Ethical Reading is a social enterprise with a vision that society can be positively transformed by individuals and organisations of all sorts – private, public, third sector with deeply rooted ethical behaviour who are strongly engaged with their community.
One of Ethical Reading’s volunteers was talking to a friend from Brazil, who was describing the ways in which corporates were paying to re-forest parts of his country. The volunteer asked himself – how could that responsible business behaviour improve the urban landscape in Reading? Urban trees do of course absorb CO2, in the same way as in the Brazilian rainforest or on Scottish hillsides, but their importance is wider. For instance, they make a contribution to air quality and they have a calming effect on people as they go about their lives and work.
We worked with Reading Borough Council, which owns much of the land in central Reading, and the local branch of the Tree Wardens, who safeguard trees. The Council had land which could support trees but could not afford to buy trees for planting. So we looked for responsible businesses to support the purchase and maintenance of urban trees, and launched Trees for Reading.
One of our Partners, Thames Lido, came up with an ingenious scheme. The Lido offers day “spa” packages which are very popular. Customers need to book these in advance. The Lido used to offer free parking for day spa customers – but decided instead to offer parking at £5 (still less than nearby carparks) and give all the proceeds to Trees for Reading.
During the first six months of operation, The Lido raised enough for us to plant 11 trees in the centre of Reading, on sites identified by Reading Borough Council and with the expert advice of the Tree Wardens. This is an example of ethical business behaviour in practice – companies and community working in partnership for a better world.
Founder Director, September 2020
Gill Ringland is a Founder Director of Ethical Reading, a social enterprise with the aim of making Reading a better place to live and work.