Blog Posts Made in March 2011

UK Aware 2011, the sustainable living show

Monday, March 28th 2011 | Short URL

Last Friday I hopped on a train headed to the big smoke for a day out to the UK Aware show. Despite this being the longest running sustainability lifestyle exhibition in the UK, this was my first time attending and I was curious to learn what the two days of workshops, seminars and exhibition stands had to offer.

Seminar at UK Aware 2011

I arrived at London Olympia, the venue for the show, just in time for an interesting seminar entitled 'How can organisations and businesses cut costs whilst reducing carbon emissions and engaging their customers at the same time?' with a panel of representatives from Second Nature, Google, Global Action Plan, BT and People Who Share. I felt two of the most pertinent points made during this debate were about addressing self-image and selling an alternative way of living. Chris Large from Global Action Plan explained that tapping into an individual's self-image and championing alternative options to break old habits in business is the key. The example he gave was the prestige associated with flying abroad to important business meetings. These meetings could alternatively take place via video conferencing but that doesn't necessarily fit with the preferred self-image of the business person and this is what needs to be addressed. Benita Matofska from People Who Share said that there needed to be a large cultural shift across society but that shift won't necessarily take place unless the reasons for the change of lifestyle is sold effectively, such as the financial benefits of lowering carbon. Both points certainly worth pursuing and considering further I think.

The swishing (clothes swapping, if you're not familiar with the term) area filled one corner of the exhibition space and was busy with ladies rummaging and trying on new-to-them clothes. As I walked past and clocked a lovely dress I made a mental note to myself to take a few items to swap next time. At the back of the hall a green machines expo showed off some shiny new low emissions vehicles and visitors had lots of fun testing the bikes out on the indoor cycle track.

Greenfinder stall at UK Aware 2011

Exhibitors included a wide range of organisations from charities such as the Wildlife Trusts and animal welfare groups to businesses selling allsorts from eco baby products to green printing services. There were familiar faces like the lovely Kate from Greenfinder (the Greenfinder stall is pictured above), Inspired Times Magazine and Onya Bags as well as some new and interesting products that I hadn't come across before. New to me was Ice, a loyalty scheme with a difference. Partnering with retailers such as Vintage Roots, Frank & Faith, OrgaiPets and Green & Black's Ice provides rewards to shoppers making sustainable choices. Other products I wasn't aware of before the show were Green Oil - eco friendly bike maintenance products, eco Wizard - tough, biodegradable plant pots and KleeNap - bathroom tissues made from sugar cane and bamboo waste, not trees, and so soft they'll easily give Andrex a run for their money!

The UK Aware show really does cram a lot into the two days and into the exhibition centre and has something to please all different interests. If you pop along next time you might see us exhibiting there!
www.ukaware.com

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Client News Roundup March 2011

Thursday, March 24th 2011 | Short URL

Here's the March edition of our client news round-up. If you're one of our lovely clients and you would like to share your news here, just get in touch.

My Climate Change Garden celebrates Climate Week with a post-a-day on things you can do in the garden to combat climate change.

Foxglove Covert and their volunteers prepare for the massive task of extending the nature reserve's lake.

The lake at Foxglove Covert LNR copyright Foxglove Covert

Ethical Weddings marks Fairtrade Fortnight with Fairtrade wedding offers and ideas on the blog.

Gertie & Mabel's Esmerelda document boxes featured in the March 2011 issue of Living Etc Magazine.

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust's  Idle Valley launches its Ecominds Project to help improve the mental health and wellbeing through conservation, food growing and wildlife gardening.

London Insight says thank you to everyone who raised funds which helped buy a vehicle for Khuphuka, the HIV and AIDS project in South Africa

Cherry Gorgeous, experts in eco-chic wedding, birth & social stationery helps readers find a green wedding supplier and launch their new website!

Cherry Gorgeous green wedding suppliers copyright Cherry Gorgeous

Creative Nottingham searches for 'golden nuggets' of creative news in Nottingham.

