Category Archives: going green

To the moon and back on a bike made for Londoners

Boris-BikeHaving tried My first ride on a ‘Boris Bike’ last October, I am now a confirmed fan of the Barclays Cycle Hire service from Transport for London, and have purchased an annual subscription.

According to yesterday’s Evening Standard, cyclists using the Mayor’s “Boris bikes” have travelled the equivalent of 13 times to the moon and back in the scheme’s first six months.

Apparently more than 2.5 million trips had been undertaken on the hire bikes since they were introduced on 30 July last year. Transport for London has calculated that cyclists would have ridden 6.2 million miles on the bikes – assuming they travelled at an average speed of 10mph. On the busiest day, the 4,800 bikes were used a total of 27,500 times.

It is good to hear that the scheme will be expanding to reach 6,000 bikes and 400 docking stations by the Spring of 2011.

However, it is still some way behind the Vélib scheme in Paris introduced in 2007,  which has grown to 17,000 bicycles and docking 1,202 stations.

My first ride on a ‘Boris Bike’

Looking forward to a greener New Year with my Keep Cup

Just before the holidays our intranet announced that we could ‘buy a reusable cup and receive 10 free hot drinks’. This was part of the Library’s commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility.

I was keen to try it out, and have been using my Keep Cup for a couple of weeks now, and am very happy with it. According to their blog, Pret have also recently trialled the Keep Cup.

The cups, available in a range of colours, cost £6.00 but customers receive 10 free hot drinks as an incentive.  The disposable cups that the Library uses for its takeaway hot drinks have a waterproof waxed coating that means that they cannot be recycled. As part of the Library’s on-going initiative to reduce waste, Peyton & Byrne have identified a product that will reduce the amount of takeaway cups used and provide staff with a better quality takeaway hot drink.

The KeepCup is a high quality reusable cup manufactured from the safest food grade plastic. It is for use with either hot or cold drinks. It has a sealable lid and sipper hole and is pleasing to drink from with the lid either on or off.

It is thermally insulated, keeping coffee hot for 30-40 minutes longer than a disposable cup. Each cup also has a thermal silicone band to ensure the cup can be carried comfortably and safely.

More consumer trends from Insider Trends

My colleague Frances Taylor recently attended an Insider Trends workshop in the Business & IP Centre.

Although I wrote a report on a similar workshop, How to become a cutting-edge retailer, Francis has noted some additional useful points.

Predictions from Insider Trends

Key trend 1: The recession

§        With the new government, spending cuts and changes in policy, it’s entering a new phase.

§        Food and energy costs are rising.

§        There is worry amongst consumers about the recession, even if it does not affect them personally.

§        Consumers are making more considered choices and buying budget brands.

§        Premium or ‘added-value’ products are still doing well, but only if they have real benefits, e.g. helping the environment or offering customised services.

§        Consumers are spending more time at home on activities such as baking and gardening.  Now 1 in 5 consumers grow their own fruit and vegetables.

§        The community is important: consumers are buying locally and supporting green initiatives. There is concern about pesticides and additives in food, and distrust of large corporates.

Tips for marketing:

§        Be clear and transparent in your messages.

§        Avoid hidden costs.

§        Offer free trials, 30 day guarantees and testimonials.

§        Focus on benefits not features.

§        Create new benefits to stand out, e.g. same day delivery.

Key trend 2: Genuine individuals

§        By 2020 there will be more single people than married people in the UK.

§        By 2018, 18% of households will be ‘single person households’.

§        This is affecting buying habits, e.g. people are buying smaller portions of food such as smaller loaves of bread.

§        Living in urban areas and single-person households means that interior design has become more compact.

§        Co-creation has taken off i.e. consumers helping to shape the products they buy, such as the Nike ID trainers.

Key trend 3: Technology

§        The mobile internet is really taking off.

§        Mobile apps are a growth industry which will be worth over 50 billion by 2020.

§        Smart phone owners are buying on average one app per month.

§        Location-based apps are becoming popular such as Foursquare.

§        The ‘perpetual beta’ has become the norm.

§        There is more experimentation e.g. retail trucks and pop-up shops, secret restaurants, etc.

§        Consumers feel like there is too much choice which can be overwhelming.

§        There is a movement of consumers that are ‘unplugging’, which is also called ‘the slow movement’.  For example slow cooking, gardening, home brewing, etc.

§        Some technology solutions have hidden complexity, e.g. the iphone.  It can perform a lot of functions, but is very simple and intuitive to use.

§        QR codes are being used on products for more information, for example, to show the ingredients on McDonald’s products.

My first ride on a ‘Boris Bike’

My shiny new Barclays Cycle Hire key arrived last night, so today at lunch time I rushed out to give it a try.

The experience was a mixed one, but mainly positive. The thrill of whizzing along quiet London back-streets, and arriving at my destination far quicker than walking were the main benefits.

