Deborah Meaden offered three top suggestions for any small-scale company owner looking to create a greener business during the SME XPO in London.
What defines what it means is what is a “good” company. The question was posed by business expert and entrepreneur Jeannette Pearce MBE when Deborah Meaden spoke about the green business concept during the SME XPO in London.
Profitability? Sustainability? In the case of an entrepreneur who is a serial success story, Pearce, It’s all about giving what you can. If you’re philanthropic, you succeed, But what’s stopping your giving even as you expand? Doesn’t doing good make you good?
“Find your strengths,” she urged the group of founders of small-scale businesses. It doesn’t matter what it is.
The moment Deborah Meaden stepped onto the stage, the definition of what “good” stood for was noticeable. That’s the kind of message founders wish Meaden would like to hear when they mention, “Oh, and it’s eco-friendly” after the Dragon’s Den pitch – confirmed with a smug smile by the founder’s co-founder.
Deborah Meaden is well-known for being environmentally conscious, and it seems she always was. She wrote her thesis on the effects of climate change at her University. In her position as the director of her park’s holiday business during her early days of work, a sign was erected which stated that grass would not be cut but kept for the animals. This also helped her pay an expense for maintenance.
“It was against the current at the time, and the customers weren’t concerned,” she acknowledged.
However, now, she added that it’s consumers who are driving change, and it’s crucial to integrate “planet-positive” features in your work. Regarding sustainability, greenwashing, net zero, and more, The following are the main lessons from the CEO’s speech.
“Trust is the most crucial factor you can have for your business. This can disappear at a moment’s notice and take a while to recover.
Deborah Meaden at the SME XPO in London
#1 – Beware of being enticed to use greenwash
“greenwashing” refers to when a company exaggerates its green credentials only to maximize the advertising benefits.
“Greenwashing does not work anymore,” Meaden said. “If you are guilty of this, it will be impossible to get the faith back.
“Business has been an enormous force in moving people toward an environmentally friendly future. Yet, people lose trust because of greenwashing.
“The truth is that all companies are making mistakes,” she added. “People believe in me and my business because we’re honest. Dock & Bay came onto Dragon’s Den with microfiber towels. The towels are not very good. Today, they are using 100% recyclable plastic.”
Dock & Bay offers quick-drying towels and swim shorts constructed out of recycled plastic bottles inducing dragons to pay a paltry $75,000 to acquire a 10% stake in 2017.
“Trust is the most crucial factor you can have for your business,” she said. “That could be gone within a matter of seconds, and restoring it can take a while.
“I recommend determining the value you will offer and then openly delivering your message.”
#2 – Concentrate on the biodiversity of our planet to zero net
The dangers that climate change poses are widely known. However, the impact of the loss of biodiversity on businesses is frequently overlooked, even though half of the world’s GDP is highly or moderately dependent upon nature.
Changes in biodiversity can affect the supply chain, and new regulations are on the way, requiring companies to disclose more regarding environmental impacts. It means that companies must evaluate and report the extent of their dependence on the natural environment.
“Anyone looking at net zero isn’t getting the message,” Meaden said. “If you’re in the back of the pack of the tsunami that will bring biodiversity to net zero is triggered, you’re at risk. However, if you can get it right, you’ve gained the upper hand since not many folks are.”
Net-zero goals and the protection of biodiversity are inextricably linked. An analysis from 2021 by Natural England showed that an area of wood could absorb as much carbon dioxide per year as 13 flight flights from London to Rome.
The study found that peatlands and natural woodlands possess the highest capacity to store carbon. Saltmarsh and seagrass meadows can store carbon “significant part to play” to help the UK reach net zero by 2050.
Businesses can also take smaller steps to invest in natural capital projects and review their purchasing habits and habitat improvement on-site.
“The impacts on the earth are one of the most important issues in the world. If you can get this correct, you’ll beat your competition.”
3. Reevaluate your supply chain
“I recommend that you look through your supply chain to ensure that it is environmentally friendly and eco-friendly. To do this, take a examine your contracts,” Meaden said.
“One instrument can be The Chancery Lane Project, which comes up with provisions to be included within your supply chain contracts.
“The greatest impact you could have is on the supply chain since you’re communicating to suppliers.”
There are many tools for supply chain management and certificates available to companies. For instance, Scope 3 of the Carbon Trust, which partners with other institutions in paving the way towards net zero as well as the B Corp movement – a certificate that proves that a company meets the strictest standards of sustainability and social performance.
“But it’s not sufficient to say you’re B Corp,” Meaden said. “Robust procuring processes are essential. Search for the right equipment. There are a lot of organizations that offer tools.
“It is too time-consuming for government to establish objectives and goals,” she concluded. “You have to explain to people what sustainable means, and there’s no single standard definition of sustainability. If we don’t, we’ll be entering an environment where we’ll be unable to achieve our goals.”