Factory Design are proud to announce that they were winners of the Design Week Awards Industrial Product Design - Congratulations chaps!

Greenhouse PR meet their Eco Hero, Kate Andrews, founder of Loco2

Colbha Consulting considers a green business dilemma and how they tackled it.

Photographs above © Foxglove Covert LNR & Cherry Gorgeous respectively.

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Meet Our Clients… Car Free Walks

Friday, March 18th 2011 | Short URL

Meet another of our great Green Hosting clients...

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work.

Car Free Walks is a website for people who love walking but want to reduce their impact on the environment. We offer 100s of free, easy-to-use walking guides that show you the best places for a walk that buses and trains can take you in the UK. The project was the brainchild of Tim Woods, a freelance editor specialising in sustainability and development, who met business partner Gary Shipp through a mutual love of the outdoors. Patrik Germann brings the IT and application design & development skills to the team.

The Car Free Walks Team

How is your business different to that of others in your industry? How do you stand out from the crowd?

The whole project is a good old fashioned ‘labour of love’ - we all work full time as well as running the website and writing articles and publications to support our work. So we stand out because we don’t make any money!

How would you say your work is ethically and / or environmentally responsible?

We set up the project because we wanted to help encourage people to think about the way that they travel to get ‘outdoors’, and we wanted to show there is an alternative to reliance on private transport and all the negative impacts that reliance on cars can create. We also wanted to relate this to wider environmental issues, helping people to make the connection between their lifestyle choices and the implications for the natural environment that they enjoy.

What motivates you to do business this way?

As the project is a not for profit venture, we are free to make decisions based on our ethics rather than compromises due to economic decisions. Quite a lovely position to be in!

It’s been wonderful to see our project grow. The number of visitors to our site has increased steadily, and we’ve started to forge links with some major national organisations that are helping us to promote what we do. So the reward is more in a sense of achievement than anything else.

How do you communicate your positive work with clients and potential clients and how do they respond?

We like to wear our hearts on our sleeves so our beliefs and passions are a common thread throughout our website and publications. However we also are conscious not to alienate people by being preachy or self-righteous as there’s fewer better ways to turn people off.

Do you see your work as part of a movement of ethical business?

We are pleased to have built up some great relationships with similarly minded businesses and organisations, where we try to trade skills, knowledge and support, rather than exchange money. This seems to be working really well and means we can continue to operate the project on a very small budget.

Share your top 3 tips on how other businesses can work more responsibly.

  1. It’s always easier when you aren’t trying to make money!
  2. Be consistent and honest and don’t oversell your achievements
  3. Avoid ‘green wash’  - it’s so transparent!

How do you see the future of your business and what are you most excited about?

Our website re-launch, and some important new partnerships with a few large NGO’s should see the number of visitors increase sharply over the coming months. We hope this momentum will be sustained and the whole site will grow, both in size and popularity. At the same time we are hoping to start writing more articles and features for magazines and newspapers about car-free walking, with the potential to diversify into producing publications of our own.

Find out more at www.carfreewalks.org

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Meet our Clients… Opulent Ethics

Tuesday, March 15th 2011 | Short URL

Opulent Ethics uses our Green Hosting service for the website they created about their ethical jewellery...

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your work.

We are Opulent Ethics, an up and coming ethical jewellery company. Our jewellery is produced mainly in 100% recycled UK silver, Fairtrade or recycled gemstones and some Oro Verde gold (pre-fairtrade certified gold). We blog about current ethical jewellery issues and trends. Our vision for the future is to to bring ethical jewellery more into the mainstream and to increase the ethical jewellery consumer base.

Nepenthes silver pendant with peridot stone copyright Opulent Ethics

How is your business different to that of others in your industry? How do you stand out from the crowd?

The jewellery industry is one of the worst industries for its impact on the environment and people. Opulent Ethics tries to limit this impact by carefully sourcing our materials.  We use recycled metals and stones, are working towards becoming licensed to use the new Fairtrade and Fairmined gold and also spend time researching and using new materials such as vegetable ivory. Alongside this we combine traditional hand skills with new technologies in our work.

