A proportion (approximately 15%) of every person’s ecological footprint is made up of services, both public and private. The private services footprint counts the impacts of the business infrastructure we all rely on for facilities such as banking-financial, insurance, lawyers, accountants, dentists, doctors, mechanics, tradespeople, hairdressers, cafe’s, pubs and restaurants. Public services include central and local government activities such as schools, universities, health and social services, swimming pools, libraries and museums.
The practices of sustainability that apply to your home also apply to business and government services, infrastructure and amenities. It is therefore important to choose your service provider, if there is a choice, based on their sustainability practices. For instance, do they recycle water and waste, conserve energy, source sustainable materials, and so on.
Replacing goods with services
Services can replace the need for you to purchase goods. Everyone doesn’t need to own everything. For instance, using a taxi service or a rental car service when necessary could replace the need to buy another car. Using any sort of rental, lending or sharing service will reduce your footprint. Lending books from the library will save you money, improve your well-being and reduce your footprint. Many communities have lending libraries of things like toys, tools and other equipment.
Cultural services and amenities are highly beneficial. Museums, galleries, theatres, concerts, aquariums, botanic gardens, zoos and the like are great for your intellectual well-being and don’t add much to your footprint.
Social amenities such as community centres, restaurants, cafes, bars, pubs, nightclubs and other meeting places improve your social well-being and mean that you are sharing your footprint with others. (The caveat to this is that you turn off everything at home before you go out!)
The ultimate business transformation will happen when ALL businesses supply services. Businesses that now manufacture space heaters, for example, will become Heating Services businesses. Customers won’t buy a heater they will just buy the heat.
The benefits are enormous for everyone. In this case, the heating service business benefits will include:
- Producing heat as efficiently as possible.
- They will have a fixed-term contract to provide a comfortable temperature at all times – so any efficiencies they can create are all profit. A heating service provider may install insulation at their own cost because it will provide such ongoing efficiencies.
- Being able to monitor, service, upgrade and recycle their heaters.
- Being able to constantly improve the quality of their business
- Being at less risk from ups and downs in sales cycles and the vagaries of the market
- Steady, ongoing cashflow
For the customer, they get just what they want – a comfortable home or office!