Sustainable business and Covid-19

By Fiona Stephenson

The team at the Sustainable Business Network are working our socks off during the Covid-19 pandemic to support our members and help co-create a more sustainable, regenerative economy.

We have written to the Prime Minister and ministers on behalf of our network, to ask that sustainability is put at the centre of every investment decision in the post-pandemic economy. Read the letter in full here.

The pandemic is profoundly affecting our economy. We are seeing many wonderful businesses close and people lose their jobs. We’re very focused on supporting our sustainable businesses through this period so they can thrive once this time passes.

‘Business as usual’ was already failing us. It was causing climate change, polluted water, growing piles of waste and social inequity. Now we have the chance to work together to move our economy onto a path based on low carbon, circularity of resources and regeneration of our waterways.

We believe it will be more important than ever that our economy is based on the principles of environmental and social wellbeing.

In the meantime we are here to help, so please get in touch.

How SBN can help

There’s no time like the present to upskill yourself and prepare your business for the new world ahead. We have created a series of online learning opportunities:

Capability training – a series of webinars on a range of aspects of sustainable business. Find out more here or look out for updates in our regular What’s On emails (sign up here).

Online networking to grow a sustainable supply chain – a range of online events designed to connect SBN members to help you do business together.

Practical resources – a new package of digital resources to help you learn about the fundamentals of sustainable business, including energy, waste, transport, procurement, wellbeing, online working and more. This includes a summary of our top sustainability tips to help you through these challenging times.

Free advice – as always our expert team is on hand to provide advice to businesses. This includes free advice to members through our Adviceline or more in-depth advice (at a cost, discounted for members) to all businesses through our Advisory service. We specialise in sustainability strategy, climate, circular economy solutions (such as plastic packaging and product stewardship) and water.

Project collaboration – our project work is continuing with our partners on plastic packagingproduct stewardshipclimate actionMillion Metres (waterway restoration) and restoring the Hauraki Gulf. Get in touch with james@sustainable.org.nzphil@sustainable.org.nzkate@sustainable.org.nz or holly@sustainable.org.nz if you’d like to be involved.

Learn & share networks – we are co-creating special interest groups to help organisations interested in common topics to learn and share together. Contact dave@sustainable.org.nz to find out more.

How SBN members can help each other

Our network comprises more than 600 businesses and social enterprises. Please support them by using their services wherever possible. Check out our searchable member directory for a full list.

Many offer superb online tools, learning, consultancy and support that can help businesses at this time:

Free coaching and support
Tickled Pink, recognising the stress that many businesses will be going through, is offering a range of its coaching, wellness and support services free of charge to SBN members. The Tickled Pink team includes a clinical psychologist, experienced business coaches and top wellness coaches. Chief Happiness Officer Jerry Beale says if a business is willing to pay even a token amount, it will make it easier for his team to support those that can’t.

ATEED has a free online tool to help Auckland businesses boost their digital know-how, including guidance on remote working, e-commerce and increasing their online presence to make it easier for customers to find them. Small and medium-sized enterprises can complete an online assessment and get a free, customised digital action plan.

Q2 Ltd’s business strategists and chartered accountants committed to sustainability are providing logical advice to help minimise the impact of the global pandemic and expected coming recession. Q2 is hosting a complimentary webinar on Tuesday 19 May at 2pm. It will help build resilience, outline things to consider and action, give supporting information to help engage with suppliers, employees, bank and advisors to drive empathetic and effective conversations, as well as outline ways to fast track the development of your plan. You can also view the video of Q2’s earlier webinar “Covid-19 Government Support Update”.

To access Q2’s earlier webinar “COVID-19 Government Support Update” – click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wq0txA4MSG4&t=8s

Improve your sustainability

Mainstream Green has a ‘pay what you can’ offer on its online speaking sessions to help businesses become more sustainable. Behaviour Changer and lead speaker Nic Turner will help you understand and harness behaviour change to motivate and enhance your sustainability journey. Nic will also share advice and ideas that are practical and easy to implement. Be empowered to make simple changes that have a big impact.

