Climate Emergency Now Declared

13 May 2019, 12:55 pm
Speciality Bites by Paul Hargreaves

What amazing timing was our 'Towards a Greener Future' conference last Friday.

The energy in the room was palpable and most of those attending went home for the weekend determined to change things within their businesses or personally to reduce their carbon footprint.  I have been bombarded with e-mails and messages all weekend from suppliers saying how amazing the day was.  I will spend the next few weeks talking about some of the content of the conference and we will soon have a video of the event which I will publish here, but this week I wanted to talk about the various reactions we had when inviting suppliers to attend the event, which revealed where we are at as an industry on the environment.

Do bear in mind that this was the first main supplier conference we had asked suppliers to come to for four years - we gave more than four months’ notice of the date, we were offsetting at our cost all the carbon used on various journeys to get to Bracknell and the conference was on a subject area that is completely topical. The cost was £95, which included a three course, lunch, limitless tea and coffee, 10 industry expert speakers and a free copy of my book (cost price £14.99) then it represented excellent value for money.

There were those suppliers who simply never responded at all.  I may be old-fashioned, but this is the height of rudeness and bad manners.  If my team dealt with our customers like that, there wouldn’t be around for too long!  Secondly there were the normal “I am washing my hair on that day” type of excuses – again not much better than the first type, meetings can be re-arranged, I do it frequently when I have to.  As a B Corp we are absolutely wanting our suppliers aligned with us in the environmental space and we can only assume they are not if they can’t be bothered to come and collaborate on such an important subject as this.  Thirdly there were some who said they couldn’t afford it.  If you can’t afford less than £100 to help shape your business for the future, then God Help Us!

On a more encouraging note, there were several suppliers who sent us long e-mails saying how much they are doing for the environment so that was the reason not to come.  No, stop being so selfish, you have things to teach the rest of us so please collaborate and help others on the journey.  What these replies did indicate to us was that we are not good enough at gathering and collating all that is going on in the environmental space.

As David Attenborough said in his recent TV programme, “What happens now and in these next few years will profoundly affect the next few thousand years”.  We need to act now together to stop the almost irreversible damage we are doing to our planet. What this experience has highlighted is that there is too much individualism within the speciality food sector, too much re-inventing the wheel and more would be achieved more quickly by communication and collaboration.

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