In a new series profiling the work of MAS's partner organisations, Andy Kenworthy from the Sustainable Business Network says all businesses can make a positive impact if they have the right tools.

I've had a lot of jobs. I've been a gardener. A builder's labourer. A shop assistant. A forester. A journalist. A fundraiser. I've cleaned out in-flight meal containers with my fingers. I've sold rabbit food, guns and Iron Maiden t-shirts. I've pulled pints in pubs and mouldy potatoes from a conveyor belt. I've put festive labels on jam jars.

There were times when I (and my Mum) felt I had strayed from any meaningful career path and into the weeds. 

But what I found is that doing good for the world can be done from almost anywhere.

Andy Kenworthy

Everywhere I went, I found industries that were changing and useful things I could do. When I was a gardener, we reduced our pesticide use. We considered how to plant more trees for the future. As foresters, we re-invigorated traditional skills. My time on local newspapers was marked by opposition to unnecessary developments in green spaces. On it went. 

So now that's a big part of my job at the Sustainable Business Network

Championing sustainability

Rachel Brown set up the Sustainable Business Network in 2002, and it is New Zealand's largest, longest-standing sustainable business organisation. It unites more than 500 businesses committed to making positive change. 

Sustainable Business Network logoWe work with businesses on how to address climate change, regenerate nature and design out waste. We provide the latest guidance, advice and information. We bring all kinds of organisations together to share ideas and work together. 

Maybe you're in a small-to-medium-sized business or work for yourself. Want to know the part your business can play in tackling climate change? Use our free online Climate Action Toolbox to easily assess your impact and start making a plan. 

Struggling to get air-time for your waste-busting products and services? Apply for a free listing on our Circular Economy Directory. It connects businesses with smart ideas and those who want to use them. 

And who doesn't want more native plants and trees? Follow our Nature Regeneration Pathway. It will guide you towards all sorts of ways you can get stuck in. There are lots more practical sustainability tools for businesses on our website.

Fostering collaboration

In each of these areas and more, SBN also runs our own collaborative projects. These bring together businesses, local authorities and government to act on these issues and have been influential in many areas. We've helped rethink plastic use in Aotearoa. We're helping to reshape business purchasing, which means more big businesses using their buying clout for more-sustainable products.

We're also working hard to install a low-carbon circular economy in Aotearoa that will help secure our future in an uncertain world. This is an economy where materials are never abandoned to become pollution and waste. And it's emerging now, across all sectors.

In recent years, we've helped to fund the planting of more than 500,00 native plants and trees, which are revitalising the nation's waterways. We've created more than 100 new nature-based jobs. Last year, 2,300 business people trained on sustainability with us. We've worked on ways to minimise the use of plastic – 36,000 companies have already used our free Climate Action Toolbox.

Today, my kids are telling me that I should do right by the world and that they want to also. It's reassuring to know that it's not only possible, but it's the best deal in town.