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Small steps make a big difference

27 October 2009
Small steps make a big difference

Chris Durant, director of Beacon Purchasing - the UK's largest purchasing consortium for the independent hospitality market - explains why environmental initiatives are important.

Despite glimmers of hope in the economy, it could be argued that at times like this we need to put matters like corporate social responsibility on the back burner until the economy improves. However, I think that would be a major step backwards.

Setting aside the ongoing debate about whether the finance industry has actually learnt anything from the past year, the ethics of doing business have probably changed for good and, in future, businesses will be judged as much on the way they conduct themselves as on the quality of their goods and services.

The environmental challenges we face will not diminish either, so we need to continue to minimise the negative impact we all have on the world. The other significant point is that green agendas make commercial sense. It may not currently be the most important deciding factor in the purchase process but we are seeing its importance growing every year. The faster companies integrate environmental initiatives into their strategies and, importantly, tell their customers about it, the sooner their company will be seen as environmentally aware.

I meet a huge number of companies in the hospitality industry every year - suppliers and buyers alike. Some are moving ahead in leaps and bounds with their environmental agendas, yet others are still bewildered by where to start and have done little so far. My advice to the latter is to start in a gradual way. A small initiative introduced every month means that, in a year, 12 initiatives will have been introduced. I would also urge speaking to suppliers, too, and ask how they can help.

My company also struggled with where to start. Being a purchasing consortium and, therefore, neither end user nor supplier, we debated how to make the most impact. Our solution, in addition to introducing the usual office environmental initiatives, was the development of a virtual hotel as a learning tool - open to anyone to explore and learn more about greener initiatives and products.

The virtual hotel can be found at www.beacongreenhotel.co.uk.

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