Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Its tough sometimes being a person with a sustainable environmental business because a lot of those who love to use the words and phrases environment, conservation, sustainable, green, save the world, get in touch with the earth, make a difference, transition to a new future etc find the word 'business' sits very uneasily with them.....now before you all bash me I know what the problem is or seems to be....businesses are seen as efficient, occasionally dishonest, pushy, low levels of morality, brash and just a bit to normal....
Maybe I have got it wrong? But its very interesting as I have come to these conclusions reluctantly through reactions to what I do by the folks who need to be the most supportive!
Lots of people want to 'come and pick my brains' about what I do, they come and visit the unit, often because they would like to be involved in a similar project....great! I don't mind chatting and telling it as it is!
Others have wanted to work with me, and a couple have for a bit but have found out that running an environmental business is not 'fluffy' .....that its hard work!

I often muse on why businesses that are very successful with terrifically high morals and ethics like Riverford and Cafe Direct are often criticized to death by the 'environmental types' and to be honest I just cannot understand it........they are very successful businesses.....is that the root of the problem? Do we all like an under dog, someone who tries but fails, a reason not to be successful, a reason to moan?........... I just don't know!
But its got me thinking a lot! .........and I think somehow its a British thing! We are not radical in an ordinary way......we like to look the part for the lifestyle we choose so an environmentalist is often seen as a person with hippy clothes and hair, several piercings, maybe a tattoo of something celtic..........but never as a bloke in a smart suit with a crisp shirt!!!

At home here we are possibly at our most sustainable but we look very ordinary.....too ordinary at times! I wear very boring normal clothes...most second hand. We shop very ordinarily in supermarkets and local shops but make a point of demanding local produce and buying nothing that is out of season or from the other side of the world. We drive.....and yes we have 3 cars....horror of horrors.....but we use them responsibly and for the purpose intended eg we do not use the 4x4 except for towing logs or livestock or wool!
We do not fly.....at all, and never will.....! We have a tv, the kids have an X box and a DS (those who are in the know will know what they are!) and we have computers.
We grow wood, veg, meat and reuse every last thing we can eg the cereal box insides are used to wrap the packed lunches.
I am not claiming sainthood but just pointing out we do not live in a yurt, a green wood building, nor an eco home, just a house.....we don't wear the 'right' clothes, we don't cycle everywhere because we cannot...BUT we want sustainable and ethical to be normal!
And when it comes to my business we want people to get involved.....come along and help for a day!


Christine Gardener said...

Val, I completely agree, and we are right behind you. Life is always a compromise between practicality and principles, and you go further than most in living by your ideals.

Keep up the good work (and it IS hard work.)

Blu said...

Get that wool off your chest and say what you mean Woolly.LOL You try your very best which is much more than many people do. Life is a big juggling act, wishing you lots of success..BRAVO!

Flowers said...

Your blog is interesting. It was nice going through your blog. Keep it up the good work.

Compostwoman said...

Agree with you 100% Val....I have a similar issue with my business.( Environmental Education / Forest School Leader...)

Its as if being in an "eco" business somehow means one is not expected or allowed to make a financial success of it?

Surely it would be better if all busineses were like us, successful financially AND sustainable and environmentally friendly?

Good luck with the awards, anyway!

Anonymous said...

Go vegan and save the planet.
Do away with violence towards sentient creatures.

Val Grainger said...

Well Anonymous....shame you did not have the courage to leave your name...possibly because you thought you would be able to irritate me but I would not publish your comment!!!
Wrong!.....your views deserve an answer...
Going vegan will not save the planet being responsible will....I sincerely hope that if you are a vegan you do not wear polyester, acrylic, plastics or other man made fibres, most of which are made from oil...
I also sincerely hope you don't wear cotton which uses 85% of the worlds pesticides to grow it nor organic cotton which uses scarce water resources!
Of course you would not possibly eat soya nor use anything containing palm oil....would you? as both are causing the destruction of the rainforests!
As for violence towards sentient creatures I do sincerely hope you include the dead from unjust wars like the recent israeli/palestinial conflict that resulted in hundreds of dead innocent palestinian women and children or those starving to death in Kenya so that we can eat beans!
Vegan food for thought eh?