The number of businesses signed up to the Prince of Wales' Mayday Network has almost doubled over the past year, defying fears that the economic downturn would dilute corporate interest in environmental sustainability.
BusinessGreen.com has learnt that the number of businesses in the network has increased by 87 per cent over the past 12 months to over 2,850 firms, cementing the initiative's position as the UK's largest group of businesses committed to taking action on climate change.
Lauren Sandler, marketing manager at the network, said that while the group had been founded in 2007 with support from a host of large corporates such as Marks & Spencer, Lloyds Banking Group and EDF Energy, the recent expansion had been driven by the addition of hundreds of small and micro-sized businesses to the network.
"Since May 2009 we've grown from 1,300 businesses to 2,862 firms and our focus has moved to supporting those businesses that need help the most - which means small and micro businesses," she explained. "Smaller firms do not tend to have a head of sustainability; it is often the office manager or marketing manager that is asked to manage the sustainability strategy, so we have developed a tool that helps take them through the necessary steps."
The organisation has developed an online guide, dubbed the Mayday Journey, which provides step-by-step advice on how firms should start to measure and reduce their carbon emissions.
Sandler explained that the aim of the network is to provide firms with a central point from which they can access the best practice advice they need to cut their environmental impact. "We signpost the organisations that you need to talk to," she said. "For example, we'll refer people to the Carbon Trust for help with measuring their emissions, or to Global Action Plan for help with employee engagement."
In addition to inviting more businesses to sign up to the group, the Mayday Network is also currently working on two major projects designed to promote the benefits of low-carbon business models.
Sandler said that the group was involved in a major research project to try and establish what an environmentally sustainable future would look like and is also working on a skills initiative to identify what green skills businesses need to develop.
"Our view is that the message around sustainability needs to shift from what you shouldn't be doing to why you should embrace sustainability," she said. "We are really trying to focus on the financial savings and the lifestyle benefits. "
The news comes as Prince Charles announced he is to undertake a five-day national "green tour" next month to promote sustainable living.
The tour will run from 6 to 10 September and will see the Prince announce a series of new green initiatives and visit a host of existing projects. He is expected to travel using the royal train, which runs using biofuel, and will attend events in England, Scotland and Wales designed to encourage initiatives such as local allotments and onsite renewable energ
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