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Getting green for Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! The first global Earth Day took place in 1970 and since then it’s been the movement’s mission to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide, all year long. 

Today, more than any other day is an ideal moment to reflect on the state of the planet, personally and as a business.

This year’s theme is to ‘Invest In Our Planet’. At Buzzacott, we continue to integrate sustainability where possible throughout the firm. We’re proud to say that our Wood Street building uses 100% renewable energy, and our people use cloud-based filing systems, re-usable bottles and cups and encourage environmental volunteering as part of our communities programme. These are a few of the many initiatives we’ve integrated over the last few years but there’s a lot more to do.

Fortunately, ESG and Sustainability has become an increasingly hot topic amongst businesses in recent years and is at the forefront of many people’s agenda. That being said, there is still a lot of work to do embedding environmental action into our practices and behaviours. 

A conversation on investing in our planet

In celebration of Earth Day, James Ross, CSR executive, catches up with Alec James, a Supervisor in Charity and Not-for-Profit. In 2019 Alec was a One Young World Ambassador, representing the ICAEW, the first professional body to achieve carbon-neutral status in 2020. Alec speaks with passion about this cause from both a business and personal perspective, so this is a great conversation brewing.

Tell us why Earth Day is important to both businesses and individuals?

It’s an opportunity to reflect. Given how busy we are in our personal and work life, Earth Day gives us the chance to reflect on the environment and the consequences of our actions.

Looking at the bigger picture, what concerns you the most about the current environmental situation?

The lack of urgency. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has described climate science as ‘unequivocal’ for quite a long time. There’s a misconception that making a few little tweaks here and there will resolve environmental issues. However, this  passive, business-as-usual approach that many organisations are taking isn’t enough, and as time goes by, the situation is getting worse.

This year’s Earth Day theme is “Invest in Our Planet”. How do you think organisations like Buzzacott can promote long-term value through environmental sustainability? And do you see a specific role for accountants in tackling this issue?

As an accounting firm, we are in a unique position as we have an advisory role to a whole range of organisations. This provides us with a valuable opportunity to speak to where businesses can do better in this subject. And this doesn’t just stop at businesses, it’s charities, other types of clients and individuals.

At the moment, UK environmental reporting requirements are pretty limited. But we can encourage and promote action, especially helping our clients to be ahead of the curve. Consumers want to see the businesses they interact with being environmentally conscious and environmentally friendly. We have the voice and opportunity to speak to all kinds of organisations and encourage them to start thinking about this further.

You were selected as a One Young World Ambassador to represent the ICAEW. What did you learn about how climate change is being addressed?

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Firstly, the level of involvement the ICAEW has with One Young World demonstrates that they really do have their finger on the pulse with environmental matters. Being an accountant can perhaps lean towards you feeling like your impact is limited, but I was excited and impressed by the Institute’s forward-thinking approach and passion towards proactively tackling climate change within the conference setting.

It's easy to feel like you're a very small cog when it comes to responding to climate change, both yourself and the company you work for, so it was amazing to see that there are thousands of young people all over the world who are passionate about doing something to protect our planet.

Firstly, the level of involvement the ICAEW has with One Young World demonstrates that they really do have their finger on the pulse with environmental matters. Being an accountant can perhaps lean towards you feeling like your impact is limited, but I was excited and impressed by the Institute’s forward-thinking approach and passion towards proactively tackling climate change within the conference setting.

It's easy to feel like you're a very small cog when it comes to responding to climate change, both yourself and the company you work for, so it was amazing to see that there are thousands of young people all over the world who are passionate about doing something to protect our planet.

How do you personally choose to address your impact on the environment?

One place to start is something that a friend of mine said recently, “don't make perfect the enemy of good”. It's easy when thinking about your own personal impact to be a bit defeatist or beat yourself up too much. I think any individual changes that we make are good changes.

The things I do personally are:

  • Buying second-hand or sustainable options, and in general buying less
  • Saving on energy i.e. Turning off my screens after I log off
  • Bringing in lunch rather than buying something with disposable packaging
  • Having ethical savings accounts 
  • Cutting down on meat consumption – research has proven this to be one of the biggest individual actions we can take

I'm also an ambassador for a climate positive start-up called Ecologi, which allows you to not only offset your personal carbon emissions by planting trees, but also by investing in carbon-reducing projects. These projects offset my carbon now, and planting trees will continue to do that in the long-term.

Learn more

Don’t miss out on ICAEW’s upcoming event on how to get started with thinking about climate change from a business lens on 26 April, Buzzacott’s own James Ross is presenting at this event.

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