In his book “Climate, a New Story”, Charles Eisenstein makes the case for a complete reframing of the environmental story. He paints the picture of a man living in a labyrinth where the temperature becomes warmer.
The reason why this man is there is irrelevant. He desperately looks for a way out of the labyrinth, bumping compulsively against impasses and dead ends. Until he hears a sound, a music, which in fact is the voice of his lover. It doesn’t fundamentally change his options, but it changes his approach. He is now guided by love. He acts differently, intelligently.
What Eisenstein advocates for is a wholesale reimagining of the tactics we employ to move away from ecological destruction. He also urges us to move past the quantification of the ecological world, for expanding our focus on carbon emissions to a broader picture, to build a sense of empathy that recognizes the deep interconnection of our personal and environmental wellbeing.
What we own as New Zealand’s largest general merchandise retailer is probably close to what Eisenstein calls for: a sense of purpose that animates our decisions, a Here for Good perspective that serves as a rallying cry that our 13,000 team members keep holding with pride.
What we don’t have is time, nor a magic wand to instantaneously turn back the damage that has been done by people and organisations around the world over the years. But our track record and achievements speak to what’s possible when you take change seriously.
In FY19 alone we became carbon neutral, removed approximately 15 million single use plastic bags from our stores, launched our EV fleet and built the foundation to expand our ethical sourcing programs, all while strengthening the social dimension of our sustainability practice with the digitization of our Red Shirts programme in partnership with MSD.
We are in that labyrinth, and Here for Good is our music.
In this newsletter you’ll read about the Nirapon program in Bangladesh, our EV fleet launch, and our participation in the Government’s recently announced product stewardship consultation lead by Eugenie Sage, Associate Minister for the Environment.
Something electric is in the air
Back in 2016, we announced our commitment to transition 30% of our light vehicle fleet to electric vehicles (EVs). Thanks to our fleet partners, Hyundai New Zealand and Custom Fleet, we’ve been able to bring our commitment to life. Earlier this month, the first batch of those 72 cars in total began arriving here in New Zealand and hitting the road around the country.
Sustainability beyond our borders
Across The Group, we offset the greenhouse gas we emit by investing in projects that fund the equivalent amount of greenhouse gas savings elsewhere.
Offsetting helps to combat global climate change as well as caring for local communities, which makes it a compelling win-win for organisations looking to drive change.In many instances, these credits provide much needed employment, health improvement, increased biodiversity and broad social benefits to impoverished communities around the world.
In support of product stewardship
Imagine a world where benefitting the environment through your choices wasn’t merely suggested or encouraged, but mandatory. What would the impact be on our land, water, air and overall health?
We think it would be extraordinary, which is why we’re proud to be participating in the Government’s recently announced product stewardship consultation lead by Eugenie Sage, Associate Minister for the Environment.
The Government defines product stewardship as when a producer, brand owner, importer, retailer or consumer accepts responsibility for reducing a product’s environmental impact. Product stewardship helps us transition from a linear to a circular economy, where items are continually re-used instead of heading straight to landfill at the end of their life.
Eugenie Sage remarked in the initial announcement that, “Well-designed product stewardship schemes ensure that those making, selling and using products all help take responsibility to recover the materials and avoid them ending up in landfills.”
The consultancy piece is about making product stewardship schemes mandatory on six proposed priority products, including:
- packaging, including beverage containers and plastic packaging
- electrical and electronic products (e-waste), starting with lithium-ion
- refrigerants and other synthetic greenhouse gases
- agrichemicals and their containers and other farm plastics.
“We’re looking forward to participating in this consultation with the support of our stakeholders and the Packaging Forum,” says David Benattar, Chief Sustainability Officer at The Warehouse Group. “Our submission will focus on effective, practical, environmentally friendly ways to reduce waste to landfill and help tackle these six proposed priority products.”
After the first stage of consultations end on 4th October, the co-designing of the scheme will commence.
Spreading the word on our environmental initiatives
Last month, our Environmental Initiatives Manager Tom Kelly had the pleasure of speaking at the inaugural EMBARK conference held by the Climate Leaders Coalition. The all-day event was designed to empower business leaders in New Zealand to take action on climate change and share their perspective. As a Founding Signatory of the coalition, we were pleased to share our learnings since the start of our emission reporting journey, and what other organisations can learn from us. Read a recap of Tom’s speech here.
Additionally, Tom attended the ClimateX conference, a 2.5 day event designed to confront the challenge of climate change head-on. He offered his top takeaways of the event in a write-up here.
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