Lead by example. It is simpler to establish a habit in young children than to teach them a new habit as they get older. Teach them about recycling and which items go into which bin. Teach them about littering, keeping lights off, and turning off the water when they brush their teeth.
As part of my series about what we must do to inspire the next generation about sustainability and the environment, I had the pleasure of interviewing Ketan Dattani.
Ketan Dattani is a multi-award-winning entrepreneur that has been featured on London billboards and in numerous prominent media publications.
He holds over 20 years of recruitment experience and has a high profile within the sector. He is widely documented as an expert on Employment Law, Employee rights and for providing Careers Advice.
Ketan is the Founding Owner and CEO of Buckingham Futures, a specialist award-winning Environmental Recruitment Business that provides bespoke permanent and temporary recruitment and consultancy solutions to public and private sector employers.
By fostering long-term relationships with national and global brands, Ketan has been able to successfully bridge the typical difference between expectations and reality of recruitment consultancy.
Academically Ketan is a graduate of Environmental Biology and a post-graduate of Environmental Planning and Management.
He also holds a Certificate in Employment Law and The Certificate in Recruitment Practice which is a nationally recognised recruitment qualification developed jointly by the REC and key employers.
Ketan’s corporate policies and actions are designed to reduce carbon footprint, give back to the community and encourage the protection of the environment.
Outside of business, Ketan volunteers with a number of schools, colleges and universities providing careers guidance, CV & interview technique workshops, and conducting mock interviews with those looking to embark on a career within the environmental sector.
He also offers work experience programs and opportunities at Buckingham Futures for students, young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and adults with learning difficulties to help achieve their potential by giving them an insight into the world of work.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
I was born in Leicester in the early 1970s after my parents were forced to come to the UK from their birthplace of Uganda by Idi Amin the military dictator.
Idi Amin had declared economic war on the tens of thousands of people whose forebears had come from the Indian subcontinent, confiscating their property and businesses.
My parents were lucky that they were merely deported, rather than butchered like thousands of others.
My early memories are of growing up in a small house with lots of uncles and aunts and tons of cousins. With the loss of much of Leicester’s industry during the mid-1970s my parents had to move to London to seek employment.
In London, our economic situation wasn’t the best. We lived in a rented room until the birth of my sister. It was then that we were allocated a flat in a council estate.
Sadly, there were not many prospects in my area however there were abundant difficulties with safety, racial violence and substance abuse.
As a child, seeing my parents daily struggle as Ugandan refugees have contributed to my development and where I am today.
Was there an “aha moment” or a specific trigger that made you decide you wanted to become a scientist or environmental leader? Can you share that story with us?
From a young age, I established an avid interest in Environmental matters. My interest was sparked when I spent a summer holiday with my grandparents in Coventry.
Even though I was only four years old I remember so vividly the fresh air, clean playgrounds, birds singing and open green spaces.
It seemed a world away from my environs of passed-out vagrants, lifts smelling of urine (if they were working), smashed street lights, graffiti, broken bottles, burnt-out cars and boarded up windows.
Having failed miserably in the school system it was my avid interest in Environmental issues that led me back to into the academic arena and to my choices of undertaking an undergraduate degree in Environmental Biology and a post-graduate degree in Environmental Planning and Management.
Is there a lesson you can take out of your own story that can exemplify what can inspire a young person to become an environmental leader?
During my adolescence, my uncertainties manifested as a series of failures. My unshakeable belief in my ineptitude stopped me from truly trying to succeed. Unwittingly, I was conforming to a self-fulfilling prophecy I had set for myself.
Regrettably, I got mixed up with the wrong crowd and as a consequence under the supervision of the probation service, I had to undertake 300 hours of unpaid work which included clearing public land of fly-tipping, fixing footpaths and removing graffiti in public spaces.
Ironically it was this hands-on work in an outdoor setting that gave me real-life environmental experience that boosted my interest and enthusiasm of environmental issues and helped aspire for a brighter greener future.
Sadly the 1980s was an era of ceaseless environmental ignorance and I found that most of my peers were content to watch the world go by, detached from the conservation and ecological issues plaguing our environment.
Thankfully things have changed immeasurably. Now, more than ever, there are various groups where young people can meet like-minded individuals, to share their views on environmental issues, network and make friends.
From my voluntary experience of working with schools, colleges and universities, when asked, the vast majority of young people nowadays do care immensely for the environment and, indeed, the future of our planet.
The online realm is a great place for a young person to start their journey to become an environmental leader. They have at their fingertips the phenomenon that is social media to
inspire others through their encounters in nature or fanning the flames of action through motivational outpourings.
On social media young people can join local environmental groups where they will be offered numerous volunteering opportunities such as eradication of invasive species, raising money, leading nature walks and digging ditches.
They could correspondingly proposition local newspapers to offer their views on topical environmental issues, write to their MP to express concern on green issues, or, for those with a particular knack for literature, submit a piece to a popular magazine or mainstream newspaper as the written word has the power to inspire inquisitiveness, intrigue, and commitment that can lead to change.
