10 April 2019
Written by: Allan Sandilands, Board Member of Total Homes Co-operative & Principal Consultant at Resource Futures
People often tell me that I’m not your typical environmental consultant, and it’s a badge I wear with pride. Why? Well, there’s not just one type of eco-advocate, and if there was, we would never be able to shift our whole economy over to a circular model. There needs to be room on the bandwagon for everyone, and that means supporting everyone to become more environmentally minded, not just the already converted. You don’t have to be an eco-warrior to make a positive impact on our environment – it can also just be good business.
One of the big things that’s happening now is a conversation about climate change impact vs the action we’re taking to tackle it. Do they add up, and are we close to where we need to be? I often feel inspired but frustrated when I go to industry events. There is always interesting dialogue and discussion about how we need to change, but in my opinion the level of action doesn’t match the level of threat.
It’s vital we use every avenue possible to tackle our impacts through activism as well as pragmatism. As someone who supports circular economy-based businesses, I’m dedicated to creating both demand and supply for circular economy companies. Circular models and materials can deliver savings and success for all parties. Economic, social and environmental benefits are a natural outcome of such practice.
Unfortunately, in a lot of sectors, waste production and resource misuse are still viewed as “business as usual”, and only become problems to be dealt with when the price goes up and disposing of waste isn’t the easy option anymore. We can’t afford to wait for such a ‘tipping point’ to occur before we take action to do things differently.
Thankfully, I get to work in Glasgow, and we are ahead of the curve. Awareness and action is high here, and as a country we’re pushing forward partly because of the Circular Economy Business Support Service that Zero Waste Scotland provides, as well as the financial investment to go alongside it. This support provides access to expert advice, such as that provided by my company Resource Futures and a support structure for businesses to successfully explore circular options. It’s something I’m proud to be part of.
Total Homes Co-operative is one such successful business whom I supported through the business support service and then went on to become a board member. Total Homes provide a competitive service to Housing Associations and landlords for clearing houses, but they do it with the added bonus of preventing waste and saving carbon. They do this by reusing, repairing and upcycling the furniture instead of throwing it away. It’s an effective shift to a circular model. It’s moral, it’s environmental, its socially and legally responsible but most importantly for the clients – it just makes good business sense.
The reason I got into the environmental sector was not because I was the archetypal “eco-warrior” but because I was good with people, and I wanted to work somewhere that made a difference. In my role I get to do both and encourage more sustainable behaviours. This happens by meeting people at their level and understanding their challenges. That means I know the pushes and nudges required to help shift behaviours from being niche to mainstream, and I think that this helps me in my role.
The circular economy is absolutely the future, and I’d like to support more businesses like Total Homes to deliver sustainable changes, cost effectively, to their clients across Scotland.