not sustainable in the bigger sense if your buyer ships it from the other side of the world as its cheaper.
  • It’s also about creating a mindset within employees. Those that are achieving results are treating it as part of their employer brand and finding that people like to do sustainability projects in support of the business or the community. Many find that their potential graduate intakes value sustainability highly and the changing attitudes in employment mean this cannot be ignored. They do say that this is not a reason to be sustainability focused though as employees would be cynical of that.

So what does that mean for us at Altris as a small business? We’ve always tried to live our sustainability value in our client engagements through using what is already there (existing language, tools, models and ways of working) as well as in small ways (less paper for example). But to be sustainable in a way that benefits our clients and the community we live in probably means that we need to engage our clients and our suppliers in the discussion e.g. We would normally provide a folder of over 500 pages of print for all those on our leadership development programmes. Can we achieve the same end (access to knowledge tools) in other ways?

In the meantime we will add up our flying and driving miles, our electricity usage and our waste output and complete the data gathering. We look forward to sharing our sustainability journey and welcome any thoughts and ideas that you may have.


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