Climate Change – The Real Challenge

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Climate Change – The Real Challenge

By John Stanley At the recent H.T.A Conference, Charles Notcutt gave a passionate speech – “If mankind’s existence was condensed into the average life of a business, 30 years, then in customer terms the business would expect a customer count increase of 35000% in the next two years”. At present the first world needs three planets to keep it alive at present living standards. These are scary thoughts. Charles’ message was the industry needs six strategies to meet the challenges. Overseas suppliers will find it more difficult to serve the local market. Local growers have a huge opportunity. Irrigation. Recycling of water will be critical. Garden designers must design gardens to meet the new challenges. New plants need to be sourced to cope with the climate change. We need to re-introduce some of the old hardy plants. Publicity. Autumn is opening up as an ideal gardening period. The next speaker highlighted the challenge in more specific ways. Young children and teenagers are more perceptive about the future than any generation before them. In 1957 52% of people said they were happy, in 2007 the response was 35%. The solutions for the planet are simple. Low carbon Poverty free One planet economy The goal is well being, the opportunity is everyone in every religion enjoys a garden. Dr Ross Cameron’s approach was that we must start with the product, we must let the product do the talking. For example, if a patio heater did the talking it would say it burns the equivalent of energy to make 400 cups of tea every 30 minutes, a reason most retailers have dropped the product. A bench may tell you it comes form a deforestation zone in Indonesia. The products garden centres sell are critically important, we have to ask ourselves: Should we be embarrassed to sell this product? Should we be proud to sell it? Does the team know the product story? Wyevale Nursery Strategy Wyevale Nurseries are now the major player in the UK garden scene, it is worth looking at their strategy. Encourage carbon positive gardening (no patio heaters). Grow your own energy food. Ensure the supply chain benefits everyone. (That includes Fair Trade relationships with the Third World). Rediscover the local community. Work with Nature (video cameras in bird boxes are the big winner at present). Protect endangered forests. Reduce the dependency on peat. Use less water. Promote personal well being. Inspire ecological living in the garden. The Green Consumer Tim Briercliffe of the HTA revealed the results of the HTA GIM Omnibus Survey, “Gardens, Gardeners and the Environment”, a summary of the results are: 3 in 4 gardeners are concerned about the environment. 31% are very concerned. 42% believe climate change is the big issue. 9 out of 10 people believe plants are important to improve the built up environment. Domestic gardens are a key to improving the environment. What will trigger change? Catastrophe Legislation Peer Pressure The speaker went on to show that plants insulate buildings, saving 40% energy; provide wildlife habitat as we lose the countryside and provide local foods, hence reducing air miles. Good gardens use composting Whilst the bad guys are using two stroke engines to mow lawns, pest and disease chemicals, using excessive packaging in production and mowing lawns too regularly. Thoughts from IKEA Charlie Brown is the Environmental Manager for IKEA, a company rapidly entering this market. His power point started with – “I’m only one Person. Can one person make a difference? It is about making a choice, making a difference and leadership.” IKEA has the vision “to create a better everyday life for the many people they deal with”. That is 118,000 co-workers in 260 stores in 32 countries, plus millions of customers. The green category at present is 1% of their business (£7 million) but will expand rapidly. The one area they do not get into is “Green Washing” (saying one thing and doing another). They have a strategy and they keep to it. An example of this was the introduction of plastic bag changing. In the UK people used 17 ½ billion bags a year, 290 bags per person per year. IKEA were responsible for 32 million of them, enough bags to go end to end from London to Tokyo. They introduced a 5 pence charge and found a 95% reduction in bag use, 615,000 bags a week down to 33,000 a week and they saved £400K via bag saving, reduced transport costs etc. IKEA now have the blue bag a “green” polypropylene bag for life. IKEA also give co-workers a gift each year, last year it was a folding bike. Co-Innovation Dr Andrew Fearne of the University of Kent, Business School was the last speaker I had an opportunity to listen to. He promoted the concept of Co-Innovation. He feels Co-Innovation is for sustainable competitive advantage. It means everyone in the supply chain working together as partners to the better of the business and planet. His definition is: “The allocation and utilization of resources in a manner that is hard to contest and even harder to replicate”. It should add more value at a lower cost, faster than competitors whilst saving the planet. In the food industry co-innovation is now an accepted technique where everyone in a specific supply chain works together, to be successful it means: Innovation between organisations that is difficult for others to copy. Collaboration within and between businesses in the value chain with the aim to improve competitiveness. Internal boundaries are broken down. Beyond organisation boundaries are broken down. Products are developed for distinct consumers. Co-innovation means businesses in the chain get a mutual benefit, share the risk. Are inter-dependent and organisationally committed. To be successful there needs to be a strategic orientation and measured performance with an incentive structure. This must be consumer focused, value chain visible and build relationships with people. It allows for increased penetration of the market and/or increased purchase frequency. John Stanley is an internationally recognised conference speaker and retail consultant with over 25 years experience in 18 countries. He has authored several successful marketing and retail books including the best seller Just About Everything a Retail Manager Needs to Know. John’s retail experience covers hands-on retailing in supermarkets, hardware stores, garden centres, farmers markets and drug stores. For more information John Stanley and his services visit his website www.johnstanley.cc