50 Oxfordshire businesses met on Thursday (26th September) to explore how they can all respond to the climate crisis which Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg described at the United Nations in New York last week.
The Business Eco Day, hosted by Jennings at their Monument Business Park in Chalgrove showcased a range of ways in which businesses can become more sustainable.
Along with workshops about climate change and how to respond, there were advisors including Oxfordshire Greentech and the Low Carbon Hub talking about routes towards sustainability. And Climate Change coach Charly Cox talked about the positive ways companies can show leadership. These included changing established habits such as sourcing food, office suppliers, materials such as wood and plastic, power and transport, but also reached to how much data is stored in ‘The Cloud’ at a substantial energy cost.
Entrepreneurs who have already taken a lead in their businesses demonstrated and explained solutions they have embraced, including the all-electric fleet operated by Oxford Office Furniture and the huge commitment to sustainable printing taken by Seacourt Printers, now one of the leading sustainable businesses in Europe.
Four students from Icknield Community College in Watlington provided a reminder of the concerns in their generation, who will be most affected by climate change. A student-led initiative at the school has been addressing waste and unsustainable activities, seeking to reduce energy use, increase recycling and reduce plastic use.
Chris Williams of Jennings said: “Greta Thunberg’s powerful speech to the UN made it clear exactly what she expects our generation of business leaders to do. Even though many legislators are declaring a climate emergency, action is necessary by us all and the business community must play its part.”
Jennings has committed to being zero carbon business by 2030. They hope their event will encourage others to begin taking similar practical steps towards addressing climate change.
“We do not pretend to be perfect, but by taking a whole series of steps ourselves, we have discovered it is possible to become much more sustainable.”
“Every business can do something” Chris Williams commented. “As businesses we cannot simply wait for others to take the lead. It is time for us to seize the initiative. We want people to start doing things differently and to go back to their companies with ideas of what can be done. The commercial world can create hubs of activity aimed at sharing energy and resource-saving activities. There’s no doubt that the business community can make an impact and that employees will be more engaged themselves when they see their directors and senior manager taking a lead.”
The range of companies taking part in the event ranged from small, newly launched businesses through to established enterprises, banks, charities and social enterprises.
Ceramicist Mia Sarosi, who has a pottery studio at Chalgrove, produced some special designs on the theme of ‘taking action on climate change’, which were presented to Jennings at the Business Eco Day. Food for the event was specially prepared by Debbie Warland’s team at the Picnic Hamper café on the Monument Park using organic and sustainably sourced supplies including fruit from local orchards.