Give a meal
Kaibosh has a new way for you to help put food on the table for people in need. It’s Give a Meal in May campaign encourages you to donate what you would normally spend on a meal out. Each $20 donated helps to provide 29 meals to those who are struggling.

MeloYelo E-Bikes has been approved by MBIE as an essential service during the lockdown. This follows a similar ruling in the UK where bikes were deemed essential for health and social distancing. As a result MeloYelo E-Bikes is selling online and will organise contactless delivery. They also provide a step-by-step video to help you assemble your new e-bike. Check them out here.

Big Street Bikers is promoting electric delivery and cargo bikes to help businesses get up and running again with contactless and carbon zero delivery in a post Covid-19 environment.

Electric vehicle chargers
As an essential service Chargemaster has continued operating as a solutions provider for electric vehicle hardware and software. With turn key solutions the Chargemaster team makes the process of purchasing an EV charger easy. They’ll help you choose the best EV charger for your situation, manage the installation process and commission the unit so that you’re part of the shift to a cleaner, more sustainable future.

Arborist services
Four Season Tree Care Otautahi has been providing essential arborist services in Christchurch during the level 4 lockdown. It will provide the full range of its professional services during level 3. Managing Director Ra Hammer says the company has plenty of woodchip and is offering to supply other SBN members in Christchurch with a truckload for free.

Daily fitness classes
As all Les Mills gyms had to close, the company has collaborated with TVNZ to broadcast free daily fitness classes. Classes are available Monday to Friday at 9am on TVNZ 1 as well as a follow-up show at 3pm on TVNZ 2 geared at teens and younger viewers. The programming will also be available on TVNZ OnDemand for the duration of the lockdown.

No data cap on broadband plans
Trustpower has removed the data cap on its broadband plans. If you use more data there will be no additional charge. The company says the move is intended to help customers over the next few weeks as more people work from home and social activities are reduced.

App for eateries
Foodprint, originally a food rescue app that paired customers with surplus food, has expanded its service so customers can order from eateries in Auckland and Dunedin for contactless pick up.

App showing passenger crowding on public transport
Auckland Transport is running reduced services on trains, buses, and ferries for those working in essential services, for medical reasons, to access essential services, including getting to the supermarket, and to move essential goods. To help those people an upgrade to the AT Mobile app shows how many passengers are on a bus at any given time. This allows people to see if the recommended physical distancing of two metres will be achievable before they get on board.

Online training
The NZ Green Building Council has a number of webinars and online training sessions coming up. It also has a host of great training resources in its video library.

ReCreators is producing free online videos all about DIY and upcycling. Their ongoing series is aimed mainly at children with creative projects from origami and sewing to building a wooden robot. They’ve also made content for adult DIYers around power tool usage, furniture restoration and fabric crafting.

Activities for children at home
The team at Envirohub in the Bay of Plenty is working from home and has created a new programme called Envirohub Lockdown. It’s designed to help parents with young children by providing them with information and activities they can do in their own home or backyard. They have a new theme each week and are posting daily on Facebook.

WWF has created a series of fun educational resources to keep children entertained at home. Activities are designed to keep kids learning about the natural world including trivia, quizzes, arts & crafts, and tips for exploring backyards.

Sustainability Trust has compiled a School Holiday programme for children called Wilderkids.

Sustainability Trust is also running a creative waste competition to find a new lease on life for items that can’t be recycled. The competition is called Don’t Kick it to the Kerbside.

Wellington Zoo has come up with some fun resources for kids to help beat the boredom at home.

Three new ‘at home’ action medals from Toyota Kiwi Guardians offer nature-based backyard activities for Kiwi kids to take part in during the Covid-19 Alert levels.

Free seminars on ethical investing
Mindful Money is running a series of free and interactive seminars about what is happening in ethical investing and how we can all use our influence to direct finance towards sustainability as we rebuild from Covid-19. Join upcoming seminars in the series or view recordings on Facebook.

Financial and budgeting advice
Motif is offering assistance to SBN members to understand the different government support available; budgeting & cashflow forecasting; and employee and stakeholder engagement.

