Why eco means businesses could save money and the planet

Many business owners across Norfolk are highlighting the importance of running a business in an environmentally-friendly way and, as backing from the government to create more green working environments increases, more people are questioning what the advantages are.

Businesses are frequently encouraged to do things like upgrade their facilities, with the aim to save them money in long run, and this is meant to not only help the environment, but balance the books too.

When the word green is used, it is easy to assume the use of things like solar panels and different bins for different waste, but as one of the winners from the eco awards explains, it is also about making change to keep a business running.

'It's about changing the mindset of people,' Joe Ray, winner of the eco-hero category said. 'For example, if staff appreciate small things, like stock, and the effects of wastage, then that's going to make a difference.'

Mr Ray won his award because of his exceptional passion and action for the eco cause. He was described as being someone who not only understands the need for a change to be made, but goes about making positive change as part of his day-to-day life and makes efforts to involve and educate people. His Norwich shop, Hidden Treasure on Plumstead Road in Heartease, sells reclaimed and refurbished second-hand goods which are cleaned, repaired and restored on site before they are sold.

'It's not always about making a profit,' Mr Ray explained.

'It's about getting people to look at things differently and see what can be done with the things they already have.'

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Much of the stock comes from Boss Recycling, also run by Mr Ray, a recycling company which generates the variety of stock.

Mr Ray said: 'Our aim is to re-use goods by refurbishing them back to quality condition, not only recycling what would have been thrown away but also giving you a bargain in the process. Everyone's a winner.'

As part of the learning process, Mr Ray's lastest venture has been the setting-up of a training course for people to learn about effective recycling.

'We can adapt the course to suit the needs of the individual,' said Mr Ray.

Lee Rose, owner of Norfolk Solar, based in Bowthorpe and winner of the eco small business category, is also backing the need to create more enviromentally-friendly businesses and said: 'We've been lucky to make a real contribution.' Speaking of the awards he added: 'Norwich is a great place to live and I think it's nice to be able to have something that acknowledges eco achievements.'

The business was set up in 2001 to provide a wider choice of local suppliers for homeowners in the area in terms of renewable energy and other sustainable home improvements.

Mr Rose explained: 'The business strives to inspire members of the public to change their lifestyles in a small but positive way.'

Norfolk Solar has also developed the business to become a source of training and information for members of the public, supporting organisations and private sector industry.

The business has a long list of ongoing eco activities, including auditing of its own carbon emissions, a commitment to recycling as much of its waste as possible, and using ethically and environmentally sound suppliers for services such as energy supply and banking.

Even the larger businesses in Norwich have embracing the need for change as shown by winner of the eco large business, Purcell Miller Tritton, an architectural practice.

The business is made up of nationwide resources across 12 studios, and strives to reduce the environmental impact of its studios and its projects.

It has decreased its overall carbon footprint by 5pc since 2009, and paper usage has dropped by 20pc from 2009 levels.

Managing partner and architect James Montgomery said: 'It's good to see Norwich still supports sustainability.'

The eco awards have not only demonstrated the good work of businesses in Norwich but also focused on making people aware being green is not only good for the planet but good for business too. Aside from creating a business that is sustainable and will make money over the long term, going green helps businesses to save money, the environment and resources.

Around 100 people attended the third Norwich Eco Awards presentation evening at City Hall this year. Organised by Norwich City Council and supported by the Norwich Evening News, the awards aimed to give everyone doing good work to improve Norwich the chance to get together and celebrate their hard work.