Co-operatives UK: leading by example

Co-operatives UK wanted to develop a better understanding of what sustainability meant to them as an organisation and then to think about how to apply it internally and to members. We designed and ran a workshop to assist all staff to collectively develop a definition of sustainability. Core to the session was an exercise where people ‘transported’ themselves to a remote island and worked out the rules to live by so life might flourish indefinitely. Going back to basics like this allows participants freedom to develop ideas free from everyday constraints.

Comparing and combining these outputs with Co-ops UK’s current sustainability efforts led to a set of ‘golden rules’ being established. These were designed to guide what sustainability means to the business and establish a purpose to influence decision-making.

After the workshop, a new group, facilitated at the outset by ourselves, was set up and tasked with taking forward environmental sustainability elements in particular. Led by the Facilities Manager, the Group has targeted waste management, paper use, energy demand and event impacts (including food) for action. Changes and activity have included new lower impact printers, motion sensitive lighting, exploration of PV, a review of the possibility for adopting ISO14001, the employment of a student to help with data collection and the introduction of interest free loans for public transport.