British entrepreneurs urge businesses to put planet first

Two major British entrepreneurs have called for businesses to focus on the wellbeing of people and planet rather than the pursuit of short-term profit.

Dale Vince and Guy Singh-Watson, founders of two of the UK’s key green businesses Ecotricity and Riverford, have argued that the UK’s current capitalistic model harms people and the environment.

In a blog published on the website of Ecotricity, a green energy company, the pair have called for new measures of businesses’ success such as environmental sustainability.

Dale Vince, Ecotricity founder, said: ‘Capitalism has become a force of evil in the world and I don’t think it originated in that way and it doesn’t need to be that way.

‘The pursuit of profit has taken priority over people, over the environment, over everything.’

The blog follows the announcement earlier this month that 40% of insect species are declining due to over-use of pesticides, urbanisation and climate change, putting global ecosystems at risk.

Analysis published in the journal Biological Conservation found that butterflies and moths are amongst the species worst affected.

Guy Singh-Watson, farmer and founder of the organic veg box company Riverford, said: ‘The quest for short-term profits is what’s wrong.

‘For some reason we don’t measure success in the things that really matter so we measure it with money.

‘It should be measured in what you can do – what you can do for other people, what you can do for the environment. That’s the shift we need.’

Today, large retailers across the UK have been criticised for failing to take responsibility for the environmental and social sustainability of their businesses.

A report by the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) on sustainability in the fashion industry found that only 11 fashion retailers are signed up to an industry-wide initiative aiming to reduce carbon and water consumption.

Most of the clothes sold in the UK are also produced in Asian countries which have low costs of labour and weak environmental controls.

Late last year, the government released its draft Environment Bill which outlined how it plans to meet its 25-year environment plan. The final bill is set to be announced later this year.

Last April, Environment Journal spoke with Vince about his experience of owning Forest Green Rovers F.C., the world’s first ‘green’ football club.


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