My advice to future environmental leaders would be to raise a clamour, educate, inspire, or take up a placard. Action is always better than inaction, and whatever they do, however small, will contribute to a brighter future for the environment.
Can you tell our readers about the initiatives that you or your company are taking to address climate change or sustainability? Can you give an example for each?
Sustainability is a key consideration for Buckingham futures to ensure that we are environmentally conscious in all of our practices to endeavour in saving both time and money.
Below is a list of the KPI’s tracked at Buckingham Futures when considering the environment.
∙ Carbon/Water Footprint
∙ Supply Chain Miles
∙ Energy Consumption
∙ Saving Levels due to conservation and improvement efforts
∙ Supplier Environmental Sustainability Index
∙ Product & Waste Reduction/Recycling Rate
We have found these KPI’s very instrumental. For example, measuring Supply Chain Miles is a powerful indicator of how far products are travelling before reaching us. This KPI is then used to make decisions on our choice of suppliers, not just to reduce carbon footprint along but costs too.
In addition, measuring Energy Consumption rate provides us with an understanding into the amount of energy being consumed by the business, this can then be tracked against previous months and the best months to establish the company’s performance in energy efficiency.
Where possible we work towards recruiting for candidates that live locally to our clients and advise on commuting methods such as walking, carpools and cycling. Working within the Environmental Services sector, it is important for our candidates, clients and Buckingham Futures alike to encourage sustainability and such for some of our clients pose the screening question of ‘confirm the method of transport the candidate will use throughout travelling to their placement’, to commit to the shared ethos and initiative of promoting environmental concerns such as clean air.
At Buckingham Futures we promote and adhere to the principles of the 3 R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle.
We take our own bags shopping, make coffee in the office rather than getting a takeaway vending cup and we encourage staff to buy unpackaged products.
We have published a travel plan, which is sent to all visitors to our offices, with details of bicycle locking stations, bus and tube routes (as well as emphasizing that we can do video conferencing).
We are based near to a wide range of local shops and businesses. This encourages spend within our local area in small owner-managed shops.
Job vacancies are advertised locally to attract local workers, ensuring that the community and local businesses benefit from increased employment.
All ink cartridges are recycled and we keep our paper usage to a minimum, communicating via e-mail whenever possible.
Any paper that is used and not needed is shredded in line with data protection and then recycled.
All our staff are aware of this policy and together we are working to make our carbon footprint as small as possible.
At Buckingham Futures, we endeavor to maintain that we have a positive impact on the environment.
Can you share 3 lifestyle tweaks that the general public can do to be more sustainable or help address the climate change challenge?
On the surface, it can be incredibly daunting to reduce your environmental footprint, especially when you feel that others around you are not doing their part. But when you break it down into small steps, you realise you have more power than you think.
My 3 lifestyle tweaks that the general public can do to be more sustainable are:
- Reduce food waste
More than one-third of all food produced globally is wasted. Here in the UK, a government inquiry in 2015 found that 8 million tonnes of food are wasted annually with a value of around £16 billion a year.
This food waste ends up in landfills. This, in turn, provides 20% of all methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes considerably to climate change.
One of the most important things we can do is shop smartly. When you go food shopping, make sure you don’t buy too much food.
Plan out your meals, and make a detailed shopping list and when you’re in the supermarket stick to that list.
You should also try to purchase locally sourced produce and other food from places like your local farmer’s market.
Of the land used for agriculture, 77% is used for livestock that provides only 17% of our calories yet have a much greater impact on the environment than vegetable substitutes (switching beef for tofu just once a week reduces your carbon footprint by 592kg or the equivalent of driving from London to Athens). Therefore, although all wastage is bad wasting meat is far worse than wasting plant products.
- Recycle and dispose of waste properly
Brits are said to be among the highest waste producers in the world. These wastes include those from kitchens, laundries, bathrooms, and gardens as well as industrial waste.
Proper waste disposal is beneficial to the environment. Without it, the land and its underlying resources are prone to contamination. And contamination can lead to various diseases and other health concerns.
In the past, it was a common practice to burn waste at the landfill and in back gardens. However, doing this contributed to heart diseases, respiratory illnesses, emphysema, and asthma.
Recycling is beneficial to you, your community, and the environment and helps sustain the environment for future generations
- Walk, bike and use public transport whenever possible
A culture of car dependency exists in the UK. According to government data, 67% of commuting trips are made by car, as are 46% of all trips of less than two miles.
There are major environmental consequences of so many journeys being made by car, including carbon emissions, air quality and noise pollution. 21% of UK greenhouse gas emissions come from transport, so reducing our reliance on cars would make a big difference to this.
Sustainable and active travel means making journeys by healthier, more environmentally-friendly modes, such as walking, cycling, or public transport.
We can all do our part to encourage sustainable and active travel by making a simple pledge leave the car at home, or choose not to drive at all, and make journeys by foot, bike or public transport whenever possible.
