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Misconceptions of Sustainability

Over the last two weeks, I’ve attended various roundtable discussions and events. The same topic keeps being discussed - what is your business doing to be sustainable? But often the question should be, what do you believe sustainability means for a business?

Of course, everyone jumps up and says how their business is being sustainable. But they’re constantly discussing the environmental actions they’re taking. Which, don’t get me wrong, are all still very fitting for sustainability, but there is so much more to it. Others will often look at it as a tick-box process, thinking we’re being sustainable as we recycle all waste and materials. I believe we should start with what the word sustainable means:


'the ability to be maintained at a certain rate or level'


'avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance'


We need to be conscious of our own actions personally, and as a business. But this relates to all aspects of working, from the products and procedures in place to support execution and efficiency of your services. This can be looking at the type of materials you use and how you dispose of them (shout out to those people who want to tick recycling box, here’s your opportunity!)

But what about the wellbeing of those carrying out all this work? Do you look at the wellbeing of the team members who are delivering on the outputs for your business? If you're not conscious of this, you’ll neglect the workforce, allowing this element to fall apart and damaging your business' workflow and efficiency.

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Often decisions about the ways to be more sustainable within your business come from the top. In effect, you’re told this is what we’re imposing as a business now and this type of enforced situation isn’t really going to engage people. Let’s be honest, no one likes to be told how to do things regardless of your age.

Yet, something DRPG did was ask each department to come up with their own initiatives. Ideas were varied, but some really stuck. For example, in our print department, the bleed line for printing was set at 10mm as a default. By rolling material back into the printer after a job was finished, we reduced the amount of paper waste and, over time, reduced cost.

In production, a lot of batteries are used for microphone packs as we can never allow power to get lower than 50 per cent when producing a live event. So, instead of these batteries being neglected and discarded, we reuse them within the office in things such as TV remotes and calculators. This has had a massive impact on savings and waste.

By Ryan Curtis-Johnson - Head of PR and Marketing

"Sustainability is a great engagement tool and can help support behaviour change for your business. It has a positive impact and can help bring your company values and brand purpose to life."

These may seem like small things, but the collective effort of all teams meant we had nearly 50 different initiatives. This better way of doing business began about nine years ago and every year we still look for new ways to improve. How has this all worked? Quite simply, the team embraced and implemented sustainability with gusto. This essentially drove the scheme for our business.

We have a duty to uphold our accreditations, meaning we often challenge suppliers and highlight the positive effects of this to clients -  especially with having accreditation ISO 20121.

As mentioned, it isn’t all environmental - we fully consider the wellbeing of the team: discouraging long hours and promoting flexible working to support individuals with the challenges of everyday life.  We have trained mental health first aiders at every different office location, they are a confidential port of call and we actively socialise this across the business.

This has become part of our culture and will ultimately drive our business forward, helping us continue on our sustainability journey. But we’ve only just scratched the surface and there is still so much more to achieve and do. In summary, it’s a great engagement tool and can help support behaviour change for your business. It has a positive impact and can help bring your company values and brand purpose to life (another hot topic for another time!). But there are so many businesses and hotels taking action right now take a look at One Aldwych. Everyone can play their part - be it supplier, customer or employee. It shouldn’t be something we wait for government to impose upon us.

So, next time you’re asked about sustainability, think outside the box and expand upon the generalisation of it. If you’re struggling, you can always look it up in the dictionary!