Later addition: ENDS Report 219 (October, page 7) gives more of the background, as follows:
“ENDS was the result of a chance meeting [David Layton] had with the conservationist Max Nicholson, a co-founder of the World Wildlife Fund. They agreed that business was sorely ignorant of environmental issues and decided to provide solution.
“Max brought a passion for the environment. Through IDS [Incomes Data Services] David supplied the investment, and also clear views of how ENDS should be run as a business.
“They secured the services of John Elkington as the first editor of the new company’s only product, the fortnightly ENDS Report. Max took the role of managing editor. The first edition appeared in May 1978 …”
In the longer term, two people played a crucial role in ensuring the survival and evolution of ENDS: Georgina McAughtry, who arrived at ENDS a few days before I did, and the late Marek Mayer, who Elaine found via Wildwood House, where she worked and had met Marek’s partner, author Sue Gee.
Looking back, David – alongside Max – had a huge impact on the development of my career. I had previously written extensively for magazines like New Scientist, which is where Max had first come across me, but ENDS was trying to open up what Max called the “last dark continent’ for environment, business.
Despite the backing of IDS, which had wide access to business, it took us nine months to get through the door of the first company willing to open itself up to our scrutiny, which happened to be Albright & Wilson. In this, we were following in the footprints of Social Audit, where I hugely admired the work of people like Charles Medawar and Maurice Frankel.
The ENDS work led to my first proper book, The Ecology of Tomorrow’s World, published by Associated Business Publishers in 1980. David’s tuition on how to write for business had proven to be a huge inspiration – and both his and Max’s thinking influenced the book. In later years, as I began to co-evolve SustainAbility and cranked out books like The Green Consumer Guide and Cannibals with Forks, on the rare occasions when I met David I made a point of thanking him for the platform he had provided for our small team.
Apart from David and Max, the only other work-related mentor (though we would not have used that term then) that I would place alongside them was John Roberts, whose TEST I joined in 1974. At the time, TEST was based in King Street, Covent Garden, though we shortly thereafter moved to the other side of the block and Floral Street.
And it was there that I worked with TEST on the top floor while Elaine later arrived to work with Wildwood House on the floor below – and a sequence of events began that would prove to have a significant impact on the longer term survival of a company, ENDS, whose survival and impact I look back on with quiet pride.
Later addition, on 18 November: On my way to 1 Victoria Street for a meeting with BIS this morning, I walked by Orchard House, at the corner of Abbey Orchard Street and Great Smith Street, where ENDS had its first proper offices. Later, we moved it across to Bowling Green Lane, where a friend – Mike Franks – had converted an old light industrial warehouse, where craftsmen had made everything from looms to parts for Concorde, into offices. (This was just around the corner from the offices of The Guardian, to which I also contributed regularly over some 20 years.) I recently found myself back in the same building, when visiting the Carbon Disclosure Project.