Sustainable Summer with Square Mile’s Anna Mercer: Our industry can learn a lot from charities

The head of 3D research discusses buying more pre-loved fashion, adopting a beehive and Square Mile's charity initiatives

The Sustainable Summer series gives investment professionals from the responsible investment space an opportunity share their habits and summer activities that are contributing to a more sustainable world.

For these light-hearted pieces, we ask about summer plans and holidays, and charitable work.

Here, Anna Mercer, head of 3D research at Square Mile, discusses making small changes to her personal habits, a trip to Zurich and what the industry can learn from the way charities engage with corporates.

To view the full Sustainable Summer series click here.

How has your year been so far? Have you stuck to any sustainable New Year’s Resolutions?

I have to be honest and say that New Year’s Resolutions aren’t necessarily my thing because after several weeks of ‘too much’ over the Christmas and New Year period, I tend to set targets that are just loftily unachievable and then make myself feel bad when I start to ignore them two weeks in. I prefer instead to try and make small changes or targets which I can stick to more consistently and which I can adjust to better suit where I am at that point in the year.

These include buying less and better quality new items and stepping further into the world of pre-loved, especially with regards to clothing – a weakness of mine. I’ve also switched to a renewable energy provider and tried to consistently reduce my energy usage, cut down food waste and the amount of meat I eat, and have committed to offsetting any flights I’ve taken. These are definitely all obvious choices but if this area of the market has taught me anything, it is that we’re on a journey of progress not perfection and to quote Tesco: ‘every little helps.’ 

See also: – Winners of the 2022 ESG Clarity Awards EU/UK

How are you connecting with nature this summer or protecting biodiversity near to where you live or work?

In central London, it can be quite hard to connect with nature and/or protect biodiversity. However, I’m grateful to live close to Battersea Park and walk there often, embracing the variety of flora and fauna. I have also adopted a beehive and tend to do the same or something similar for peoples’ birthday presents and also donate to a rewilding charity near to where I grew up in Scotland.  

What do you find are the benefits of spending more time in the great outdoors?

It has, of course, been well-documented that spending time outdoors and in nature is incredibly beneficial for your mental health and it is true for me. They say when you’re stressed or anxious, you should move and get fresh air, and I try to stick to that. It also provides a sense of calm and helps to put everything in perspective, something that is all too easy to lose in daily life.

Are you planning a holiday? How will you make it ESG-friendly?

I am looking forward to going to Zurich in September with some friends to relax, though my flatmate’s addiction to Strava does mean I will also likely be participating in many hikes and swims. The flights will be offset and the aforementioned Strava addiction means we will be walking and cycling everywhere. We will also be cooking using local foods, though I have to admit some French Rosé will very likely be consumed. 

Are you taking part in any charity events or initiatives benefitting the climate or society?

I am indeed – the Square Mile team is actually planning to walk/run a combined 120KM in a day for our two chosen charities – Starlight and charity:water. The work they both carry out is amazing and any donations would be so very welcome. Click here:

What would you like to see more of in the investment industry from a sustainability perspective?

This may not sound material from a sustainability perspective, but I actually would like to see more commitment to transparency and the consistent use and application of terminology and reporting frameworks. I understand all the nuances around this, however, I believe that if people can better understand and connect with what managers are intending to achieve from a sustainability perspective and what they have actually delivered, they will be more engaged and empowered to invest in this way.

I always think that our industry can learn a lot from the way in which charities communicate and engage with people and the way in which they enable individuals to truly ‘buy-in’ to their cause.