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Doing Business Sustainably – feat. Giki

We caught up with Jo Hand, Co-Founder of Giki, a social enterprise focusing on helping people live more sustainably. Using their app, Giki Badges, and lifestyle guide, Giki Zero, they are providing people with tools and information about their impact on the environment, enabling them to make more informed decisions.

The purpose of our series “Doing Business Sustainably” is to feature experts, thought leaders and influencers within Sustainability. We capture and share their expertise. Peer to peer, whilst educating businesses and enabling the next generation of professionals.

Alys @ ADLIB : Could you please introduce yourself, your company, and your role?

Jo: My name is Jo Hand, I set up Giki Social Enterprise with my husband James in 2017, to help people live more sustainably and move closer to Net Zero lifestyles. In 2018 we launched a free app called Giki Badges, that rates UK supermarket products on whether they are sustainable and healthy. The app has been downloaded 50,000 times and over 80% of people change shopping decisions as a result of using it.

In 2020 we launched an interactive, step by step Net Zero lifestyle guide – Giki Zero, which enables people to measure, track and lighten their environmental footprint. It’s a practical, data driven approach that helps users to understand their footprint and then choose from over 100 steps to reduce it.

The personal version is free, the Pro version enables companies, universities, schools, and organizations to massively scale their sustainability impact, provides data to demonstrate this impact internally and externally and puts sustainability on the agenda for all employees.
My main role is working with businesses, communities, NGOs’ schools and universities to help people build sustainable lifestyles.

Alys @ ADLIB : Can you share the story behind the origin of the company and what its mission is?

Jo: Giki stands for Get Informed Know your Impact and was set up for one simple reason. We are facing a climate and environmental emergency and many people want to do the right thing but are not sure what “right” is. Almost no one wants climate change, endangered wildlife or plastic pollution, but the reality is that it’s a consequence of the lives that many of us lead in the world today.

We believe that if everyone can build their own personal plan for what they can do to protect their world, then we can all play a crucial role to preserve the environment on which we all depend.

Alys @ ADLIB : What has been your inspiration to work within Sustainability and what is your take on the importance of Doing Business Sustainably?

Jo: Previously I worked at a global climate change charity called CDP and before that, I was at the BBC and Channel 4 as a producer on the current affairs programme. My first introduction to climate change was 20 years ago when working on a programme on flooding. Climate change was a little known phenomenon then among the general public, but the science was already pretty clear.

At CDP I learnt a huge amount about how climate and environmental issues are key issues for businesses to consider. Already many businesses are affected by environmental issues, and this will grow in the future.
As a result, integrating sustainability into business is crucial. Some businesses will embrace this and lead the way, others will realise they have no choice. The potential for job creation in the green economy is huge. We are already seeing some great new trends emerging. We have recently been selected for the Tech Nation Net Zero programme, and there are some really exciting new businesses who are embracing the new opportunities.

Alys @ ADLIB : Could you share any challenges, barriers or preconceptions that you’ve come across and had to overcome regarding Sustainability?

Jo: Externalities, that is to say the environmental impacts of doing business, are not currently priced in effectively. This needs to happen, because otherwise businesses today are effectively borrowing from generations of tomorrow, by producing cheap goods, often at the cost of the environment. As a result, in wealthy countries, we are all able to buy, consume and waste far more than the planet can sustain. This is stacking up problems for the future, which are already starting to play out.

What is also fascinating, is the huge discrepancy in carbon footprints between rich and poor. A recent report co-authored by Oxfam, showed that the carbon emissions of the richest 1% are equal to the carbon emissions of the poorest 50% on the planet.

As a result, it is crucial that we all become more aware of our own environmental footprints and how we can work together to reduce them.

Alys @ ADLIB : Would you be able to share some of the wisdom that you have gathered around Doing Business Sustainably?

Jo: I have been fortunate both through my work at CDP and Giki to see the many opportunities that come from Doing Business Sustainably. Companies that embrace change and are well prepared for it, often perform better. As a result of the Covid crisis, we have seen some of the more traditional industries, for example the airlines and fossil fuel producers lose out. In contrast, new industries, such as much of the Tech sector, have boomed.

Not only are there many business opportunities, but collaboration is crucial. We work with WWF, UCL, the Open University, Youth Climate Summit and businesses to help staff, students and members to map out their own sustainable lifestyles. It is through partnerships that we will see more impact, faster.

In addition, expectations are changing. Younger generations often want to work for firms which go beyond profit and have sustainability built into their purpose. They are looking for guidance in their own lives too in terms of how to protect the planet. This means embedding sustainability across the business will become more and more important to attract the best talent.

Thank you for your time.