So why is your website called Imperfect Sustainability and how does that relate to being a candidate for Chippenham Town Council?

Well until a few weeks ago I hadn’t actually considered running as an independent candidate for Chippenham Town Council. I guess in a perfect world I would have taken out a different web domain. However as I already owned the ‘Imperfect Sustainability’ domain and had it parked for a year, it seemed reasonable to reuse it.

My sustainablility work is also intrinsically linked with my desire to make a positive contribution to the way the council evolves making decisions for all generations. 

Why Imperfect Sustainability?

Well it actually came from a book I published earlier this year based on our experiences of trying to make our business and personal lives as sustainable as possible.

I started writing it over two years ago when the IPCC 1.5 degree Climate change report hit me between the eyes. It seemed at the time that it had slipped under the radar and I felt an overwhelming need to act, to do something. 

I started to research the science behind Climate change and look deeper into sustainability so we could continue to evolve our business. I have to thank the Future Learn platform and in particular the University of Exeter, Bath, Leicester, Bergen, Cape Town and University College London for their excellent online short courses that gave the foundations for our decision making.

Often the decisions weren’t clear cut, particularly when it came to plastic packaging. But doing nothing wasn’t an option, so we made decisions based on the best available information and a certain amount of gut instinct. I started to write notes, case studies and blog posts on our website and over two years these formed the basis of my book.

The original natty title was ‘How to make your small business sustainable’. But as my wife and business partner Diana watched me over many months wrestle with making our small business sustainable, ranting at newspapers, going to sustainability conferences, and studying feverishly with various Universities, it became clear that being sustainable was no straightforward walk in the park!

At times I gained a glint in my eye and after one too many glasses of wine would corner a dinner party guest and lecture them on climate change as their eyes glazed over, waking the next day to recall my incoherent ramblings. I gained an obsession with compost and all things compostable for which there may be no cure.

Often what might appear to be the right thing to do from one perspective was the wrong thing to do from another. So all you can really do is take your best shot. Or as Diana coined the phrase – become ‘Imperfectly sustainable’.

And that’s the gist of my book – a guide on how to become imperfectly sustainable.
For if we all become Imperfectly sustainable, we might just make enough difference to shift our planet back on an even keel.

I believe that over the past two and a half years I have gained a huge amount of knowledge and have formed strong opinions on how we need to evolve businesses, society and economics for a sustainable future. In a small way we’re trying to implement that in our business and personal lives. But I am definitely Imperfect!

By the way i’m not here to sell you my book, but if you are curious you can find out more here.

 

How can this apply to a council?

One of the advantages of being your own boss and running your own small business is you can make decisions and implement changes rapidly. As I discovered in my work for the Chippenham Neighbourhood plan last year making committee based decisions can be tediously slow.

In our business we use a mantra ‘Make reversible business decisions’.

That is, if you’re unsure about whether something will work but you can try it without serious damage to your business, then just try it! This mantra has served us well over the years and even when things don’t work out you often gain a valuable insight or open new doorways.

In case you’re wondering my business is based in Corsham, so it isn’t directly affected by any decisions made by Chippenham Town council. I’m certainly not putting myself forward to try and assist my business in any way. Let’s face it I could have a much easier life not running for councillor!

My reasons for standing are altruistic, I want my children to have the fun and opportunities I had as a teenager. I don’t want them to worry about their future, so time for me to step up and try and make a difference. 

If I am fortunate enough to be elected I will probably be an Imperfect councillor, but I will definitely do my best.

Matthew