If you want everyone to pull in the same direction, it is important to agree on a destination. So, we have just released Riverford’s second annual Sustainability Report – detailing where we are headed, how we will get there, and our progress so far, with a few measurable milestones to keep us on track. The climate crisis is at the heart of the report, but it also embraces social justice, B Corp certification, plastic usage, and other ethical issues.
I am very proud of what our sustainability and ethics Manager, Zac, has achieved, with the support of our 1,030 co-owners; the report is thorough, thoughtful, and honest about what we currently measure (and what we don’t), where progress is good, and where we can improve.
We have come a long way in the three years since we first started measuring our carbon footprint annually. I am confident that we will go even further in the next three years, moving towards our agreed destination of net zero emissions by 2030. However, as well as we are doing, there is a bigger picture.
Reading this report, some might be tempted to hold Riverford up as an example of what all businesses could do in the absence of government action. But we are unique and privileged in so many ways: we are employee owned, largely free of debt, and not beholden to impatient investors. Many of our customers have the financial freedom to make choices denied to some – and even more importantly, they are extraordinarily interested, educated, and supportive of our ethical choices.
Don’t let our progress be a fig leaf to cover the government’s inadequacy. Rather than showing that it is possible for businesses to find the solutions to get us out of the mess we are all in, Riverford may be the exception that proves the rule. Let’s be honest; most businesses, especially large ones, exist to make money for their owners. It is more or less enshrined in law.
Businesses can be extraordinarily innovative in finding solutions and implementing them fast, but we desperately need the government to provide a framework that incentivises a drastic reduction in the burning of fossil fuels. That can only mean making them more expensive, either through direct taxation, or indirectly through a meaningful carbon tax. With the Doomsday Clock at 100 seconds to midnight, this simple, blindingly obvious solution is all that matters.
You can read our full Sustainability Report online here.
If you have any trouble accessing the animated PDF above, try this simplified version.