Local businesses came together for the Green Tactics for Henley Businesses seminar hosted by the Business group of Greener Henley last Thursday as part of Henley’s Great Big Green Week.
Judy Walker of Greener Henley opened the meeting by saying that everyone attending from Henley businesses are very important in that they are doing more for the climate than individuals can do, by leading what and how we consume.
The opening speakers gave inspiring short talks on different subjects. Patrick Fleming (Chair of Greener Henley) gave a brief description of COP 27 and its importance, followed by Helen Fraser’s (Orchard House) lively interactive explanation of what Ethical Investment means. Martin Fry gave some tips on how businesses can reduce their energy consumption and affect behaviour change so everyone takes responsibility for switching off electrical equipment if it is not in use.
Mark Chapman of Zero Carbon Forum is not an environmentalist but a survivalist. His company measures businesses carbon footprints and helps them plan reductions, be more efficient and de-risk their supply chain. He said, “Consumers expect businesses working together to solve the climate crisis – not politicians.”
Councillor Ian Reissmann listed all the things that Henley Town Council has done since declaring a Climate Emergency. From things such as solar panels on Town’s buildings, supporting Solar Streets and the Car Club, installing EV charging points, choosing more sustainable suppliers and investing ethically the Town’s funds and much more.
In the second half of the evening the audience heard from local business people about how they have changed their practices to become more sustainable.
Peter Hopkins of Mercers Solicitors described how they have managed to halve their carbon footprint by flexible working and using smaller premises, going paperless, using 100% renewable energy. Louise Gow and Kate Holliday of Invesco explained how their company is working towards net zero and gave several examples of how the British offices are leading the way in making the business energy efficient. They gave details of Invesco’s sustainable events policy and the impact that is having on their own and other businesses, making it the norm not to use single use plastic. As an example anything they give away must have a circular lifespan.
Tim Barry of Bikeable has set up his own business supplying hotels with bikes with the Hotel’s brand to offer to customers and their staff. They also offer pre-emptive servicing for the bikes.
Salon of Chi’s owner Nicole Hewitt wants her business of some 20 years to be as green as possible. Hairdressing is notorious for waste so Nicole has found ways to reduce, recycle or banish harmful elements. The products they use must be sustainable, Nicole inspects the factories where the products are made. They refill customer’s own bottles of hair products, recycle hair, use compostable towels, and instead of foil use washable papers made from clay and plant-based material. Each year the Salon sets itself a challenge – last year was to reduce their landfill waste to 1 bag – some weeks they only have ½ a bag. This year they are working with the Oxfordshire charity Earth Trust supporting them to put in a backwater from the Thames which helps with the River filtration and protecting the crested newt.
The audience appeared spellbound by the variety and clarity of the speakers. Before the formal meeting ended everyone was asked to do three things:
- Take one new action for their business’s sustainability in October.
- Share what they have done, often and widely.
- Support each other.