London…The world’s most expensive city… Or at least that is the title I am giving it. I spent about 2 weeks there and had the amazing opportunity to meet with a range of leaders from across the business sector who are committed to driving sustainable change in their work. I also had enough time to wander the streets aimlessly, which I am sure annoyed many of the locals as everyone seemed to be in a rush! Whether it be in active wear on their way to the gym or high powered business suits, people were moving at a pace that I had long forgotten!
Eating out is a nightmare for the wallet. Literally every menu I looked at I thought:
‘oh yeah, that is reasonable…’
*Remembers its not in Australian Dollars and I basically have to double it*
‘Looks like I will be eating in again…!’
However I did shout myself a few times and went to a few awesome social enterprises.
Plastic use in supermarkets is also a challenge in London. Packaged dinners are big news here which is super convenient but also a major issue for plastic packaging.
A major supermarket, Waitrose recently trialled a plastic free section of their store in Oxford, where consumers bring in their own containers. Prices will be roughly 15 per cent cheaper in the refillable section compared to packaged items!
Cafe from Crisis
Café From Crisis is an award winning training café and social enterprise in the heart of Spitalfields. For 15 years they have worked to end homelessness with hospitality and catering training in their cafe. They offer technical training such as kitchen and barista skills which helps members can gain qualifications and confidence as well as being supported out of homelessness.
Cafe Van Gogh
This was a little gem I found in Brixton. It is a vegan social enterprise that helps people with learning challenges get skills to break into employment.
The brunch was amazing, service fantastic and the courtyard lovely and sunny. Highly recommend!
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A vegan social enterprise with delicious coffee and a gorgeous outdoor sitting area? Take my money!!!!! @cafevangogh01 was an absolute treat. I had their English breakfast which satisfied my intense craving for British cuisine. The team also trains kids with learning challenges to get hospitality skills that help with getting a job. Social enterprises make me so happy. Do good. Make money. Change the world. Follow us today for more inspiring examples of people changing the world! #foodstagram #foodblogger #sustainability #brixton #sustainablefood #socialchange #socialenterprise #uk #london #coffee #coffeeshop #bethechange #planetbinsights #opportunity #win #socialgood #cafes
Social enterprises are big business in London and it has been bolstered through strong impact investment funding by Government and increasingly, the private sector.
A friend in the UK showed me the Positive News magazine which is trying to buck the trend of media’s negative bias towards news. They have stories of people and organisations who are changing the world. Sometimes we need to hear a bit of good news in amongst the doom and gloom! Like them on Facebook to brighten up your feed!
Economics of Mutuality
I attended the Responsible Business Forum in Oxford (I know, not technically London…!) which was run by the Economics of Mutuality and Oxford University.
From their website, The Economics of Mutuality was started by the Mars Foundation: ‘Spurred by a far-sighted question posed in 2007 by the leadership of Mars, Incorporated — ‘What is the right level of profit for the corporation?’ — the Economics of Mutuality programme has matured into a breakthrough management innovation and a new growth model that empowers business to adopt a more complete and mutual form of capitalism that is fairer and more efficient than the dominant profit-maximising business models of today.’
They are driving new business models that align purpose, profit, people and planet through new management theories and measurement frameworks.
The keynote address was by Shelby Coffey, a leading journalist in the USA who spoke about the 7 deadly sins of Capitalism. Check out Planet B Insights’ wrap up here.
Waste management and recycling seemed many and varied across London, depending on the council and individual. With approximately 8 million people in Greater London, something needs to be done! The good thing is the London Mayor recently released a strategy for the region. I knew there was something I liked about this Mayor, or maybe a stone cold winner… (I basically take the opposite stance on Trump’s views and it works out well for me!) Here are some of the key points:
- By 2020 there will be minimum recycling and food waste standards for London’s waste authorities to meet.
- By 2026 no biodegradable waste (including food waste) will be sent to landfill.
- By 2030 65% of London’s municipal waste will be recycled.
England’s Real Royal: Sir David Attenborough
I asked a bunch of locals and a few foreigners how they think waste management and pollution is going in the UK. Without fail, everyone stated that the turning point for behaviour change was David Attenborough’s Blue Planet. He was often referred to as the UK’s national treasure and one person even said ‘I don’t know what we will do once he goes…!’
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Let’s just all take a moment to appreciate this hero @david_attenborough I have asked so many people in the UK what they think has contributed to the change of attitude in climate change and plastic locally and without fail everyone says Sir David! The way he tells stories and helps us understand the mysteries of nature has been an amazing way to educate and inspire people to act on climate change. Blue Planet is often referenced as the turning point for people’s attitudes. He uses his voice (literally) to help those who don’t have one. Our oceans, forests and wildlife thank you, as do I!!! What a legend! Double tap for David! #davidattenborough #climateaction #climatecrisis #environment #environmentalist #planetbinsights #socialchange #makechange #uk #london #animalactivism #activism #blueplanet 📸: @atlasofthefuture
Ultra Low Emission Zone
In April this year, London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan unveiled the world’s first 24-hour Ultra Low Emission Zone boasting the world’s toughest vehicle emissions standards in an effort to help reduce toxic air pollution and protect public health.
According to the Mayor’s office, polluting vehicles account for approximately 50% of London’s harmful Nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, which has an economic cost to the capital of up to £3.7 billion every year, and £20 billion cost to the country every year. (energytransition.org).
How does it work? Well, any vehicle driving into the City that does not meet the new emission standard (petrol vehicles that do not meet Euro 4 standards and diesel vehicles that do not meet Euro 6) will have to pay a daily charge — £12.50 a day for cars, vans, and motorbikes, and £100 a day for lorries, buses, and coaches.
Hackney: Changemaker tour
I did a social enterprise tour of the Hackney region run by 6 Heads. They call themselves ‘an experiment in shared learning at the join of sustainability and innovation.’ We walked around Stoke Newington region and heard about the history of activism in the region as well as how businesses are solving social issues. It was a really interesting experience as it used story telling, facts, philosophy and ancient traditions to help understand the interrelationships of people, business and Government.
We started off at Dalston Eastern Curve Garden which is called a ‘meanwhile’ space. Local community members rallied together and asked local Council if they could use an old railway station stop for a common space. The intention was to create an intersection point for the community that anyone could be comfortable to enter regardless of background. They have since done this and created an amazing social enterprise that invites everyone to enjoy a cuppa and some local greenery.
One of my favourite quotes of the night:
If we are to change the future we must first disrupt the present.
There was so much happening in London that it was often overwhelming at times! People are always on the move, talking about money, drinking, eating out and ALWAYS talking shop!
My time in London was jam packed and I loved meeting people from all over who are using business to drive change. Check out the UK tab on planetb.com.au for more articles being released soon with topics including impact measurement, finance, plastic waste and more..!