Unveiling the Ultimate Guide to Sustainability and Climate Action!

Getting Serious About Sustainability 

Do you know if your setting is sustainable in today’s modern world?  

Would you be able to show evidence of your sustainability if asked? 

Could you do more to meet the challenges of sustainability and climate change? 

These are often difficult questions to answer, but we should not be afraid to ask them. Last month, the UN confirmed that global temperatures had exceeded the target of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels not once, but consistently for a whole year.  

Unfortunately, this is not akin to being on holiday and taking off a cardigan off to enjoy the warmer weather! Prof Sir Bob Watson, a former chair of the UN’s climate body, told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme:  

“Look what’s happened this year with only 1.5°C – we’ve seen floods, we’ve seen droughts, we’ve seen heatwaves and wildfires all over the world.” 

The world needs change, and it is now obvious that each one of us will need to ‘do our bit’ to reduce our carbon footprint. We must also up our game if we want a chance of winning. Filling our recycling bins each week is a good start, but we now need to address sustainability from a ‘must do’ rather than a ‘nice to do’ standpoint.  

One article will not change the world, but if it can help you make some changes in your individual settings, these can start to add up. The UK Government have pledged to become a net zero country by 2050 in line with international agreements. More than this, they have pledged to reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2030 – a 68% reduction. This will not happen overnight, but we all need to start planning now if we are to reach those goals.  

Your Starting Point To Sustainability

Anyone considering making changes to their business model or way of doing things needs to first assess and acknowledge where they are starting from, and this will be different for every setting. So, whilst the ‘next steps’ and action plans for each setting will be different, the principle of how and where to start is the same… settings need to know where they stand on sustainability, recycling and their carbon footprint.  

How To Make Your Setting Sustainable 

  • Step one: Take an audit of where you are with regard to sustainability, recycling and your carbon footprint 
  • Step two: Set SMART goals that you can work towards 
  • Step three: Take action to achieve your goals 
  • Step four: Review your progress and return to step one from your new vantage point 

The Federation for Small Businesses has a lot of advice for small business owners on how to make their businesses more sustainable on their Sustainability and Net Zero Hub. They have a free downloadable guide to help businesses get started and you can sign up for their newsletter too. They also have a free “Little Book of Net Zero” that you can download at: https://pages.bsigroup.com/l/35972/2023-12-14/3t76lq3  

Some of the areas they suggest businesses look at include: 

  1. Property – you can look at energy efficiency within the buildings you use and see if there are grants available to help improve this. If you only rent buildings, speak to the landlord 
  2. Your processes and procedures – this covers things like the time you are in the building and whether you switch off lights, power off appliances, turn down the heating or reduce boiler temperatures. In early years, it will also mean looking at things like food wastage, recycling, use of disposable or reusable nappies, eliminating single-use plastics, your water consumption, and whether you are using sustainable products and services such as biodegradable glitter and eco-friendly cleaning products 
  3. Energy suppliers – shopping around for different suppliers who align with your sustainability goals including energy suppliers and water companies. This should also encompass every other supplier you work with – what do you know about their sustainability goals and intentions? 
  4. Deliveries – delivery services boomed during the pandemic because there was little choice, but this is an area that now needs revisiting according to the FSB. In the early years sector, this is not as relevant as it might be for a pizza delivery company, but you can always question the journeys you and your staff make to see whether there are more sustainable options available. This could also encompass deliveries for things that you’ve ordered for the setting – do you plan ahead so things can come in one delivery? Or are things ordered ‘ad hoc’ increasing the need for several journeys?
  5. Lifestyle – here you can look at things like how staff and children get to your setting and if is there anything more you can do to improve the sustainability of this. For example, you could promote a ‘walk to work/setting’ day once a week or organise a car-share scheme, or a cycle-to-work scheme 

There are incentives available to businesses at: https://smallbusiness.co.uk/small-business-grants-uk-2548113/ and National Lottery funding for those who want to run community projects at: https://www.tnlcommunityfund.org.uk/funding/programmes  

Two other initiatives that could help kick-start your sustainability goals are Earth Hour Day and Global Recycling Day.  

Earth Hour Day 

This starts at 8.30pm in your own local time on Saturday March 23rd and lasts for one hour. During this time, everyone is encouraged to ‘switch off’ and give an hour to help the Earth. The aim is “to show symbolic support for the planet and to raise awareness of the environmental issues affecting it.” This year, as the need to do something more concrete increases, the organisers are calling on their supporters to not only switch off their lights but to also “give an hour for Earth, spending 60 minutes doing something - anything - positive for our planet.” 

What could you encourage your staff, children and families to do during this time? 

Sustainability Global Recycling Day 

The seventh annual Global Recycling Day is on Thursday 7th March, and it has a 2-fold mission: 

  • To tell world leaders that recycling is simply too important not to be a global issue and that a common, joined-up approach to recycling is urgently needed 
  • To ask people across the planet to think resource, not waste, when it comes to the goods around us  

The theme of this year’s Global Recycling Day is #RecyclingHeroes so this is a great time to promote recycling in your setting and perhaps give out your own hero awards to people who can upcycle your waste. What could you make from the things you’d normally throw away? 

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