I often describe myself as a campaigning consultant – I believe in what I do. This means that I encourage the companies I work with to be proactive about environmental issues, rather than simply respond to outside pressures.
Over the past 25 years, I have worked with a diverse range of business sectors from detergents and cleaning products to tourism, from disposable nappies to computers, from supermarkets to food and from chemical companies to the financial industry. My particular strengths are looking at businesses from a consumer perspective, being challenging and not forgetting the bottom line.
I was one of a dozen 'opinion formers' invited to a dinner at Sainsbury's HQ, with Justin King. The meeting was chaired by Anna Ford - former newsreader - shortly before she stood down from the Sainsbury's board...
The Ashridge building and grounds were spectacular. I was asked to speak to post-graduates doing an MSc in Sustainability and Responsibility by Ashridge Business School...
Procter & Gamble, manufacturers of Fairy liquid, asked me to write some consumer advice about the greenest way to wash dishes. One of my bug bears is people who rinse their plates under the tap before putting it in the dishwasher - either wash the plate or put it in the dishwasher...
Ashridge Business School - www. ashridge...
I've sat on P&G's Expert Advisory Panel for Babycare since is started a few years ago. The fourth meeting was held in June in Geneva and had several new participants...
In 2011, I set up E For Good, with Melinda Watson .We’re campaigning to reduce the amount of electrical waste (e-waste) as well as setting up systems to increase repair, reuse and efficient recycling. This is the focus of my work in 2012.
I’ve sat on P&G’s Expert Advisory Panel for Babycare since is started a few years ago. The fourth meeting was held in June in Geneva and had several new participants. Most interesting to me was the new focus of looking at nappies and baby care in developing countries. Also the innovations that are coming through. Please click here for link to the fact sheet I’ve written comparing re-usables and disposables.
One of the most difficult eco-decisions I’ve had to make is whether to use cloth or disposable nappies. I chose disposables. Given that I’m a big campaigner on reducing waste, this might seem surprising. But my view was that the environmental differences between the two products were not so great – and disposables performed better. And over the last 12 years, since my youngest child was born, there have been a significant reduction in materials used in nappies – see Pampers Active Fit. Procter & Gamble, who make Pampers, asked me to write a leaflet on the issue, giving my views on this controversial issue. Click her for link to pdf of leaflet.
When people buy a dishwasher, they still hand wash many of their dishwashers – in fact they only reduce their use of washing up liquid by 25%. So when you’re thinking about green dishwashing, it’s not so much a question of whether you do it by hand or by machine, it’s how you do it.
Recognising that the biggest impact in the life cycle of dish washing detergents is during consumer use, P&G asked me to write a leaflet on how to minimise your impact at home. The biggest issue is the energy needed for heating the water, followed by how much water you’re using.
The first meeting of the Fabric & Homecare expert advisory committee took place in March 2007, at a splendid location outside of Brussels. The idea is to provide an external perspective and help identify emerging environmental trends. Although the focus is on detergents and cleaning products, we have had presentations from other sectors within P&G, including batteries. This team have now met three times – most recently in March 2009 – so we have been able to see progress being made on the issues we’ve raised. And the idea of an advisory panel have been picked up by the Babycare team at P&G – see below.
P&G have a website called Science in the Box, which provides information on their safety and sustainability approach.
I first got involved in the debate about disposable nappies vs re-usables in the early 1990s.
The comparisons were being made in eco-labelling research and I was sitting on the UK Eco-Labelling Board. The over-whelming concern about disposables was the amount of waste they produce. Local authorities have teamed up with campaigning organizations to encourage people towards re-usables.
But the issue is far from clear cut. Whilst disposables nappies do produce more household waste, re-usables can have a bigger carbon footprint because of all the washing that’s needed. And one issue that’s often over-looked in this debate is about nappy rash. The absorbent gel in disposable nappies is incredibly efficient, which means there’s less moisture in contact with the babies skin, and therefore less nappy rash. This could mean using less nappies during a babies lifetime.
I sit on the P&G baby care expert advisory panel, which has formally met a couple of times, most recently in June 2011. I’ve also been involved in numerous discussions on this issue both at P&G and with outside stakeholders. And in September 2009, I was asked to speak at the trade association conference on disposable hygiene products, in Malta – see below.