What can you and your business do to be Greener – Inspiration and ideas from Drive Green
Being a green as possible has always been at the heart of what we do at Drive Green
In terms of our green credentials, we work with a very green product – Electric Cars. But as well as this I have tried to make Drive Green as green a business in every respect, in line with the sustainable living goals on which the business was founded.
We think that Drive Green offers a great example and case study as to how businesses can approach making themselves greener and so I would like to go through the many things we have done at Drive green to reduce our carbon footprint and to promote the sustainable living in the hope that we can inspire other people and businesses to do the same.
First of all is the overall approach we have adopted that has enables us to make the business as green as possible:
‘If we can think of a greener way to do anything, that is how we will do it. No room for apathy or restrictions in the green budget.’
Apathy is the enemy, as often being greener takes more energy and effort and it is often more expensive, but don’t let apathy win. I there is a greener way to do it that is the way to do – always.
Drive Green – What we do
Pursuing our green goals has been made easier of course because we work in a green sector anyway. Selling only electric cars, every sale we make is another green achievement as it is another polluting vehicle off the road.
But outside of the core of what do we have also done as much as we can to make the business itself as green as possible and I hope it is from our example that other businesses and other people can find the inspiration and ideas to make their businesses or homes greener.
Use Green Energy – Switching to a green energy supplier is probably the easiest of green measures for everyone to do at home as well as in the workplace. We use Ecotricity for our electricity supply, as I feel they are perhaps the greenest of energy suppliers with a great re-investment strategy, and we are next to 2 of their Turbines.
Unfortunately we don’t have the space on site for a solar pv system big enough to provide all our electricity needs, as we use so much, but all the electricity we do use is 100% renewable.
Solar PV – We do however have a 4kW Solar PV array that we use to power the office and charge a car. This offers a great example to our customers as to what they can do at home, and with the rising cost of electricity this is also a very economically sensible long-term measure for all businesses and households alike.
Green Heating / Biomass – we use a wood pellet boiler to provide our carbon neutral heating. Whether at work or at home, switching to a greener heating system, such as a heat pump or a biomass boiler is a great step to reduce your carbon footprint.
Our whole office building is a temporary structure made entirely of reclaimed and recycled materials – every scrap of it, down to the nails and light fittings. This is a triumph and I love our offices. Built by my Artist friends locally at the famous Rockaway Park, it is a real achievement in carbon neutral eco-building. Fridge truck walls, reclaimed packing timbers make this internal wall, the sliding doors were found at the back of a glaziers yard where they had been made to the wrong size, the chassis and framework are made from old industrial metal fence posts, telegraph poles, reclaimed windows and doors.
Harmonize with Nature / Green Roof – it has a green roof which is fun and a good social media talking point, promoting how to harmonize our buildings with nature.
Planting trees – is a great way to offset some of your carbon footprint. I planted 13 actual big trees to make up for any carbon cost the building had, such as its delivery and new things like paints etc. Tree planting will remain part of what we do in order to offset anything we are struggling to remove from our businesses carbon footprint.
Green Tech Showroom – in the office we still have the remnants of my green tech showroom and advice center. We have solar thermal, and battery storage for example still on display for visitors to look at. We used to provide a free advice service for our customers with regards to other domestic green technologies, and provide links to good installers to help them make it happen. I would love to be able to revisit this again when time permits, but in the meantime we still do what we can always to promote greener living in general to our visitors. Spreading the word, creating awareness and educating people I think is one of the most important things we can all do to promote sustainable living.
Upcycled Furniture – We have predominantly locally sourced secondhand furniture, the desks are upcycled from old solar panels, and most of our other furniture was made by a local carpenter out of a local tree (at his workshop site) and were delivered together with our building to reduce transport carbon costs.
Compost Loo – A compost loo I concluded was the greenest solution to our to our human waste on site. To be honest it is difficult to maintain as a public loo, and it isn’t particularly popular with the staff who use it every day, but we still do it. It is however probably one green step to far for most businesses. It is kind of fun and quirky, and certainly memorable for our customers – a great post visit talking point I would imagine.
We have a wild-flower bed along the entire frontage of the site, good for wildlife and good for message giving over social media.
Site Fencing – the site is decorated in timbers to suit the natural feel to the site. All the timbers used to do this have been reclaimed locally.
