Last year I was asked to be a guest speaker at the launch of a Leicestershire-based charity, Giving World Online, who put businesses in the UK in touch with charities who can take their unwanted business surplus stock or equipment and redistribute it to those in need. The charity has been a fantastic success and the founders Rama and Sujata have just been given the Leicestershire Woman in the Community Award at the Leicestershire Women of Achievement Awards 2009 – well done Rama and Sujata! It was great to meet everyone and I was thrilled to be able to speak there and talk about how businesses can be more ethical in the products they well and how recycling can keep business waste out of landfill. It’s the first time I’ve spoken in front of so many people so I was a bit wobbly at first, but hopefully this video will interest you if you want to know about green business, or recycling!
How to be green – What is a green event? Despite the recession, there are not signs that the ‘green pound’ has dwindled away. According to the Co-operative Bank’s Ethical Consumerism Report of November 2008, the overall ethical market in the UK was worth £35.5 billion in 2007, up 15 per cent from £31 billion in the previous 12 months. “The economic downturn will not halt the growth in ethical consumerism”, the report states. Shoppers are still buying Fair Trade goods, for example, and making ethical decisions when shopping, even though their ethical spend at £35.5 billion is still a small proportion of the total annual consumer spend of more than £600 billion. The government in the UK is also paying more attention to green issues. In an interview with the Guardian in March 2009, Ed Miliband, the Climate Change Secretary, recently announced a new green strategy that could create 400,000 jobs in the UK with the emphasis on keeping Britain in the lead in the race to create a low-carbon economy. This is all good news for the burgeoning ‘green’ events industry, where venues and specialist companies are springing up to meet the demand for ‘green’ events and trade shows. But what exactly makes an event green? It’s an important question, for event planners, exhibitors, and visitors alike, as no one wants to be accused of greenwashing or getting it wrong, and no one wants to pay to attend a green event and feel that it is not taking environmental concerns seriously. Specialist East London-based event planner Seventeen has organised the Observer Ethical Awards for three years and has an environmental and ethical policy which extends to refusing any third party commission from suppliers, for example, and working from an eco friendly office (a building made from recycled shipping containers). I asked their managing director Andrew Williams what a green event meant to him. “It’s still a very difficult area, everyone (venues, organisers, exhibitors) is doing a bit, but I doubt anyone would claim to be fully committed to sustainability. The main focus in the events industry at the moment in terms of sustainability is on BS8901, which is a new British Standard for sustainable
event management. Not everyone loves BS8901, but it is probably the best
chance the industry has to get a bit of momentum behind the idea ofsustainable events.” Seventeen trialled the BS 8901 Standard, and is now fully compliant. According the BSI, “BS 8901 is the new British Standard which has been developed specifically for the events industry with a purpose of helping the industry to operate in a more sustainable manner….It is important that all aspects of an event are sustainable. Event organisers need to consider the social, economic and environmental impacts of organising their event. Every choice, from the venue and travel arrangements, through to the content of the delegate packs should be designed to be as ecologically responsible as possible.” As someone running a small business who attends a lot of these events, either as a visitor or as an exhibitor, I have noticed that not all events seemed to have used ‘joined up thinking’ about sustainability: I went to one last year which had a whole section devoted to eco design but apparently no recycling bins at all. I was impressed, however, by my visit to UK Aware , the UK’s main green consumer event, which had organic food and Fair Trade coffee on offer and recycling bins galore as well as showcasing all the best energy conservation, green consumer and green business ideas out there. Jodie Carnegie of UK Aware has this to say about what a green event should be: “A place where people can see more sustainable alternatives to everyday products and services and get inspiration about changes they can make in their lives to live in a more sustainable way.
