3G: Germany, Glastonbury & Greta

Cath Convery of long standing B4 members Explosive Learning Solutions (ELS) is making a stand for climate change and is the perfect example of a B4 business embracing changes for the benefit of the local community and the planet.

Cath and her team set an example that the rest of us would do well to take on board.

“Why did we bother? It’s a sea change for us.” Explains Cath. “Our bread and butter is training (research, design, training and soon to be an End Point Assessment Organisation). So why are we engaging with all of this corporate and social responsibility (CSR) activity? Glastonbury Festival was where it all started for ELS, although, in reality, it started for me a long time before the formation of the business.

“Across the business we are doing much more that feeds into our ISO 14001 credentials (see below). I, as do a lot of people now, believe that businesses are now concerned with more than just the bottom line. It’s the ‘Blue Planet’ and ‘Greta’ (Thunberg) (the 16 year old Swedish environmental activist) factors which are making businesses sit up and think about what they’re doing.

“I lived in Germany twenty-five years ago where recycling has always been taken far more seriously than here in the UK. In Germany I had four bins and if I put the wrong thing in the wrong bin then the contents ended up all over my garden and I was expected to clear it up that day – as a change initiative it was a fairly big “stick”. That had an impact on me but, as my time in Germany became a distant memory and whilst we do have a green economy, to an extent, I found myself forgetting the importance of recycling etc…
“As a business, engaging with the public sector, we were very aware of the need to feed into the CSR charter, it is often a requirement on public sector bids. So when we were asked to get involved in Glastonbury to clear the site of rubbish every morning, it was a resounding ‘yes’. Not only did we get to go to the festival but it was also a perfect fit with where we are in the business.

“We had to pay for our ticket like everyone else, but we were given this back if we attended all of the sessions and then asked if we wanted to donate the money back to charity…which we all did. We worked from 6am to 12pm – the festival finished at 5.30am every morning – so we saw a lot of rubbish … amongst other things! We contributed in other ways to charity and we were delighted to receive the following note a few days ago:

‘We are really chuffed to announce that you all helped to raise £500 for Refugee Community Kitchen during the time you frequented Tom’s Bar at that little event in Pilton a few weeks back. The pub quiz raised £179, and we have used the bars profits to take the overall total to £500.’ Along with this we raised over a £1000 pounds for Cockermouth Mountain Rescue Team.

“We were working in the Market area where all of the food stands were and it was strangely cathartic walking towards a sea of rubbish with a completely cleared area behind us as we bagged everything. To have to just focus on what was in front of us was a strange but massively rejuvenating experience and hugely team building. Being plastic free this year, the amount of rubbish was considerably less than in previous years. This whole concept of the cycle of rubbish is now at the forefront of my mind. I now notice the piles of McDonalds rubbish 5 minutes from McDonalds where people have thrown their empty bags out of the car – we saw similar patterns at Glastonbury with cigarette butts and where they ‘congregated’ and that was the thinking piece about being at the festival, we were noticing things and detecting human behavior through where rubbish was left.

“Sir David Attenborough was amazing and the perfect ingredient to underline the message behind this year’s festival and Glastonbury mirrored what business is gradually realising. My train journey passes the Reading Festival site and the difference was marked in terms of the rubbish on site this year without the no plastic policy. Make sure your business is more Glasto than Reading!”

ISO 14001 is an international standard that establishes the requirements for an environmental management system (EMS). The objective is for an organisation to establish an EMS that is integrated with the overall business management process. Continual improvement is integral to the model.


ELS Environmental e-Newsletter checklist:

• Minimize our carbon footprint, especially as we are soon doubling-up with our new office move
• Investigate if ‘Ecosia’ would be a greener way forward with Google searches
• Reduce our paper output by producing “learner packs” or persuading clients to take electronic documents
• Link with Harwell Campus and surrounding businesses to develop ‘green’ friends and learn from others
• Create an ELS strategy ‘roadmap’ of what we want to achieve, with KPI’s to measure progress
• Review our milk delivery from plastic to glass
• Understand what is needed and the opportunities to learn from ISO140001 accreditation
• Reduce printing…please remember to print black & white on both sides

ELS also support The Hive Refills where Sally Povolotsky sets up her stall once a month at Harwell to allow ELS and others to come and refill their home cleaning dispensers with eco friendly products, therefore saving plastic and money.


The UK’s largest crisp packet recycling scheme

Walkers® offers a simple and free crisp packet recycling scheme, which accepts all brands. This is now the largest and fastest-growing scheme of its type in the UK, with more than 1,600 public drop-off locations nationwide. In fact, there is a public drop-off location within 4 miles of 80% of UK households.

Cigarette butts in soil hamper plant growth, study suggests

Discarded cigarette butts can hamper plant growth, new research suggests. The study, led by Anglia Ruskin University, found the presence of butts in soil reduced the germination success and shoot length of clover by 27% and 28% respectively. For grass, germination success reduced by 10% and shoot length by 13%.

An estimated 4.5 trillion butts are littered globally each year making them the planet’s most pervasive form of plastic pollution, the study said. Most cigarette butts contain a filter made of cellulose acetate fibre, a type of a bioplastic.

A single cigarette butt can contaminate 50 litres of water and will never biodegrade.

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