“ Edghill steering Green machine ”

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by Gercine CarterA green revolution is about to sweep through businesses across Barbados as the island moves to alter its ecological footprint and ensure sustainability.  Green Business Barbados, an initiative being led by the Future Centre Trust (FCT), aims to promote and create a change in generational thinking, which will be of direct benefit to businesses specifically and to the country as a whole.  The Future Centre Trust is a non-profit organisation started by the late Dr Colin Hudson about 15 years ago, with a mission to educate the public on environmental issues and sustainability, and Lani Edghill, along with the FCT’s administrative director Nicole Garofano, has been working at realising Hudson’s vision. The Green Business programme came out of an FCT visioning session last year. Edghill is coordinating the initiative, and she emphasised the change in attitudes was necessary to ensure the sustainable use of resources, both local and imported.  “Barbados has the opportunity with this project to show the world we are taking serious interest in reducing our carbon and ecological footprint,” says Edghill.  “Not just taking an interest, but taking action as we, through the same process, implement adaptation measures to reduce the impact of climate change on the country and the region.”There are five components to the Green Business Barbados project – water reduction and recycling, energy conservation and renewable energy development, pollution control and management, water conservation, education and outreach. The area of waste reduction and recycling, for example, focuses on measures such as using reusable bottles instead of plastics and recycling of everything from cardboard to metal.  Edghill, an environmental planner, developed and coordinates the programme,  which is based on similar programmes throughout the world. She intends for the standards she has created for the    Green Business Barbados programme “to eventually become a certification programme” for businesses.  “Green business programmes are not just about going into businesses and putting in fixtures; it is about educating employees on ways they can change their behaviour to be more sustainable,” she remarks. The Green Business programme started in April. The British High Commission funded some of the start-up cost and also became the first Green Business in Barbados.  Other businesses have since come on board, and Edghill reports the programme is expanding. She works with three companies at a time, coordinating the specific programme tailored for each one. There are others waiting in the wings, and Edghill also has her eyes set on the hotel sector, hoping to get the small intimate hotels involved first.  “In the Green Business Programme we really focus on environment because not only does it focus on businesses as being socially and environmentally responsible, which is what the market is calling for now, but on top of that I speak to businesses in terms of their bottom line. When I come in with the programme I help you to reduce your energy consumption and your water consumption,” Edghill remarks. Businesses signing on to the programme enjoy the benefits of several services and products. There is an initial assessment period in which a Green Team is identified to spearhead operational changes within the business or organisation, and a Green Strategy and Action Plan is devised, all with the assistance of the FTC coordinator.  An assessment of existing conditions within the business follows and a report is  issued with recommendations on how to green the business further. There is also green training for employees. Once the company finally achieves Green Business Barbados status, it is issued with the Green Business Barbados logo and it is then subject to annual reassessment in order to retain that status. Why all the green buzz? Edghill explains: “Greening is becoming a fad all over the world, and the word is a mere substitute for sustainability, which has three focuses – environment, economy and society.”  “Our modern world is developing so fast people are realising it is important to sustain the environment that surrounds us because essentially that is how we continue to live on this earth. The society must be involved.”  She adds: “We are trying to create a green economy in Barbados. That means there has to be an element of change . . . in one way or another we have to change our thought processes to be a little bit more sustainable.” “Right now our waste stream is so large that we cannot find enough space to landfill everything . . . there are certain things that are just not needed, like plastic cups for instance. We are taught to believe that we need them but we really don’t.  “So we have a major issue in Barbados and we cannot continue to throw away things the way we do. The shift is for our health and our environment.”  The Nation Publishing Company is one of the early companies to get involved in the project, and CEO Vivian-Anne Gittens argues: “It saves money and it sustains the business in the long term”.Meanwhile, Edghill has also been working with the Small Business Association and the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association to impart some of the ideas and concepts among their membership pool.