Phew… the weather’s been rather temperamental recently ☀️☔ In the wake of last week’s heatwave, climate change seems like an increasingly obvious reality.
‘Renewable resources’, ‘zero waste’ and ‘green alternatives’ are buzzwords for good reason. In the UK, the business sector is beginning to recognise the importance of environmental sustainability. The range of ‘green’ products and services – from clean energy to meat-free meat – has never been greater, and its growth comes not a moment too soon.
Not only is embracing sustainability crucial for the planet’s health, it’s important for business’s sake too. With millennials’ strong environmental values, the future looks ever greener. Millennials want to buy from and work in places that care for the planet as well as profit – so it’s in companies’ best interests to adopt a ‘green’ mindset.
This week, in the wake of 2019’s Earth Overshoot Day (the day on which humans have used up all the resources that Earth can replenish in a year), we want to endorse UK businesses that are already making a real effort towards environmental sustainability – particularly those who are young, small or niche.
So without further ado, here are TalentPool’s picks for the 25 ‘greenest’, most innovative, for-profit companies operating in the UK today.
Foremost in Food and Drink
Switching to plant-based eating is a dramatic way to reduce your environmental impact – and allplants has made it its mission to make doing so easy and delicious. The company delivers nutritious plant-based frozen meals – from rainbow falafel to cauli tikka masala – direct to your door. Its packaging is also fully recyclable, and sent to you via carbon neutral delivery methods. Sounds good to us!
In 2015, Tessa Clarke and Saasha Celestial-One founded OLIO – an app that allows people and businesses to find homes for food they’re not going to eat. App users simply upload a photo and description of their item and anyone interested can organise to collect it, meaning surplus food doesn’t go to waste. So far, almost 2 million portions of food have been saved from being thrown away – and the app has recently expanded to include household item listings too!
It seems that in 2019 we’re finally waking up to just how wasteful our society is. And with Earth Overshoot Day being on 29th July this year, it’s clear that the status quo is completely unsustainable. Whilst governments and businesses have an enormous role to play in solving this, so do we as individuals. That’s why we want to enable everybody to share their spare food, and other household items, rather than throw them away. And we’re thrilled to have had over one million people join us so far!
Tessa ClarkeCo-Founder and CEO – OLIO
Unpackaged offers food with zero waste. Launched as a market stall in 2006 by Catherine Conway, it now has three London stores where customers can purchase food in bulk and package it in their own reusable containers. Unpackaged also runs a thriving consultancy service for businesses looking to shift to a zero waste retail business model. It recently worked with Waitrose & Partners to launch Waitrose Unpacked.
Founded by Rowan Minkley and Robert Nicoll in London, Chip[s] Board is an innovative biomaterial company that turns food waste – from potatoes to coffee grounds – into biodegradable bioplastic composites. It recently collaborated with Cubitts London to produce sleek glasses frames and provided fashion designer Isabel Fletcher with stylish buttons for her clothing designs.
Material waste has been an issue that is being responded to on a global level, resulting in Chip[s] Board being successful in both national and international grants and competitions, as well as attracting attention from global brands. The next step for Chip[s] Board is to scale their production. This will allow them to facilitate the growing demand from industry and take a step closer to replacing toxic polluting plastics with responsible alternatives.
Top in Sustainable Energy
Bulb generates renewable energy from solar, wind, and hydro sources – as well as supporting global carbon reduction projects such as the building of wind farms in India and rainforest protection in Sierra Leone. It was founded by Hayden Wood and Amit Gudka after they grew frustrated with the inefficiency and unsustainability of the traditional energy industry. Based in vibrant East London, it now supplies 1.3 million people with affordable, renewable energy.
We’re proud to be part of a growing green economy. Bulb’s mission is to help our members lower their energy bills and cut carbon emissions. Today we provide over 1.3 million homes with affordable, renewable energy, and we’re just getting started. Whether it’s by making the switch or joining the team, we hope to see more people helping us bring about a cleaner, greener energy system.
Pavegen’s technology converts footsteps into electricity to power applications like lighting, data analysis and transmission, as well as environmental monitoring. Founded by Laurence Kemball-Cook in 2009 and headquartered in Kings Cross, London, Pavegen has delivered over 200 installations in 36 countries to date.
Pavegen is acting as the bridge between people and smart cities. We enable people to participate in a more sustainable future, simply by walking.
Laurence Kemball-CookFounder – Pavegen
Founded by Erik Nygard and Ning Zhang in 2013, Limejump is a leader in the sustainable energy sector. Using data science and AI, the company connects renewable energy generators with trading markets, innovatively stores surplus energy and manages one of the world’s largest centrally controlled battery asset portfolios.