What should it provide to the visitors? Maybe recycling facilities, ticket codes as opposed to tickets, links to ways of travelling to the event by public transport.. .As for how visitors can tell an event is truly green, the term green is very vague but some pointers would be if the venue provides recycling facilities and if they bombard every visitor with a bag full of leaflets.” According to Mary DuQuaine, who runs the Linked In Greener Tradeshows group and a blog at www.exprt.com, an US based green events supplier: “There are many new businesses entering the green economy these days. Trade shows are the traditional place to introduce new products. There are trade shows exclusively for green products. And, most trade shows offer a green section of the show specifically for the businesses offering eco-friendly or sustainable products. The trade show industry as a whole is working to clean up its act by encouraging sustainable business practices, reducing waste, and encouraging new ways to network at the show so that people get the most out of face to face marketing. Green strategies include everything from recycling bins and paper cups, eliminating bottled water, alternative power sources, and reducing paper waste at the show. Companies are encouraged to use light-weight trade show displays to reduce the energy costs of shipping and handling.” She also suggests virtual tradeshows (which can take the form of a ‘webinar’, or a moderated chat, for example) as an economical – and green – alternative to the “in person” shows. “Virtual trade shows are a great alternative to traditional shows especially when people want to maintain brand recognition and keep up a presence in their industry. There are limitations to virtual shows, however, because you lose the physical connection to the products, which can be an issue, especially when introducing new products.” So showing your wares at a virtual stand at a Second Life event might be one way forward, despite all that negative publicity last year about a Second Life avatar using more energy per year than a South American! Tabitha Potts is the Director of Mimimyne an eco friendly company specialising in children’s clothes, furnishings and toys. In her next articles for TGF she will be looking at planning a green event, and giving tips for being a green exhibitor.
This article was originally published on thegreenfamilia: the home of green shopping and family life
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I’ve been chosen as a Finalist for the Mum-entrepreneur award at the Women’s Business Conference in Birmingham this Friday. They say that ‘this award is for any mother who has established a unique and growing business whilst bringing up a family’ and I’m very excited at being among the finalists. I think these prizes do reflect the growing numbers of mothers who are starting up their own businesses because they are frustrated (as I was) by the fact that having a conventional career forces you to work long hours and see your family life suffer (and of course pay a large proportion of what you earn on childcare) while freelancing or working part time means you have little financial security. I don’t think I’d rule out returning to full time paid employment in the future, if I found something as rewarding to do, but I do love the freedom and the ability to be flexible about childcare that working for myself gives me. Watch this space, and I’ll let you know how I get on!
Getting Though the Recession, An Interview With Gerard Burke, Zac Goldsmith, Anthony Holmes And Andy Raynor –
Linda Duberley interviews Gerard Burke – Founder and Managing Director of Business Growth Partnership Ltd, Zac Goldsmith – Green Social Entrepreneur, Anthony Holmes – Turnaround Specialist & Transitional Leadership Expert and Andy Raynor – CEO of Tenon Group Plc. They talk about how to get through the recession at Entrepreneurs in London 2008.
Entrepreneurs in London was a good event, but I had limited time to attend and I think went to the wrong session, I missed Zac Goldsmith at the beginning of this one and for the next session ended up listening to the WASPS management team talking about the similarities between rugby and business, which went completely over my head 🙂 however, there are plenty of interesting speakers on the Fresh Business Thinking video site to interest entrepreneurs I think!
This was a interesting event, aimed at small businesses who were looking to use Web 2.0 (that’s Facebook, myspace and all the ways we use to connect with others – the cuddly web, if you like) to promote their products and services. A lot of it was aimed at Ebayers, which I’m not, except in a purely personal capacity when trying to get rid of unwanted bits of clutter. The best sessions, in my opinion, were by Dan Wilson on using Web 2.0 (I liked his comment that Facebook does not take up a lot of time and you can get away with only four to five hours a day) and Ivan Croxford on using BT Tradespace. I already have a presence on Tradespace but am going to add some products as well and try using it for sales. I also sat in on an email marketing talk but found it very specific to the company presenting (ie, use us and this will happen) rather than generally informative. The official website will have videos of the talks.
The Women in Ethical Business Awards was a great event, sponsored by Triodos Bank (an ethical bank if you don’t know them, who support many ethical companies) in association with eve magazine. It was a very inspiring event, it was particularly interesting to see how many women are drawn towards working in ethical business – lots of different ages and backgrounds, what we all had in common was an interest in the environment and trying to make a difference. It was presented very amusingly by journalist Lucy Siegle who complained about greenwash and some of the not very green products that she has had sent to her. Natracare and Brown Cow were among the winners, but everyone nominated had a fantastic company and products and I felt very privileged to be there and have the chance to meet them. We even got a goodie bag afterwards, a reusable canvas one of course. Among the contents were some of the ‘feminine’ variety including an ‘intimate lubricant’ (water-based and non-toxic, naturally) called ‘yes yes yes’ (very Molly Bloom). These days, it seems a girl is able to embrace the green ethos from top to bottom and, er, Down Below.
