‘Right now, climate change and the damage wrought on the environment by human behaviour have begun to take root in our collective consciousness. From school children striking to local social groups, we are beginning to see impressive results. Sustainability has shifted from a ‘nice to have’ to a core component of business strategy for many companies across the globe’.

The Cornwall Chamber of Commerce Sustainability Conference was held at the Lighthouse Cinema in Newquay on Tuesday 25th June 2019. It was a free event for business owners or employees charged with addressing the issue of sustainability.


The aim of the conference was to:

  • Learn about exciting local initiatives
  • Preserve Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly
  • Reduce business running costs
  • Address customers sustainability concerns.

There were 5 speakers presenting during the afternoon:

John Henry Looney – Sustainable Directionhttps://www.sustainabledirection.com/home/dr-john-henry-looney/

John was keen to address issues on sustainability on a local, national and international scale. He presented on carbon footprints and how business could and should strive to be carbon neutral.

He also highlighted the importance of Earth Overshoot Day https://www.overshootday.org/

Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources (fish and forests, for instance) and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. We maintain this deficit by liquidating stocks of resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

He also discussed Country Overshoot Days https://www.overshootday.org/newsroom/country-overshoot-days/ and the fact that this is creeping down every year and this is a problem that needs to be addressed.

John recommended that where possible, companies should try to work out their carbon footprint and work out how they can become carbon neutral. Although there are others available – he said that the WWF one was as good as any – https://footprint.wwf.org.uk/#/

Nigel Ponsford – South West Water Business

Nigel was keen to reiterate what a precious commodity water is and that many of us take it for granted that we will be able to turn on a tap at any time and get fresh, drinkable water or be able to use it to wash our clothes, clean etc.

Again, he wanted to highlight how much water goes into making various products and make us aware as consumers how it is used: https://www.watercalculator.org/water-use/

His overriding message regarding sustainability is that it’s not how much you use, but how much you waste that is key and this needs to be addressed by business and individuals.

Mark Roberts – Conscious Creatives – https://www.consciouscreatives.co.uk/

Mark spoke on how to bring sustainability into your business. He wants companies to get their staff to think about what comes to mind when they think of sustainability.

Their company specialise in the following:

  • CSR and Brand Integration – The process of moving from a company good at Corporate Social Responsibility to a company with strong ethics at its core.
  • Sustainable marketing for small businesses – Full marketing plans and plans for small to medium size businesses. Make more money and feel good about it.
  • Sustainability consultancy – Supporting your organisation to work towards the United Nationals Sustainability Goals.

The third point provided the focus for his presentation and he wanted us to focus on as companies and he wanted us to think about what one thing we could do as a company and as an individual to support the goals listed below.

Emily Stevenson – Beach Guardian – https://www.plasticfreepledge.com/south-west-emily-stevenson

Emily Stevenson gave us a history of how she became the beach guardian and her focus on eliminating the use of single use plastics. She also talked about her project and how she wants to support and challenge companies to make a difference. She also talked about the work that she does in schools highlighting the issues that we face in the future.

Emily said that her role and the Beach Guardian’s aims and objectives were:

  • More regular, organised, community beach cleans and to encourage participation in the #2MinuteBeach Clean initiative.
  • Educational events to discuss the impact on our local beaches and seas from plastics in the oceans.
  • To encourage more local businesses to support the ‘Final Straw Cornwall’ and ‘Refill Cornwall’ initiatives.
  • To encourage local councils to adopt the Surfers Against Sewage Plastic-Free status award.
  • To encourage all of Cornwall’s harbours and fishermen to engage in the ‘Fishing for Litter’ initiative.
  • To do art installations using plastics found washed up on local beaches to raise awareness.
  • To work with Visit Cornwall, Tourist Information Centres and holiday companies to ensure that visitors to Cornwall engage and are aware of these and other initiatives.
  • To introduce other schemes that have worked elsewhere on the country, such as ‘fill a bucket with plastic off the beach and claim a free cup of coffee’ at beach cafes etc.

Tom Kay – Finisterre – https://finisterre.com/

Tom gave a history on how he launched the brand Finisterre, where the idea came from and how they have tried to be at the forefront of ethical branding and look to continue this I their work today – in terms of design, production and marketing.

He then talked about the fact that Finisterre were B Corp Registered and what this meant.


Certified B Corps are a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit. Under this banner they are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment.

Tom explained that Certified B Corporations meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. Finisterre became B Corp certified in February 2018, meaning that that they are morally and legally committed to prioritising responsibility to the environment and society, from the staff at their HQ to the people who make their products.

Tom said that the assessment was rigorous, but they were very proud to have the certification and show that they were committed to sustainability. The assessment included in-depth interviews and evaluation of our business across every stage of our operations. He also explained that every two years, they must seek re-certification and that Finisterre are already putting improvements in place to better our score when we re-certify at the end of 2019.

The CSW Ambitions team in Cornwall has committed to swapping plastic milk bottles for glass for #NoPlasticJuly as part of their corporate social responsibility for reducing plastic.