Collection services
Goodwood is maintaining two streams of operations during the lockdown in the Bay of Plenty. It is collecting woodwaste (pallets etc.) from essential services for recycling and manufacturing and supplying animal bedding under the Animal Welfare component of supporting the dairy sector.

We Compost and Supertrash are providing collection services for essential businesses and domestic households in Auckland. That includes apartment buildings, retirement homes, households, food manufacturing / production as well as supermarkets and healthcare providers.

PPE, face masks and hand sanitiser
LuckE, an eco sportswear company, has pivoted to produce reusable, washable face masks made from recycled plastic technologies.

Munch Cupboard has pivoted to making reusable cloth facemasks using the Outwork model (home workforce). They pay the living wage to people who would normally be excluded from the workforce. For the past five years Munch has made organic beeswax wraps to cotton items using the Outwork model to sell to large chains.

Little Yellow Bird is sourcing PPE equipment and supplying uniforms to some of its essential service clients. It has joined the Lanaco community mask initiative and is producing a NZ made mask using its signature 100% organic cotton with a replaceable filter. The company is donating 10 meals to migrant workers in India with every mask purchased, through its Meals for Migrants Partnership.

NZ Safety Blackwoods reports it is providing its customers and essential workers with as much hand sanitiser and PPE equipment that it can get! To keep up with the increasing demand it is interested in talking to any suppliers that might be able to produce or supply typically non-core but now-desirable safety items.

The team at Ricoh New Zealand’s National Distribution Centre has been hard at work 3D printing masks to be donated to hospitals and health centres across Aotearoa.

Community donations
Foodstuffs has announced it will donate more than $1 million to feed and support New Zealanders who are facing tough times due to COVID-19. The donation will enable existing partners to continue to support New Zealand’s most in-need individuals at a time when they have seen significant reductions in contributions and increased demand.

King Salmon is donating salmon portions to thank over 500 frontline health workers in Nelson and Blenheim for their efforts during the Covid-19 crisis.

Stansborough has produced a Covid-19 limited edition, heirloom collectors blanket and throw. With each sale Stansborough will gift $50 to Women’s Refuge, covering the cost of a two night stay for a women or child.

Ecotips at home while on lockdown
Caliwoods is producing a series of blogs titled Sustainability in Hibernation to help everyone stay safe, sane and sustainable during the Covid-19 isolation period. It’s full to the brim with positive, practical tips and ideas on what we can all do to care for ourselves, our families and the planet.

Office energy savings
Eco Geek Co has produced a short video explaining how building managers can find mega energy savings during the lockdown.

Cafe culture
Prima Roastery is running an initiative to help support the cafés it normally supplies but are closed during the lockdown. Now, when a domestic customer buys coffee from Prima Roastery it will send 25% of the sale value to that customer’s favourite café.

After a brief break Kōkako is supplying its Fairtrade organic coffee again through online orders and select food retailers across Auckland.

Car sharing
The Zilch electric car sharing service is available to essential service providers in Auckland and Christchurch, for long-term bookings. Zilch would love to help businesses operating during the lockdown switch to EVs instead of driving gas guzzlers. Sponsorship options are available for not-for-profits and community organisations delivering essential services. Free membership is currently available for businesses wanting to drive Zilch cars when restrictions are lifted.

Relocation service
Junk Run is working with Auckland District Health Boards to move entire wards, day clinics and surgical centres in preparation for COVID 19 patients. Instead of repurposing, recycling and “sending junk to a better place” it is reconfiguring and relocating essential resources between hospitals and to offsite storage warehouses.

Better Packaging is continuing to supply sustainable packaging supplies to essential services and businesses selling online. It is offering a free pack of 100 large comPOST packs or equivalent for new customers wanting to trial its products.

If you’re an SBN member and would like to add your service to this list, please contact fiona@sustainable.org.nz

Government support for businesses

Government help and advice for businesses

The Government’s wage subsidy for businesses

Workplace guidance for employers and employees on Covid-19