Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

christmas dinner table

We’ll all probably consume more over Christmas. That might be food, alcohol, heating, entertainment, or just buying more stuff. Yet I’m hopeful it will also be about consuming more time with the people we care about.

Consumption certainly peaks in many countries at Christmas. But it’s not all bad news, so I thought I’d share a few good news stories relating to sustainable consumption.



Most scientists and world leaders agree we need to stop burning fossil fuels as soon as possible. Yet many global banks continue to fund new oil and gas exploration. The good news yesterday is HSBC announced it will stop doing so.

Given HSBC’s size and the amount it was previously lending to the industry, this is a significant move, sending signals to other banks and governments.



Tesco, has announced a great initiative to encourage the re-use of products to avoid waste. Its “Tesco Exchange” has been created to help more than 3,500 suppliers cut down production costs and reduce food waste. The scheme is an online marketplace matching suppliers with surplus stock to other Tesco suppliers that need it.

Suppliers can advertise their surplus stock and post requests for things they need. Suppliers will be able to agree sales between each other and set alerts when items they need are posted.

One of the first listings on the Exchange was made by a food manufacturer G’s that supplies pickled beetroot to Tesco. Its manufacturing process leaves them with tonnes of beetroot peelings that could be used by a livestock farm as cattle feed.



Typically, when we fret about single use plastics, we think about harm to sea creatures, beaches, and landfill inundated with plastics that will hang around for decades, if not 100s of years.

We think less about the emissions moulded into the plastic industry. In fact, plastics manufacture accounts for a larger proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions than aviation. Recycling therefore not only reduces the number of bottles discarded on a beach, but also restricts the emissions involved in the manufacture of new bottles. However, with the demand for plastics expected to increase in coming years, in line with a larger population and economic development, recycling in its current form is not expected to be sufficient.

An alternative solution currently being researched is the production of plant-based plastics. Researchers envision that subsidizing work on this development, in combination with increased recycling, could even turn plastics into a long-term carbon sink. This is still very much a possibility rather than a probability, but this kind of innovation is going to be crucial if we want to sustain a decent standard of living for the increasing number of people (and other forms of life) dependent on our planet.


Past, present, future

So, a little like the ghosts in Dicken’s Christmas Carol, we have talked about stopping emissions from energy past, an initiative that manages resources and waste present and scientific endeavour to reduce waste and emissions of the future.

I hope one or more of these developments will bring you some sustainable cheer!

I also take comfort and joy from the knowledge that the investments I recommend to my clients support the work to make traditional businesses of past and present more sustainable, as well as funding innovation.

ShareAction | HSBC announces it will no longer finance new oil and…

Tesco Exchange to help suppliers reduce food waste (

Researchers chart a path to carbon-negative plastic (

Photo by Yuhan Du on Unsplash

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