Ethic-ettes is a series I write about the problems small businesses face when moving towards ethics and sustainability. Sometimes the problems are small, sometimes they're systemic; the solutions, though, are never easy or clear, but they are worth discussing and recognising, that's a start.
Sustainability is the need of the hour, with the recent floods in the North East and Pakistan, environmental crises linger at our doorstep, we’d be wise to heed the warning and act, in concerto, as one.
But the steps need to be reparative too, we must correct and ameliorate prior wrongs, forget to point blame and delve into the difficult task of fixing a problem, regardless of who caused it in the first place. A higher path must be taken.
As a small business, our carbon footprint is small, negligible in any meaningful comparison, and yet we at Spoil Me Silly are actively exploring and implementing new ways to reduce our environmental impacts.
But in many environmental circles it has been debated as to whom must ultimately bear the greatest burden for an atmospheric clean-up, and yes, the most movement should come from the greatest polluters: industrial and energy giants whose very profit is derived from the demise of our great planet.
It has been called the greatest hoax in a generation: plastic recycling. A way to pass on the burden of amelioration to a fragmented customer base. Grassroots change is difficult and the pressure on commercial stalwarts must undoubtedly be maintained.
I highlight this phenomenon because it IS unfair to transfer climate-action from commercial behemoths to consumers, and because we cannot expect, as Bill Gates recently said, “to solve climate change by expecting consumers to use less energy”.
When deciding to take our first sustainability steps, we debated much on whether we could make their actual-significance rise over the perception that they were just marketing gimmicks.
The family dug in for a lengthy debate, generation vs generation: younger vs older. My mother worried about increased expenses and whether they were worth it, especially at our scale; I, on the other hand, felt that it was civic duty, as member of a global society and as member of a future that I have inherited, for better or worse.
But it does irk my rebellious spirit, it does seem to be that by undertaking individual steps towards sustainability we are absolving large corporations from responsibility for this crisis.
There are two arguments one can make against grassroots sustainability steps: A. That it has no impact and/or B. That it absolves true polluters: historical empires and large businesses.
The latter argument I acknowledge and say, I would rather do something other than simply stare in despondency whilst the largest do nothing (to none of our surprise). To the former I say, our measures do no harm, perhaps they truly are gimmicks: we have no way of verifying whether paper sold to us as “green” actually is so, or if the carbon removal we pay for is actually doing anything, but with our measures we at least establish sustainability as a conversation point, as a reasonable standard operating procedure that any ethical business must abide by.
Climate change is not a “passion project” for the youth, nor is it a hoax to hinder businesses, it is a true and real crisis. We must have real conversations about it and bring it into the mainstream as one of the most pressing problems we face. We must rally and use our technological prowess and ingenuity to find viable solutions to these fast-approaching future problems.
To this end, at Spoil Me Silly, we’ve implemented carbon-offset delivery: this means we sponsor carbon recapture research equal to the carbon footprint of your orders, we have reduced plastic in our packaging and are actively looking for biomaterial alternatives that meet our practical needs. We are also exploring new tie-ups with recyclers.
Our impacts may be negligible, but perhaps our small voice will add to those of other small businesses, which together, amplified, could remake a future.