Keeping things green: how UK businesses do it

Keeping things green: how UK businesses do it

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We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – sustainability is incredibly central to The Stable Company’s ethos.

From green games you can play with your students to knowledge on why timber is the best natural resource out there, we’ve shared a lot of our wisdom on the subject.

But what about your wisdom? In celebration of World Environment Day, we scoured the country for examples of businesses that are putting green issues first.

Brian Smith, MD of creative origami company, Popagami:

“To cut energy costs for my small business, Popettes Ltd, I initially installed LED lighting. LED lights might seem expensive at first, but soon pay for themselves in energy saving and long life. (Don’t buy cheap ones though, for safety reasons – fires are connected to incandescent lighting and cheap LEDs contain mercury.)

We soon started making further green improvements, and had a 6kwh PV solar panel system installed – dramatically reducing our energy bills and output. Other smaller things we use are an eco-kettle and other white goods with high energy efficiency ratings.

Ultimately, our business has a strong eco-policy – our product itself is also made from FSC paper stock and vegetable based inks, locally manufactured and 100% recyclable.”

Business takeaways: To make big changes, go to your biggest/most constant source of energy usage – aka, your lights! You’ll make great financial savings and really decrease your carbon footprint in the process. A win-win. Great stuff.

Mark Woodward, owner of green business conference centre, Green Directions:

“The starting point is to take control of your energy by maximising energy savings, however possible – then, once that part of the transition is well underway, move your energy account to a totally renewable energy supplier. We create our own electricity, and in doing so save 40 tonnes of carbon – making a profit on energy of over £10,000 per year!”

Business takeaways: If you want something doing, do it yourself – taking charge of your own electricity output can be beneficial to your pocket as well as the environment.

Samantha Mant, Director of bathroom design and installation specialists and plumbing and heating engineers, Threesixty:

“Bristol-based Threesixty has always had a strong green approach – uniquely, really, as in general, green matters have been pretty neglected by the plumbing trade. The company recycles and repurposes as many customer materials as is possible and practical, uses Ovo green energy for the office, sorts and recycles all office waste, uses environmentally friendly cleaning products and incentivises the staff to walk to work – to name but a few!

In May, we also took the major step of increasing the engineers’ vehicle fleet with a 100% electric van which has zero emissions.

Our ethos doesn’t stay within the company, either. We encourage our consumers to purchase low water consumption shower heads, and have recently introduced a new product to the UK – Halcyan Water Conditioners – in the search for environmentally friendly, sustainable products for customers. It treats limescale but uses no power, no chemicals and is a permanent fitting, so is entirely sustainable and easy to use.”

Business takeaways: Your eco-impact doesn’t have to stay within the office – you can encourage your customer base to get involved, too! Consumers actually prefer eco-friendly products so are likely to love the opportunity to go greener with you – so don’t be afraid to ask/offer something a little more nature-friendly.

“Energy Ian” Fisher, maintenance manager of eco-friendly bespoke mechanical services company Airmaster:

“Air conditioning is really good at heating, and is a lot cheaper to run than a conventional radiator or hot water system. You can save up to 40% of your heating bill running air conditioning instead of radiators, and around a whopping 75% against electric heaters- so if it’s installed, use it!

Additionally, use thermometers to measure a room’s temperature – when someone complains it’s too cold or hot, it’s easy to just reach for the controller/stat and whack it up or down wasting energy. Thermometers will help you make and justify adjustments.

You can shave time, too. Turn systems off half an hour before everyone goes (and if no one complains, go for an hour or more!).”

Business takeaways: A keen eye on your air conditioning and heating output can have great benefits – again, to both pocket and planet. Little changes like shaving time and using thermometers to measure your usage go a long way. Being green doesn’t have to be a lot of effort!

Eric Brantner, Founder of Scribblrs.com:

“First of all, my entire staff is remote. Web developer, editors, writers – all of them, so there’s no driving to work! I literally drive my car there about an hour or two per month total. It’s great. My business partner used to commute about 30 minutes each way, 5 days a week. That’s 5 hours of driving a week. A lot less fossil fuels being used with working from home!

In terms of my office, I have my computer, printer, second monitor, phone charger, and fan plugged into one power strip. Every time I leave or stop for the day, I power everything off and switch off the power strip.”

Business takeaways: Don’t have to commute? Then don’t bother. Cutting back on commuting frees up your time and stops unnecessarily contributing to the greenhouse effect (which can only be a good thing!). Additionally, small practices like using one power strip, which can effectively be turned off in one, can help decrease your energy output (something we touched upon in our recent article on best green business practices).

