Our sustainability champions network kicks off

3 June 2020 was the kick-off day for the Ethical Reading sustainability champions network. This had been held over from an earlier physical event date, postponed as Covid-19 lockdown took force. Although it was online only, the event still served the same purpose: to bring together local people who are passionate about helping to improve the impact of their organisation on the environment.

At 6.30 on a lovely summer’s evening, around 30 people took to their laptops and joined a very open-ended conversation over Zoom. Who were they? What were their challenges? What were their successes?

The agenda started with introductions from everybody as many people did not know each other. This worked even better on Zoom than in a real room!

The first speaker was David Lamont, Marketing Manager at law firm Blandy & Blandy LLP. He talked about the most important areas for professional services firms like his to tackle – of which staff travel to work was high on the agenda, along with maximising recycling.

He was followed by local CSR specialist Tracey Rawling Church from Reading Climate Action Network, who described her role in leading the resources theme for Reading’s new Climate Emergency Strategy. This focuses strongly on how businesses can contribute to the goal of making Reading carbon neutral by 2030.

Each speaker answered questions from the participants. Then local sustainability innovation expert, Erica Purvis, introduced breakout discussions on sustainability issues participants face in their workplace and successes they would like to highlight.

A strong theme that emerged was the need for more better cycle security to encourage people to ride into town for work. This is especially pertinent now that the government is discouraging people from using public transport due to the pandemic.

As new bikes and e-bikes may well cost thousands of pounds, this was seen as a major stopper. It was suggested that this might be a topic Ethical Reading could tackle in conjunction with Reading Cycle Campaign, and one of our volunteers, Willem Londeman, offered to make the introductions.

The participants asked about next meeting, as they had enjoyed sharing with each other. We canvassed them for their thoughts for future events in our feedback survey, and have got some ideas line up. 

We have also launched a private Facebook group where champions can connect for mutual support and inspiration in between live sessions. 

Are you a sustainability champion where you work, or could you become one? If so, we’d love you to join our network. For more information, contact Ethical Reading volunteers Kathryn McCann or Rob Hill.

We are so lucky that such amazing volunteers are driving initiatives forward – thank you!

Gill Ringland is a founding director of Ethical Reading.

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