Ok, thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview: The youth-led climate strikes of September 2019 showed an impressive degree of activism and initiative by young people on behalf of climate change. This was great, and there is still plenty that needs to be done. In your opinion what are 5 things parents should do to inspire the next generation to become engaged in sustainability and the environmental movement? Please give a story or an example for each.
To me, the climate strikes proved that a significant proportion of young people comprehend the importance of becoming involved in sustainability and the environmental movement.
I feel that both parents and the younger generation could mutually learn these 5 things from each other:
1. Listen. The younger have fresh environmental perceptions and new viewpoints.
Parents can learn a lot if they listen to their concepts and what they think needs to be done — and to their questions, fears, and hopes. Parents don’t listen to youth nearly enough.
2. Lead by example. It is simpler to establish a habit in young children than to teach them a new habit as they get older. Teach them about recycling and which items go into which bin. Teach them about littering, keeping lights off, and turning off the water when they brush their teeth.
For us parents, paying attention to our role as a consumer and how that affects the environment wasn’t something we were taught to think about. However, as parents today we can change that for our children. This means focusing on recycled items, buying sustainably sourced food, finding energy-efficient appliances, and using biodegradable cleaning products. Children, in turn, will emulate these purchasing decisions as adults.
3. Play outside whenever possible. It is difficult to develop a love for the environment unless it’s understood what is at stake. If our children develop a love for nature, they’ll be more likely to fight for it.
The outdoors provides the perfect laboratory for young people to conduct independent, interest-led inquiries into the workings of the natural world.
Parents have a responsibility to encourage a childhood that is overflowing with simple childhood pleasures like exploring the woods, turning over rocks to discover insects, using fallen trees as balance beams and so much more.
4. Channel environmental concerns into action. Thanks to the youth climate movement and social media, the younger generation are more in harmony with the environment than ever before.
Parents can help their children channel environmentally-related uncertainties into action by educating others about climate change, campaigning for preferred political candidates and protesting peacefully
5. Vote and include your older child in the process. Raising a generation of politically engaged youth is vital for ensuring our future leaders take bold action on environmental issues.
Parents can show their child that one of the biggest ways we can improve the health of our planet is by voting.
Young people can get involved in the campaigns of candidates with environmental manifestos, attend community forums and watch televised debates.
How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or an example?
A sustainable business doesn’t happen by accident. Becoming sustainable requires a strategy and for that strategy to succeed it requires a connection to the financial health of a company.
Environmental consciousness at Buckingham Futures is essential for the long-term growth and financial health of our business.
However, sustainability is far from a black-and-white field. There’s no one right way to implement any strategy, and performance metrics aren’t always fixed.
At Buckingham Futures, we have made tackling environmental wastes a key economic driver.
We aim to reduce our energy usage by 50% by the end of 2021. Over the next 5 years, we plan to double our revenue while halving our environmental impact.
The reason for our actions is a simple yet powerful realization that the environmental and economic footprints are most often aligned.
When we prevent physical waste, increase energy efficiency or improve resource productivity, we save money, improve profitability and enhance competitiveness.
We have learnt that being environmentally friendly does not have to cost money and that the benefits far outweigh any negatives.
The time and money it takes to establish new environmentally green protocols pay back in dividends, not only in money but also in feeling good that my company is kind to the planet.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I would not be the person I am today without the unconditional love of my mother.
Throughout the years, I have witnessed her endure many hardships and overcome many life-changing obstacles including a debilitating gut disease.
She has always been there through all of the ups and downs of my life. During my tempestuous times, she was the only person that believed in me!
She has instilled in both my sister and me a hard work ethic, and a moral compass always pointing in the direction of compassion.
She is one of my best friends and confidante, I still rely on her judgement and approval to keep me grounded and maintain my self-esteem.
You are a person of great influence and doing some great things for the world! If you could inspire a movement that would bring the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would love to see more people get involved in mentoring. It is more than the transfer of advice, knowledge and insights. As well as the personal satisfaction of sharing skills and experience, being involved in mentoring also provides exposure to fresh perspectives, ideas and approaches and an opportunity to reflect on my own goals and practices
Mentoring helps young people develop their character, raise aspirations and improve their academic attainment and helps them achieve their potential.
From undertaking mentorship, I have developed a passion for working with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and those at risk of offending.
Do you have a favourite life lesson quote? Can you tell us how that was relevant to you in your own life?
My favorite quote has always been ‘Don’t Take Anything for Granted’.
I constantly remind myself to appreciate what I have, while I still have it.
I repetitively practice turning my thoughts toward appreciation, because that is where I find my strength and power.
What is the best way for people to follow you on social media?
I am active on Instagram and LinkedIn.
They can connect with me (https://www.instagram.com/ketanova/ and https://www.linkedin.com/in/recruitmentandconsultancy/) or follow my company pages (https://www.instagram.com/buckinghamfutures/ and https://www.linkedin.com/company/buckingham-futures/?viewAsMember=true).
This was so inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!