Repair and Upgrade Computers – rather than buy new computer equipment we repair and upgrade our current laptops, and old secondhand machines, instead of buying new.
Recycling – we recycle everything, and have sorting bins for every category to make it easy.
Composting – anything compostable we compost.
Recycled paper floor mats – Being a car dealership we use a lot of protective paper floormats, and as we couldn’t find anyone who supplied car floor mats made of recycled paper, we have had our own ones made.
Reusable Cables ties – we handle lots of cables being an ev dealership and as a result we use re-usable cable ties, rather than single use ties.
Wood Key Rings – we have FSC wooden key rings made that we provide with our cars to customers, preferring to use natural and sustainable products.
Bamboo Pens – the pens customers use while at drive green are made of recycled paper or bamboo rather than another unsustainable material.
Green Thoughts for the day – we have a green thought for the day desk calendar that sits in the customer seating area, and helps to give a daily green thought to staff as well as customers. We also have green literature present in the showroom for customers to read, and hopefully inspire them.
Simple little things, that all help make a difference. Not only to make the business greener, but to also promote the sustainable living message.
No Disposable cups – we use only reusable cups and glasses, and no lazy disposable items.
Charity donations – we support Green Peace and Friends of the Earth, and the World Wildlife fun with a £5 donation for every review we receive.
All purchasers of our cars get a membership card (made of recycled plastic) what they can use to claim discount at a number of green businesses, from things such as solar PV installations, to green cleaning products and discounted green energy providers. We also promote all our green partners through our social media channels, to help push more customers to them.
A big part of what we can all do as businesses is help in educating others.
Promoting Sustainable living – In terms of Promoting Sustainable living in general we also do lots over our social media channels as well as directly to our customer face to face here at the showroom – regularly discussing other ways for people to make their lifestyle greener. We have another web-site which showcases lots of domestic green technology ideas, and we have written and promoted many articles about green lifestyle changing. We are really lucky that due to its success, Drive Green provides such a high profile soapbox from which I have been able to promote sustainable living.
Making Staff Greener – in particular educating our staff, in ways to be greener. This is hugely important here at Drive Green, where being green is central to our culture. We run a ‘why and how we are green’ workshop for our staff, to help make sure staff are fully climate change literate and understand why we do what we do and why it is so important.
School Educational Sponsorship – we also sponsored ‘Weather Watch’ to do a climate change workshop at our local primary school, something we plan to do more of in the new year locally, as education is key to encouraging more sustainable living, and we know from dealing with our customers how influential children can be.
“leading by example and spreading the word”
As well as simply doing everything you can I think education is the next most important thing we can do, so helping by leading by example and spreading the word.
A big part of the carbon footprint of a business is the behavior of its staff at work and getting to and from work. We have done a few things to help encourage the greener practices that are central to the businesses culture.
Reusable bottles – all the staff have been given a ‘WWF reusable thermos bottle to bring drinks into work, so as to not bring in any single use drink items.
No Single use plastic rule – staff are strongly encouraged to not bring in any single use plastic items into work. While it is hard to enforce, whilst still permitting staff to enjoy certain freedoms, we ask that if they do use any single use items, they have to take them home with them to recycle them there, to hopefully discourage single use, and to make them extra aware of the waste and litter factor of single use materials.
Bring your own lunch scheme – to help encourage staff to make their own lunch to reduce higher carbon cost, and single use waste cost, we pay £2 per day to anyone who brings in their own lunch with no disposable packaging.
EV Ownership Incentive Scheme – to help encourage and make EV ownership more affordable to our staff, the business will pay £100 per month to anyone driving an EV to work to help them finance their electric car.
Staff Engagement – Challenging staff to come up with new and extra things we can do also helps with not only ideas, but also engaging them with our carbon neutral mission.
“Look at your business, your lifestyle and everything you do and try and think ‘is there a greener way’”
The key thing to take away from this article is to look at your business, your lifestyle and everything you do and try and think ‘is there a greener way’. And if so to do it. That is what we have done at Drive Green and we will continue to do so, and hopefully the idea set out in this article will help inspire you and come up with ideas of your own that are relevant to your business or your home.
Richard is the driving force behind Drive Greens eco-goals. Richard has been involved in the sustainable living and renewable energy sector for many years and his expertise has brought success to several green businesses. His background has a huge influence on Drive Green’s direction and message.
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