Spotting GreenWash

As published in FM World We are all wary of false claims for products.  This is true everywhere but it is especially galling in the environmental field where doing it right or simply offering GreenWash can mean the difference between more or less damage to our incredible planet. There are two types of GreenWash:  blatant lies and subtle half truths.  The Concise Oxford English Dictionary defines Greenwash as “disinformation disseminated by an organization so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.”   And it’s getting worse: the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) says that the number of complaints relating to environmental […]

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Are big companies going CSR lite?

As published on Guardian Social Enterprise Blog Last week I was asked to speak about corporate social responsibility at a business conference in theMidlands. The invite came at a good time as I’ve been wanting to investigate the watering down of CSR which seems to have quietly continued since the global recession. Is it down to over-stretched resources or a deliberate change in direction from the top? So instead of launching into my usual presentation I decided to experiment and asked 150 delegates who were senior managers from a range of blue chip companies “What makes a good company?” The […]

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Small businesses and social enterprises are the life blood of the communityDon’t crowd out SME’s

Small businesses and social enterprises are the life blood of the communityDon’t crowd out SME’s. by Colin Crooks The government’s ambition to innovate in public services and to create 2 million jobs in the private sector over the next 3-4 years implies a great opportunity for SME’s to grow.  Looking deeper though I am sceptical that this rhetoric will deliver for small business – rather it looks like the large corporations will get most of the opportunities and drive their margin by ruthless sub-contracting of small business. The reabsorbing of Quangos into their host departments, and the intense focus on […]

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Understanding End of Life Management

As published by FM World There are many factors to consider when purchasing. Juggling these conflicting criteria can be a real challenge.  Clearly cost is a major factor along with quality, compatibility, and increasingly the environmental credentials of the manufacturer. In recent years the disposal of the old equipment has been included. Very rarely though have I seen much attention given to the end of life management of the new kit being purchased.  I find this very short-sighted as the purchase of today soon becomes the disposal concern of tomorrow.  The WEEE directive, which covers waste electrical and electronic goods, […]

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Transformative nature of Reuse

Social Firms Conference Report Green-Works’ CEO Colin Crooks started the For What it’s Worth seminar on recycling by taking off his wedding ring. He held up the five grammes of white gold and said that its production had required “33 tonnes of ore to be extracted from the ground which was then soaked in cyanide to release the gold.  Just a few years ago cyanide soaked sludge from a Romanian gold mine flooded into theDanube causing an environmental disaster” Gold is not alone in being intensely polluting and inefficient. Manufactured products take more than ten times their own mass to […]

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Business and the Big Society

Published in the OFAS Newsletter (Office Furniture Advisory Service) When, a few weeks ago, David Cameron gave a positive response to a question in Parliament about putting deposits on bottled drinks he sparked a tremendous debate.  Overwhelmingly, the public responded favourably and passionately.   They picked up the idea and it rapidly moved on from just recycling bottles to refilling them like we used to do. The industry response via the British Retail Consortium was by contrast sour and negative.  It in turn drew a lot of irate responses from a public that seems to be increasingly cynical about business. It […]

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Persuasive Environmental Strategy

Published in FM World I’m just back from Portugal where I had a great time – thank you.  As is my want I took loads of photos over there and I’m really pleased with how they came out.  In some I’m pleased with the composition in others how I’ve caught the light.  But when I show them to the family and to friends hardly anyone stops at the landscapes or the castles at dawn. No. They stop at the family shots on the beach.  “What were you doing?” they ask or “You’re wearing that shirt again!” they say. Well, so […]

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Social Future Of Commercial Waste

As published in               Fresh Business Thinking Saving money and helping society is an unlikely combination, but if you take the new waste regulations seriously you could find yourself doing just that. It’s not often businesses get the chance comply with regulations whilst reducing costs and improving CSR, so the policy is definitely worth a look. To give you an idea of the bigger picture, in less than 15 years theUK’s amount of recycled municipal waste has increased from four to 36 per cent. That’s 8 million tonnes of stuff that used to go to landfill now being recycled every year. […]

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Attracting the big fish and creating a community asset

As published on the Guardian “social enterprise” website Looking back over the ten years since I started Green-Works I’ve had a chance to reflect both on what we’ve achieved and what’s still left to do. In the beginning we saw that office furniture was being discarded by large commercial and government organisations on an enormous scale. Not only was it being discarded but most of it was being dumped in landfill. As well as being a terrible waste of resources, it was also as a lost opportunity to help other smaller organisations who couldn’t afford new furniture. Adopting a Robin […]

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Corporate Social Responsibility; Solid partners or Fair Weather friends?

Fair-weather Friends? by Colin Crooks Corporate Social Responsibility is not a ‘nice to have’ which should become a sacrificial lamb in a cost cutting exercise.  Companies have invested heavily in their reputation as caring and considerate employers and responsible members of society for very good reasons.  Their employees are interested, and take positive encouragement from working for enlightened and highly regarded organisations. Cutting CSR programmes now when times are tough demonstrates only one thing – that such businesses are not the self-proclaimed stalwarts of the community and committed long term partners portrayed in their annual reports.  They are in fact fair-weather […]

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