This weekend I visited two trade shows which were an interesting contrast, Uk Aware and Grand Designs where I visited Kevin McCloud’s eco home and had a quick look around the exhibitors’ stands. I was visiting suppliers at both shows and loved Spinifex’s new Splat chair for children, which I’ll be featuring in my shop. It’s made of recycled cardboard and has storage space for pencils, pens and paper – a gorgeous little thing that I know parents will love. There weren’t that many childrens’ designers there unfortunately but there was a lot of interesting information about greening your home from Green Homes Concierge Service who also had an exhibit at Grand Designs. I’ve pledged to reduce carbon in my home by 20% so was interested in seeing their tips on how to do so.
I was also inspired by Morsbags who had set up a sewing area in the middle of the exhibition where you could make your own shopper from recycled fabric from charity shops. Morsbags are created by community groups and handed out free to shoppers outside supermarkets to try and cut down on plastic bag use: it’s a wonderful idea and promotes community groups. I made a bag from Laura Ashley fabric and am going to make some more to give to friends.
Grand Designs was a bigger, brasher and slightly less eco event: as one exhibitor pointed out, although there was an eco-village on display there were no recycling facilities and no organic food for sale (all of these things were available at UK Aware). However, I found Kevin McCloud’s eco-home rather inspiring: although architecturally it seemed a bit boxy on the outside, inside it was cool, airy and modern – and it only took a few days to complete the build from scratch. I liked the recycled work surfaces in the kitchen, sighed over the Tom Dixon lights (I love his work) and admired the views. I also visited the Eco Pod on display which had a real ‘aah’ factor rather than ‘wow’ factor: it’s a round living pod made of carbon neutral materials which comes in different sizes and which I would love to have sitting at the bottom of my garden if I could afford it.
Went to this networking do at the British Library last night. I’d put myself up for the ‘pitch in front of everyone’ session and was very glad I wasn’t picked, as it looked absolutely terrifying (huge room full of people, facing a panel of experts etc) and the guinea pigs I saw on the video broadcast (it was booked solid so late-comers had to go to another room) were clearly quaking in their boots. The comments made by the experts seemed helpful (“bankers are human”, said one) but I imagine the people trying to sell their ideas were so nervous that they couldn’t take much of it in. Of course, the ones who seemed the most relaxed came across the best, and it is perfectly true that if you are watching people speak, you can spend a lot of time drifting off and wondering what on earth inspired X to wear that unflattering jacket rather than listening to what X has to say, so it is clearly a good idea to practise speaking in public without umming and ahing (very difficult!) and not to wear distracting clothes. The trick is clearly to try and forget that you are in an artificial situation and pretend you are having a conversation. As one of the experts said, “Tell me a story”.
After the seminar, I was so charmed by the researcher for Dragons Den that I nearly signed up on the spot for a three-minute try out, but in the end sanity prevailed, as the business is not really ready yet. Coincidentally, on the way home I picked up the paper and found myself reading about several businesses that had been turned down by the Dragons and gone on to be a success, including several aimed at children like RelaxKids. Clearly, investors don’t have a crystal ball any more than the rest of us, and that must be a cheering thought to people who’ve failed with their first pitch.
I’ve got a meeting to discuss financing my start-up business this week and I am still agonising over my company name. I had a domain and company name which is not registered at Companies House, but unfortunately, I do not have the .com, and that makes me uncomfortable. On the advice of someone who knows more than I do about branding, I registered some variants, but after pestering friends and family for their responses I’ve only found out that each person will like and dislike different names and there’s no one name that stands out from the pack. I personally think the bobo, heehee nonsense-type names will date quickly and I like a name that means something and explains the concept, but not in an awful, obvious way, as in ecostuff4kids.com. Vile! So I’ve gone back to the drawing board, amazed to find that most of my silliest ideas have been registered already and promising myself I won’t use any numbers, nerd-speak or h-yph-ens. The other danger in naming any site selling products for children is ending up with something that is so cute it’s gag-inducing, so I’m trying to watch for that.