Limejump is changing the way the world transacts energy. By embracing technology, machine learning algorithms and human trading ability, we are realising the unrealisable, to truly deliver renewable resources where demand requires electricity, in sub-second speed.
Best in Transport
Buzzbike is a flexible, London-based bike subscription service. A subscription includes a high-quality bike, lights, a lock, insurance and servicing. Not only is cycling a particularly ‘green’ way to get around, the Buzzbike system allows for easy daily exercise and a much cheaper commute. For every 2,000 Buzzbikes in London, up to 545 tonnes of CO2 and 29,000 Tube journeys could be saved. Ride on!
UrbanThings was founded by Carl Partridge in 2011, offering an alternative to traditional, paper- and plastic-heavy public transport ticketing. UrbanThings’s Ticketless and Bus Checker apps let you manage your tickets from a mobile, reducing public transport’s environmental impact. It also makes journeys much more seamless, with app users able to plan routes, receive delay updates and purchase tickets on the go.
Moving to mobile can make huge environmental savings for operators. Some public transport operators are still using paper tickets, and smartcards schemes produce tonnes of waste plastic each year. UrbanThings can also use passenger data to help transport companies to optimise their routes. More efficient routes means a reduction in emissions, all moving towards a greener future.
Carl PartridgeFounder and CEO – UrbanThings
Leaders in Home Products and Appliances
Delphis Eco makes cleaning products for homes and businesses – with ‘greendustrial strength’! Its entirely British-made, eco-friendly range includes everything from toilet cleaners to gentle hand soaps. And not only are the company’s products sustainable, its packaging is made from 100% recycled plastic, it never tests on animals and it has two royal warrants. Perfect for your next spring clean.
Library of Things aims to reduce buying and encourage borrowing instead. Founded by Emma Shaw, Sophia Wyatt and Rebecca Trevalyan, it offers hundreds of items to borrow – from waffle irons to sewing machines – as well as local events and volunteer opportunities! A true sustainability superstar, the Library of Things not only helps people feel more connected to their communities but reduces wasteful consumerism. Having used the Library of Things, 60% of borrowers say they’re more likely to repair or recycle items than replace them.
Library of Things is on a mission to make borrowing better than buying – for individuals, communities and the planet. Over 2500 South Londoners have already borrowed items like drills, sound systems and sewing machines from a self-serve borrowing kiosk in their local library. Now other communities around the UK are inviting Library of Things to open in their neighbourhood – and that’s our plan!
Emma, Sophia and Bex
Co-Founders – Library of Things
Top in Cups, Bottles and Packaging
CupClub offers an end-to-end returnable packaging service, helping to reduce companies’ single-use plastic packaging by up to 47%. Its products use only half the carbon dioxide equivalent of disposables and ceramics and are manufactured in the UK, resulting in the smallest possible carbon footprint. Each of its servicing trips is coordinated to be as eco-friendly as possible. Even its process of washing the cups is optimised for minimal water use.
Chilly’s Bottles produces reusable water bottles for the active urbanite. Made of durable stainless steel, its bottles come in a huge array of colours and patterns – from hot pink to orange papayas on a blue background. The bottles are also vacuum insulated, meaning they can keep your ice water cold for up to 24 hours and your tea hot for up to 12. Chilly’s has recently expanded its range to include reusable coffee cups – and other exciting projects are in the pipeline.
SoL Cups is on a mission to end single-use plastics, one coffee cup at a time. With its beautiful hand-blown glass cups with silicone lids, it provides the UK’s millions of daily coffee drinkers with an alternative to disposable, polyethylene-coated cups. SoL Cups was founded by Rebecca Veksler in Australia but now operates extensively in the UK. It’s currently expanding its plastic-free range to include reusable straws, carry totes and waterproof pouches.
Notpla is a sustainable packaging material made from seaweed and other plants, which biodegrades in weeks and is edible. The most famous Notpla product is Ooho, a flexible packaging solution for drinks and sauces. This year, Ooho replaced plastic cups at the London Marathon – and you can also find sauce sachets packaged with Ooho in your Just Eat delivery! Recently, the start-up company has also developed a biodegradable, greaseproof Notpla coating for cardboard takeaway boxes – a step in the direction of plastic-free food packaging. Pretty clever, if you ask us!
Favourites in Health and Hygiene
Founded by Alessandro Rocchi in 2015, Georganics is dedicated to producing eco-friendly vegan oral care products, from beautiful beechwood toothbrushes to activated charcoal mouthwash. Based in West Sussex, the company uses all natural ingredients in its products and even sources its eco-friendly packaging locally to help reduce emissions!
Our philosophy is pretty simple. From the ingredients we source, to our minimal-waste approach to packaging, to our transparency in all our manufacturing processes, we are strongly committed to producing the highest quality products with the lowest possible impact.
