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Easy effective ideas to offset your small business carbon footprint

Tips on greening up your small sustainable business

Mr Bobo our lovely dog here at Honeybuns bakery

Happy Veganuary to everyone,

Following on from our previous blog when I was just getting to grips with a daunting delivery of 100s of hedging plants, I’d like to share with you an update on our tree planting and other muddy welly activities from Honeybuns HQ, Dorset. With our gluten free bakery still in partial hibernation due to the current Covid lockdown, we were keen to make constructive use of any down time. Kitted out with woolly hat, garden fork and trusty wellies, I’ve been lucky enough to spend a good portion of January out there in the elements, accompanied by our bakery mascot, Mr Bobo and a very friendly robin. Graham, from our bakery team, has been focusing on planting various types of willow to mitigate the flooding we get in one of the fields. Tree planting has taken up most of my time but I’ve also had a go at bramble management (yes it’s apparently a thing!) and some re wilding.

Take a look at Em's video 
For a guided tour of Em's planting plans in our nature reserve, please do check out her video below.
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Honeybuns Eco Credentials

I started Honeybuns back in 1998 by baking from home and delivering cakes to local delis and cafes by bicycle. Running an ethical and sustainable business was both the vision and the motivation. In 2012 we launched our “Bee Green" initiative. Bee Green is the umbrella under which all of our eco friendly activities sit. From sourcing greener packaging to setting up beehives we’re always looking for ways to reduce our environmental impact.

Honeybuns bakery Bee Green logo
trees planted in wild meadow

We’ve linked up with The Woodland Trust, Bumblebee Conservation Trust and Compassion in World Farming on specific environmental projects and we’ve been very grateful for their expert advice.

Before doing all of the outside, creative green projects we started with the basics which I’ve outlined here.

First steps to creating a Greener Business

Conducting a DIY green audit of your business is a good way to get started.

Key areas to look at include:

eco packaging box and green bubblewrap

1. Packaging

For example is all cardboard recycled and recyclable? Can plastic be replaced with greener alternatives? Are inks vegetable based and eco friendly? Start by listing all of your packaging components and check their eco credentials and ask your suppliers for greener alternatives. Letting your customers and your team know what you are doing will also help establish your greener company culture. You can draw up an eco questionnaire for all your suppliers (not just packaging) to check how green they and their products are.

2. Team transport

How about incentivising shared lifts for team members who live close/en-route to work? Creating a simple questionnaire for our team proved helpful- a barrier to cycling to work was the lack of a shower. Since installing one, we have two team members who now travel in by push bike.

illustrated solar panel

3. Energy

After installing solar panels we now get 40% of our energy this way on a sunny day and we have more panels planned for 2021. Ground and air source heat pumps, improved insulation and greener energy providers are all worth looking into. Grants from government and local councils can be investigated to offset the expense.

4. Recycling and composting

Making the “right choice the easy choice” was one of the best bits of advice we were given with regard to rubbish bins for the team (in production, office and rest areas). Plenty of bins, clearly labelled and easy to access make it easier to recycle and make it part of your company culture. Composting bins right by the tea and coffee station makes sense. Space allowing why not create onsite composting bins or bays? Keen gardeners on your team can benefit from ultra locally produced compost. Or how about donating it to community garden projects?

Compost heap at honeybuns with sign

Waste can also be worth £ something. All of our aluminium foil and scrap metal is collected in an on site skip for recycling. The money we are paid for it then gets spent again on more trees and hedging plants.

skip filled with foil trays
Signage

5. Reducing traffic to your site

Do you have scope for reducing the number of suppliers who come to drop off and collect from your site?

At Honeybuns we invested in more storage space so we could bulk up on ingredients, packaging, cleaning products, etc thus reducing the frequency of lorries and vans visiting us. Similarly we now dispatch goods in bigger loads - we rejigged our dispatch days with customers to ensure we fill a van or lorry up as efficiently as possible. We’ve managed to reduce onsite traffic by 20% since extending our storage areas.

How we’ve created our own DIY nature reserve

At Honeybuns we are incredibly lucky to be based on an old Dorset dairy farm surrounded by fields. We’ve prioritised re wilding the fields surrounding us by planting lots of native trees with the help of the Woodland Trust. We then leave nature to do the rest. Brambles are allowed to spread, hedges are left to grow “woolly” and grass is left to go to seed before it has its annual haircut. All these non interventions result in improved habitats for insects, birds and mammals. Brambles, for instance, keep predators at bay and allow birds to nest in safety. We referred to inspiring books such as “Wilding” by Isabella Tree. The general rule of thumb is less is more in terms of human interference.

meadow coppice area with hand painted sign

Tips on how you can re wild and green up your work space

- There is now lots of evidence available supporting the argument for having natural greenery in your office or work space. Clearly, we cannot have house plants in the bakery/production areas but we’ve got a plan in place for 2021 to place green plants in our office and the team rest area. By absorbing CO2 and releasing oxygen, plants are a wonderful , natural air conditioner. The colour green has been show to soothe and provide balance, http://www.colour-affects.co.uk/ and brings the calming effect of nature right to your desk. Remember to research which plants will thrive indoors and factor in how much natural light they will get and how good you are at watering.

Great, low maintenance indoor plants include: spider, cheese and air plants.

- Even with limited outside space it’s possible to improve on your biodiversity. Try planting espaliered fruit trees against an office wall. You’ll need containers of at least 3 feet in depth and wires to support the branches which will grow horizontally. You’ll be helping out pollinators and providing fruit later in the year for humans and birds. We’ve grown apples, pears and plums in this way. Just be aware trees can become scorched in full sun and you will need to set up some kind of simple irrigation system.

Espalier fruit trees against roly at Honeybuns bakery

- On the subject of irrigation it’s so easy to set up water butts to collect run off rainwater from roofs. You can get water butts with taps which allow you to fill a water can from or connect your irrigation pipes to.

- Everyone loves a wildflower meadow, especially the butterflies, moths and bees. If you’re short on space simply scatter seeds into cracks in pathways and into planter tubs. They will look gorgeous from May onwards (UK) and will be alive with the hum of happy insects.

I hope this goes some way to encouraging you to get your wellies muddy!

wellies upside down

Please see helpful book resources below:

Wilding by Isabella Tree

It’s not Easy Being Green

Honeybuns All Day Cook Book for inspo on how to use up home grown veg

If you like this blog, why not read about our Big Dig Day and the  survival rate of the saplings we planted.

Comment below and share what your favourite part of this blog is! Be sure to share this blog with a friend too! Thanks for reading!

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