The air is crisp and cold. The breath catches in my lungs as I clutch my steaming mug of coffee and watch the sunrise over Dartmoor. It was a last-minute get away before the second lockdown. A chance to recharge, refresh, and rest. Every time I’m in this hidden corner of the world I’m struck by it’s peace and harmony. Nature revels in the unspoilt beauty of these rolling hills. It’s a magical place yet I still catch myself thinking: “How long will it stay like this?”. David Atttenborough’s latest film, ‘A Life on Our Planet’, is fresh in my mind. The statistics are heartbreaking. We lose on average 5% of the planet’s wilderness areas every decade. The subtext of Attenborough’s message couldn’t be clearer: “If you won’t do it for the natural kingdom, then do it for yourselves.” He is, of course, referring to saving the planet. Saving our natural habitats and wild areas. Saving places like Dartmoor so they can be enjoyed long into the future.
Sustainability is being ignored, ironically, because we’re fighting to survive. Yet it’s sustainability that will be critical to the long-term survival of businesses and the natural environment. There’s never been more opportunity to reinvent, do things differently and do things better than there is now. To build from the ground up with a circular economy mindset or to become a green business and to leave the planet in a better condition than we find it. And as Sir David Attenborough so rightly says, it all begins with us. With the choices we make in how we live and how we conduct our business.
A Changing World
Harland Accountants will be celebrating its 40th anniversary in a couple of years. The world isn’t even close to being recognisable to the one where we began. Geographical barriers to business are now virtually non-existent. We’ve seen at least three major recessions. We’ve seen yuppies become Boomers, watched as Millennials were honed to shape the future, seen the rise of Gen Z – all powered by a technological revolution where the way we consume information and communicate has been radically transformed.
Yet in that time 20% of the wilderness has been lost. Capitalism and human development has much to be accountable for. It’s why sustainability in business – and in life – is so vital. But right now, with businesses being so ferociously challenged, sustainability has taken a back seat. Good intentions from consumers around things like single use plastics have taken a U-turn, as discarded face masks blow down nearly every pavement and across our beaches, while places like coffee shops have been forced to change tack in refillable coffee cups and are now back to single use disposables.
Introducing Our Sustainable Charter
In 2016 we were awarded the UK’s most socially responsible practice for our work with organisations operating in environmental, sustainable and community sectors. Since then we have turned our attention to really practicing what we preach – our directors drive electric vehicles, there are annual days off for the team to dedicate to charitable causes (#harlandgivesback) and we’ve sent out packets of vegetable seeds far and wide as part of our Grow With Harland’s campaign. Alongside this we’re actively supporting clients in their quests to make a difference with their own businesses.
But we’ve also decided that the time has now come where we need to be more active in this. So today, we are excited to be launching our own sustainability charter:
- To offer a bursary to companies who actively seek to pursue sustainable business opportunities;
- To ensure that grant and investment opportunities are brought to the attention of businesses and organisations who are actively seeking to leave the planet in a better place;
- To support our team in their own quests for a more sustainable environment and to ensure that they have opportunities to explore leading thinking in the field;
- To ensure that our own business behaviours are conducive to best practice;
- To showcase and champion by way of a “green stamp” to companies who actively seek to pursue sustainable business opportunities.