Spencer Lawrence, Lettings Director at estate agency, Paramount Properties:

“We’re working towards a paperless office. We’ve taken a look at all of our processes and are digitalising everything we can. The benefits are many – we’ve found that our new processes save us time and improve the customer experience as well as having a positive impact on the environment!”

Business takeaways: Paper, shmaper. Ditch your old school techniques for a digital approach to streamline your processes, help your consumers and do your bit for the planet, too. Can’t go wrong!

Dan Robson, Director of eco-friendly focused packaging, product and design company, Green Digit Limited:

“Focussing entirely on operating in an eco-friendly manner, Green Digit Limited have actually brought all production of our green product, SeedCell (a seed packet that snaps apart and is planted in the ground without need for tools) in-house. This move also minimises our CO2 output by sourcing materials as closely within the UK as possible.

The products are produced via a highly innovative closed-loop manufacturing process. Because the SeedCell itself is so bespoke in nature, there were no pre-existing systems in place to cater to its design, so we actually designed and manufactured special machinery ourselves to accommodate it! Thanks to our bespoke manufacturing methods, we’ve now successfully produced and sold roughly 77,000 zero-waste seed packets to date, putting over 1,386KG of 100% recycled paper pulp to excellent use.

Further, to minimise any waste from unused stock that cannot be sold, we’re currently in the process of looking into assisting with gardening workshops and charity events.”

Business takeaways: Waste not want not! Instead of going for a system that doesn’t suit, create your own (if you’ve got the resources) – a bold move that’ll not only increase your green rep but give your product an extra unique angle, too – great for peaking consumer interest and profit. Try and cut back on waste, too, where possible: straight to landfill is rarely the only option!

Alice Gordon, Community Manager at healthy recipe box company, Mindful Chef:

“Here at Mindful Chef, we are passionate about keeping our business eco-friendly, ensuring that we only use sustainably sourced produce to send to our customers. The majority of our produce is sourced from the west country meaning our food mileage is kept to a minimum as we don’t source them from all over the world. As a result, our recipes are all seasonal as well.

We send out all the pre portioned ingredients and recipe cards needed to cook up healthy evening meals at home – this vastly reduces food wastage as every last bit is eaten up (our customers regularly comment on this as a benefit of using our service!).

Finally our packaging is all recyclable including the woolcool insulation to keep the meat and fish chilled which is biodegradable.”

Business takeaways: It’s not all about the office, it’s not even all about the customers – it’s about the packaging, too! Make sure you keep your company’s biggest throwaway as green as possible by using for instance, (like Mindful Chef), biodegradable materials where you can. It makes a huge difference.

Jo Blood, MD at ergonomic office furniture suppliers Posture People:

“At Posture People, we only source the best in responsible ergonomic design. It is important to us to know where our furniture is coming from and the footprint that it leaves behind. Many of our core suppliers are right here in the UK, using traditional techniques with furniture being manufactured by very skilled hands!”

Business takeaways: Know your source, and pick your suppliers wisely. Your green impact (as aforementioned) doesn’t stay within the walls of your office alone, but is contributed to by all outside influencers you use to make your business work, so it’s vital you know what they’re doing and how if you wish to make significant green changes!

Laura Croisdale, Environmental Officer at packaging company, Encore Packaging Solutions:

“One of a company’s biggest costs is lighting. By installing motion sensors you can drastically cut your electricity bill without the massive investment of upgrading the whole lighting scheme. Having the lighting sensors also reduces the “human error” risk of employees forgetting to switch off a light, or switching off a light whilst someone is still working in the room!

You could additionally set up an open forum for employees to make suggestions and provide feedback. It’s great to see what people think of what’s in place and what else could be done to help the environment.”

Business takeaways: Green duties shouldn’t be on the shoulders of the MD alone – if you’ve got any good ideas as to how you can improve green practice in your business, speak up! Or, if you’re in charge, invite your employees to come forward with their best tips – a great way to rake in some more creative eco-friendly intel.

Richard Crawford, Owner of professional oven cleaning business, Nottingham Oven Cleaners:

“We have a policy of using only environmentally-friendly solutions in our business. In our experience, we have come to realise that the use of toxic, pungent chemicals while cleaning is unnecessary. A growing number of customers are becoming concerned about possible health implications of caustic solutions. Of course, there is also the environmental aspect to consider. There are so many reasons to go green and so few to stick to old, damaging cleaning products.”

Business takeaways: If being concerned about the planet’s health wasn’t enough, there’s also reason to be concerned about your own if you’re not using green practice. Again – being eco-friendly helps out in a multitude of ways, for only a little effort. What more could you ask for?

Got any green business tips of your own, or want to know more of ours? Feel free to share them with us over at our Facebook or Twitter page – we’d love to know what you do!

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