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Time for charities to get real about going green

24 May 2012 Voices

Charities, like businesses should be held to account over their environmental standards, says Katy Wing.

Charities, like businesses should be held to account over their environmental standards, says Katy Wing.

It’s generally accepted that acting environmentally responsibly is everybody’s business. Charities aren’t exempt.

From my own experience, most people involved with charities take this issue seriously and many charities are doing something to cut their carbon footprint. However, not everyone has a plan and too often it can be seen a nice thing to do rather than a core aim. 

But reducing your carbon footprint fits in with charities’ core values. Climate change has the greatest impact on the most disadvantaged people, both locally and internationally.

Navca has a long way to go but we are making good progress. We’ve just published a sustainable development progress report, which measures how successful we’ve been in our aim to become more sustainable. It shows we’ve massively reduced our office paper consumption and reduced the amount of waste from long print runs. This builds on previous action to switch to a greener energy tariff and conduct an energy audit to identify cost and energy savings.

In other ways we’ve been hampered. We don’t own our own building so we can’t do much to make our building more environmentally friendly. Our landlord is not entirely sympathetic and has refused requests about recycling (staff take their recycling home) and cycling (he won’t install a bike rack). Also there is a real dilemma for us in cases where environmental action costs us more - like everyone else money is tight at the moment. Maybe this is why the actions we have done first have also tended to save money - but that’s not a bad thing!

In leading this work for Navca, I’ve found it really helpful to have an action plan, which has been approved by our Board of Trustees. This ensures we have sign-up at the highest level, as well as helping us to monitor progress, maintain momentum, overcome barriers and celebrate successes. Also, having a cross-team working group has helped to embed good practice into all parts of Navca. Another key success factor is personal commitment from the chief executive, Joe Irvin, who believes this is something should be doing.


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