Tuesday 17 January 2012

Marking Out A Green Space with M&S

Marks And Spencer have spent the last couple of years as the front-runner in the move towards a greener high street. Their Plan A initiative has quietly revolutionised the brand's business model. Without disrupting their core values, good old M&S has made sustainability an integral part of how we as consumers view one of our most venerable shops.
That move is now spreading beyond the stores. M&S have launched @myurbangreen, a new project in conjunction with environmental charity Greenwork. The plan is to help communities to get involved in developing, managing and maintaining local green spaces. They're taking this seriously; by the end of September M&S plan to have been involved in 850 green space activities and events. They also plan to support 300 "Friends Of" groups, helping them to support and grow their local urban green space.
This is interesting stuff. M&S are already working closely with charities like Oxfam on clothes recycling projects, but @myurbanspaces (shame about the name) is more, dare we say, Big Society in outlook. It's a huge corporation actively seeking to give back to the community in a way that isn't connected with the core business. Sure, you could argue that it's simply corporate sponsorship writ large. But it's a logical step forward, given the work that has already been done. Working in lockstep with a respected environmental charity shows that this isn't a simple brand awareness exercise. I'm genuinely enthusiastic about this, and I'll be keeping an eye on how it works in parks, allotments and green spaces around the country.

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