Mooncup offers a solution to the waste, discomfort and expense of disposable menstrual products. Founded in 2002 by Su Hardy, the company estimates that by using a Mooncup menstrual cup women can reduce the number of menstrual products they’ll use in their lifetime from around 11,000 to 5.
Leading Companies in Clothing
Komodo has been creating and perfecting their range of affordable, on-trend eco fashion for 30 years. Based in north London, its whole supply chain is Soil Association and GOTS certified. Komodo trades fairly with factories in Nepal, China, Indonesia and Turkey. Its designers visit these places regularly and work closely with the people there, who bring their ideas sustainably – and beautifully – to life.
Indiebride London is a bridalwear brand based in South London. Its heirloom-quality bridal gowns and accessories are designed and handmade in London with as little cut waste as possible. The boutique endeavours to use sustainable fabrics and laces, mostly produced in England, Scotland and France.
My ethical values grow deep. My family taught me to reuse worn-out things and to fix my clothes. If something is broken, you fix it instead of buying a new one. My love for nature also derives from my family. I use this ecologically centred energy to steer my company and making ecological choices come naturally to me.
Owner, Director and Seamstress – Indiebride London
Founded by Tom Kay, Finisterre began making innovative fleeces for British surfers in 2003. The company now produces a varied range of environmentally friendly clothing and accessories for men and women – from organic cotton sweatshirts to stylish waterproof rucksacks. Deeply committed to sustainable principles, Finisterre specialises in renewable and recyclable textiles and biodegradable fibres and finishes.
Best in Stationery and Office Supplies
Red-Inc provides businesses with sustainable office supply solutions, such as sustainability reports on clients’ offset achievements, various office supply recycling systems and an industry-leading paper offset scheme. It became the UK’s first B Corp-certified office supplies company in 2017 and won silver in ‘SME of the year’ at the Global Good Awards in 2019 for its sustainability work.
Sustainability is in our DNA to the point that we treat our social and environmental impact as a primary measure of success for our business and prioritise it even in cases where it may not drive profitability. Our environmental initiatives are industry firsts and help tackle the real-world challenges we face ahead, around climate change and social welfare.
Founder and CEO – Red-Inc
Kapdaa is committed to upcycling fabric offcuts. Sourcing its fabric from an ever-growing list of fashion houses, interior designers, textile weavers and mills, it crafts unique new products – from beautiful notebooks to quirky luggage tags – from material otherwise bound for landfill. Operating out of Kingston-upon-Thames, Kapdaa aims to spread a zero-waste message and help offset the huge energy and water footprint of the fashion and textile industries.
Top in Property and Gardens
Meristem Design caters for green infrastructure needs by providing a comprehensive service of design, installation and maintenance. It has been heavily involved with ‘greening’ London through a variety of projects, including installing pollution-reducing ivy screens in schools, constructing large planting structures and street furniture on newly pedestrianised roads, and planting exterior living walls in the city.
At Meristem Design we are very aware of the problems facing the residents of modern cities – be it air pollution, overheating or even estrangement from nature. The ecological functions of plants mean that they can be utilised to combat many of these problems, and so, as a design company, we aim to produce visually attractive products that maximise these plant functions – making for vibrant streets and buildings with happier and healthier inhabitants.
Jack Dolphin Haslam
Plant Biologist – Meristem Design
Demand Logic saves over 20,000 tonnes of CO2 each year (and millions on energy bills and maintenance costs for their clients!) through its market-leading data technology, which tracks all the heating, cooling and ventilation devices in a building to monitor, rate and pinpoint which ones need attention. It also manages change in each property and portfolio, using its data-visualisation and AI platform to hunt down problems, change workflows and trigger cost-effective action on the ground.
I think we’re succeeding because we’ve managed to create the right mix of state-of-the-art technology with trusted, talented people who are motivated by a desire to fix buildings, transform the property market and make massive savings. The company was founded by a small group of environmental campaigners, engineers and IT developers who figured out that in nearly all buildings, there’s a rich untapped gold mine of data waiting to be put to good use.
Co-Founder and Chief Scientist – Demand Logic
Founded in 2010 by Tom Carr and Richard Pearce, Verto Homes disrupts the traditional, environmentally harmful house-building model. Verto Homes designs, builds and sells Zero Carbon Smart Homes, which are not only built with sustainable materials but also produce and consume their own renewable solar energy. The first Zero Carbon Home development was launched in 2015 in Cornwall – and the company aims to be the UK’s largest sustainable house-builder by 2021.
Images: Laura Viktualia for Indiebride London, Library of Things, Limejump, Meristem Design, OLIO, Pavegen, Urban Things.
Post written by Maddie Ballard and Isabel Morris from TalentPool.