Jane Stephenson

My journey began in 1983 with Friends of the Earth’s Bristol-based recycling collections. I have lived and breathed this work for the last 36 years and now reflect on my years’ seeking practical solutions to resource depletion and wider sustainability issues.

Much water has flowed since I was lobbying government to introduce recycling programmes and develop markets for recyclables. Today, the 3 ‘R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle are common parlance and the UK boasts a 45.7% recycling rate – although there remains work to be done to shift the focus onto reduction and reuse, as well as developing UK-based materials reprocessing.

Today, we are faced with unprecedented environmental and social challenges. These were predicted by the environmental movement I joined all those years ago but have only recently been acknowledged as real threats to the planet’s future.

As I move from the coalface, I’m optimistic that we have the resourcefulness to solve the problems we face, provided that we acknowledge one critical factor: the need to collaborate. If my work has taught me one thing, it’s that complex issues cannot be solved by looking at problems from one perspective. Addressing environmental challenges requires consideration of the wider social and economic forces. I have always embraced opportunities for partnership working.

Likewise, while the government’s resource and waste strategy, if implemented in full, would represent a positive move towards a circular economy, it cannot succeed in isolation. It is but one piece of a larger jigsaw that involves business, public bodies, communities and individuals, whose behaviour is pivotal to the more efficient use of resources. We should also acknowledge the role of the banking sector, including the businesses and individuals who invest their money in organisations that act responsibly. That’s why we bank with Triodos.

I’m optimistic that we have the resourcefulness to solve the problems we face, provided that we acknowledge one critical factor: the need to collaborate
Jane Stephenson

As a business, it’s the recognition of interconnectedness that leads to Resource Future’s holistic approach. By building the evidence base around material and waste collections, collating insight that is independent and multi-dimensional, and helping to change behaviours, we are mindful to transcend siloes. We work across value chains from policymakers to companies building sustainable business models, and charities who collect and repurpose items.

We accept that some work is profitable and some, less so. As a responsible business and BCorp, we support community action group networks, education work and Community RePaint, the national network developed with AkzoNobel. These models are the very essence of interconnected working with local authorities, community groups, schools and businesses.

My move to chair of Resource Futures is combined with my existing role as chair of Bath and West Community Energy, being an active member of Bath Quakers, supporting my 92-year-old mother, now in a nursing home close by, and making more time for gardening, walking and being with family and friends. And as I watch the inevitable turning of the tide below, I am aware of the circle of life and am ever hopeful that we will all work together to meet the challenges ahead.

About Resource Futures

Resource Futures is a sustainable resource management company. Its work focuses on high quality collection and expert analysis and interpretation of data to guide customers in the efficient use of material resources; and on the delivery of innovative behaviour change programmes. Resource Futures is a Certified B Corp.

The Colour of Money

This article was originally published in the spring/summer 2019 edition of the Colour of Money, Triodos Bank's inspirational magazine.

Our mission is to make money work for positive social, environmental and cultural change. The Colour of Money gives you stories, features, and interviews showing you how we do just that. 

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