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Eco-watch: if these big brands can make sustainable changes, so can we

Sustainability is a journey, not a destination: no matter how sustainable an individual or organisation is, there are always improvements that can be made to reduce environmental impact.

Recently we shared an article on how to reduce your waste. Today we’re looking at a few sustainable changes large companies have recently announced.

Legal and General - divesting in environmentally-damaging companies

The financial services multinational, which manages almost £1 trillion in assets, has pledged to not only publish a 'carbon-intensity balance sheet' listing the environmental impact of its investments, but also actively divesting away from polluting firms. The financial company has provided an ultimatum to the companies it invests in: commit to a 'climate change pledge' or we sell your shares. Legal and General are also pledging to invest more into key technologies which accelerate movement to a low-carbon future.

This aggressive and welcome action teaches an important lesson: we vote with our money. We should be actively making this choice every time we buy, only buying from environmentally-friendly companies, encouraging all companies to clean up their act.

McDonald's - setting ambitious emissions reduction targets

Although a very large contributor to greenhouse emissions due to the impact of the agriculture on the environment, it is good to see McDonald's making some changes to reduce their environmental impact. Half of McDonald's delivery vehicles are now powered by biofuel which they produce from recycling the cooking oil from their restaurants.

They recently announced new targets to reduce their emissions by 36% by 2030 (from 2015 levels) through more efficient equipment in its sites, sustainable packaging, recycling in restaurants and investing in more sustainable agricultural methods. The huge scale of the company (37,000 sites in over 100 countries) means that achieving this goal would have a huge global impact. Hopefully this ambitious target will inspire other companies to follow suit.

Pret – Increasing the reusable cup discount

The global coffee chain has doubled the discount it gives for using a reusable cup from 25p to 50p! If you're a big coffee drinker, these discounts quickly add up. Coffee cups are often not recyclable, and with the UK using an estimated 2.5bn coffee cups a year - that's a coffee cup mountain going to landfill.

We’d like to see coffee chains going one step further and committing to only offering cups which are fully recyclable or compostable. Of course as individuals we can make the personal change and commit to carrying reusable cups, if we’re often coffee-cup offenders!

Morrisons - swapping plastic bags for paper bags

UK supermarket chain Morrisons has recently ditched plastic bags used for its fruit and veg and other supermarkets are expected to follow suit.

Food packaging is one of the largest sources of household waste so we'd like to see supermarkets doing a lot more to reduce their packaging, encouraging their suppliers to move to most sustainable options.

So what can you do?

Alongside the point above about only buying from environmentally-friendly companies, you can also reach out and actively encourage your favourite brands to improve. If you spot an area for improvement, email the company directly or if it is a physical location, tell the manager of the store – most good brands welcome feedback and suggestions. Don't be afraid to shout about it too: tweeting your thoughts and ideas can also be effective as it publicly opens the debate for others to comment and also give the company in question the opportunity to answer.

And of course, that goes for Form too: if you think of ways we can reduce our environmental impact, we’d love to hear it and, as always, we will do our best to implement it!

>Read next: 5 ways to reduce your waste

>Read next: How to make your workout more sustainable

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