Posted: Tue 18th Oct 2022
Linda Ward has joined Enterprise Nation as an adviser on the Plan it with Purpose programme.
Enterprise Nation has joined forces with AIB and GS1 (Global Standards 1) Ireland, designing a programme to help Irish business owners develop a better understanding of environmental and social issues so they can implement relevant changes to their own business for a better future.
We grabbed a word with Linda to find out what drew her to Plan it with Purpose.
What is your background in sustainable retail?
I'm a retail professional – I've got a lifetime of business experience. I worked for a lot of big-name retailers like Marks and Spencer's, Debenhams and Body Shop.
I set up my own company about 14 years ago now and that was as a retail consultant. But all through the time that I've been a retail consultant, I've also been working with the charity shop sector. I'm the executive secretary of Charity Retail Ireland, which is the representative body for charities that operate shops as part of their fundraising efforts.
It was my work within the charity shop world that brought me in touch with the whole fast fashion side of the environmental impact of retailing. Charity retailing has been an example of the circular economy long before the term "circular economy" was even invented.
How did you become interested in setting up Green Zebra?
Three years ago, I just suddenly realised that these two worlds really needed to be to combined – business and sustainability. I've been a lifelong environmentalist anyway.
I went on the University of Cambridge business sustainability management course and that really fired up my enthusiasm to really try and merge both parts of my businesses. It's really out of that Green Zebra was born.
What does Green Zebra do?
Sarah and I realised that we were both sort of striving for the same thing, which is to get businesses to go green – and that's what we've done.
Green Zebra is really there to build green businesses and it's as simple as that really. It's to encourage SMEs to adopt sustainability principles in how they operate their businesses.
We help people to write a sustainability strategy and policy, and to embed sustainability into their business model. And it's only by doing that that we will actually be able to reach the target set for 2050 by the UN.
We put together an eight-pillar programme, which basically covers all the areas that businesses need to look out in terms of their sustainability – energy, waste, water, transport, supply chain, biodiversity, people and strategy. We have a one-hour workshop on each of those subjects.
What made you want to get involved in Enterprise Nation’s Plan it with Purpose?
A lot of the things that Enterprise Nation is trying to do actually chimes in with what we believe is our purpose in Green Zebra. We want businesses to be more sustainable, for people to build greener businesses, to do it in a very practical way, and to actually make a difference.
Our purpose is making business sustainability easier and helping people to understand the value of learning together, reducing their carbon footprint, developing sustainability strategies, and creating businesses with purpose. A lot of that is what Enterprise Nation is all about as well.
Use the Plan it with Purpose sustainability discovery tool
Answer some questions about your business and get a tailored action plan that tells you where to find support, resources and advice you need to be more sustainable. Take me to the tool