We stand out from the crowd with our innovative designs and by being fully transparent in every part of our business. We are constantly striving to improve our ethical credentials.  

How would you say your work is ethically and / or environmentally responsible?

All the materials used in our jewellery are carefully sourced to ensure that they are recycled, from the UK (for a low carbon footprint) or adhere to Fairtrade and Fairmined principles. Printing is kept to a minimum but when done, all advertising materials are printed on FSC certified recycled papers. Our packaging is recycled and recycleable. Opulent Ethics lend our name to various campaigns which work towards improving the lives or environments of areas affected by the jewellery industry. And to top it all off we now have a wind powered website!

What motivates you to do business this way?

Whilst travelling across Africa and Asia we saw how hard life was for some people. Just being able to support and feed their families is a struggle and this life below the poverty line is totally incomprehensible to many of us. Supporting Fairtrade work means supporting not just the worker but their local community as the Fairtrade premiums are put into improving health and education infrastructure in the local community. Opulent Ethics is motivated by the idea of helping establish and promote trade which works towards improving the lives of workers. Opulent Ethics also support programmes such as the Green Gold programme as it works to re-establish the natural eco-system of an area which is mined. This is done as an on-going process so that indigenous plants and crops are established in the area providing an additional source of income.

How do you communicate your positive work with clients and potential clients and how do they respond?

Ethical jewellery is still relatively unknown so many people simply want to know the cost implications for our business. Once we explain that for recycled silver there is no price difference and the premium from Fairtrade materials is a reasonable amount which works towards making grass-roots improvements within communities our consumers respond positively.

The Opulent Ethics blog is becoming more established and recognised within ethical jewellery circles. We have had very positive feedback about articles that we have researched and written. We hope that the Opulent Ethics blog will also become more widely read by non-ethical jewellers.

Sakura Silver Bud Bracelet copyright Opulent Ethics

Do you see your work as part of a movement of ethical business?

We definately do see our work as a movement of ethical business. Ethical jewellery is still in its infancy but there are many up and coming future deveopments. With the recent release of Fairtrade and Fairmined gold came the projection that Fairtrade and Fairmined gold will account for 5% of gold sales within the next 15 years. This will amount to a massive amount of revenue over the period. It will also, hopefully, bring about changes in other parts of the industry. Ethical jewellery is an exciting industry to be in at the minute.

Share your top 3 tips on how other businesses can work more responsibly.

  1. Be transparent about what you do. No-one expects companies to be able to work 100% ethically from the start but being honest about what you are and aren't able to do and how you are working towards making on-going improvements builds trust with your customers.
  2. Start small. Trying to change everything at once would be expensive and disruptive. Set yourself targets for making small changes over 1 year or 5 years. If you are office based this could be to limit printing, use 100% FSC certified papers or changing to soya inks. In a jewellery studio you could swop harmful chemicals for natural alternatives.
  3. Put the time in to research and find more responsibly sourced products for your business. It can take a bit longer and cost a bit more but as consumers are making more informed decisions on their purchases your business will stand out from the crowd.

How do you see the future of your business and what are you most excited about?

Opulent Ethics is excited about the future and are hoping to see ethical jewellery become more of a mainstream product with less consumers having to ask what it is. We are also hoping to see ethical jewellery become more established in high street stores. The ethical section of London Fashion week is sure to help this happen. Opulent Ethics is most excited about establishing relationships with our consumers and seeing them return to the brand over time.

Is there anything else you would like to tell us about your work?

Opulent Ethics' jewellery ranges are very different and unique. Our classic Sakura Range is based on Japanese cherry blossom and is quite classic. We also have a range produced using laser cut vegetable ivory. This is a world first and can't be found anywhere else. We are constantly designing and producing work so please keep popping back to see what we have been up to lately. You can also keep up to date with what we're doing through the Opulent Ethics blog.

Find out more at www.opulentethics.com

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