The downsides are other traffic and pedestrians. Within minutes of setting off, I had been nudged by an impatient taxi driver, and nearly run over a couple of pedestrians who stepped out in front of me (a case of saved by the bell). Also the three gears are a bit limiting. First is fine for a quick get away from the traffic lights, but it could really do with another couple further up to slow down the legs on the flat or downhill sections. Probably the biggest disappointment was the poor state of repair our roads are in. I had to swerve around a couple of enormous potholes, and was glad the bikes are such a sturdy construction.

The other current snag is the lack of locations to pick up and leave the bikes. My nearest docking station is a good five minutes walk away, and I had the same problem at my Holborn destination. Although thanks to the computerised system I was able to ensure the parked bikes were properly registered (Boris warns of teething problems).

Despite all of the above, I’m already looking forward to my next adventure on a Boris Bike.

Londoners pedaling into a greener future

Thanks to yet another failed journey into work, courtesy of my First Capital Connect Thameslink ‘service’, I ended up walking from Holborn to The British Library this morning (Severe delays on First Capital Connect’s Thameslink route).

This the first time I have walked this route (along the delightful Lamb’s Conduit Street) for a year or so. Immediately I was struck by the number of bicycles parked along the pavement attached to a variety of secure street furniture, including of course Anthony Lau’s Cyclehoops. Even more impressive was the number and variety of bikes on the road. As well as the range of cyclists. I saw young men on speedy racing bikes and retired folk on the amazing Brompton folding bikes.

And all this before the rather delayed‎ introduction of the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme for London. I wonder if Londoners will take to the idea with the same enthusiasm as the Parisians who love their Vélib’ scheme.

Green Britain Day and my lunch-time Prêt bag

I’m a bit late in covering Green Britain Day, but like to feel I have been doing my bit over the last few months.

In particular I am somewhat proud of my recycling (re-using to be more accurate) of my daily lunch-time Prêt A Manger bag. I’ve just retired the bag on the left which I have been using since early March. I estimate the saving is approximately 75 bags so far, which isn’t bad going. In doing so I have also gained something of a reputation at my local Prêt as the ‘bag man’. And on occasion my efforts have been rewarded with a free coffee from one of their lovely staff.

Some of the them have said they think Prêt should offer some kind of incentive for regular customers to re-use their bags.

As is so often the way, Britain lags behind the rest of Europe in ‘greenness’, so I have included a link to how the Dutch recycle, and what we can learn from them.

Free broker research reports on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues

Having worked in the City of London for many years, I was somewhat surprised to discover that financial institutions are now giving away their highly valued stockbrokers reports.
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Needless to say they aren’t giving everything out, but through the The London Accord, you can get access to nearly 100 reports on a range of green and ethical related topics.
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Welcome to the London Accord
The London Accord presents a compendium of reports, written by a range of financial services firms, providing insight into issues ranging from renewable energy to the price of carbon.

The financial services industry produces pertinent and valuable research which could, and should, be used by policy makers and NGOs who are shaping society’s response to long-term issues such as climate change and global pandemics. However, much of this research only sees the desks of a select few and all too soon disappears into the filing systems and cupboards of the commercial sector.

The London Accord allows access to this research free of charge – offering policy makers an insight which they may not otherwise access and giving the financial services industry a way of engaging with society on long-term issues. The London Accord is simple, get more recognition and value from research by sharing what you are about to archive.

My free Coffee from Prêt in exchange for taking the One Pot Pledge

One Pot PledgeAs I am sure you’ll have spotted, I’m always on the lookout for novel marketing ideas. The healthy marketing goes bananas is one of my favourites to date.

So imagine my pleasure, when popping out for my lunch-time sandwich, to be offered a free coffee in exchange for promising to nurture a Basil plant.

I did feel a bit of a fraud as I already have a small organic vegetable plot at home, but the attitude today seemed to be ‘the more thee merrier’. Maybe it was my good karma for spending an hour last night digging out my compost heap.

I think congratulations are also due to Prêt A Manger for allowing some of their most popular outlets to host the One Pot Pledge volunteers and to give away tea and coffee to pledgers.

The One Pot Pledge® is an exciting new grow your own campaign from leading gardening charity Garden Organic. Our aim is to get 30,000 people who have never grown anything before to give growing a go.

Growing your own food can be fun, it tastes great and you don’t even need a garden – one pot on a window ledge is all you need to get started.

Garden Organic is the UK’s leading organic growing charity and we can help you by providing useful information to get you growing, with handy tips along the way.

So why not ‘give it a grow’ and make your One Pot Pledge® today to grow something tasty you can eat.

If you already grow your own then we still need your help to inspire non-growers to make the One Pot Pledge®. You can join the campaign as a Gardening Guru and use your skills to help teach others to grow.

Green and ethical month in the Business & IP Centre

May is Green and ethical month in the Business & IP Centre.

We have been inspired by our very successful Web in Feb month of activities to produce a Green in May month (except that it doesn’t rhyme).

As we know from our customers coming in to the Centre, Green and ethical business is growing fast.

Surveys show that 79 per cent of consumers would rather buy from companies that limit their environmental impact.

Throughout May we’re holding special events that explore green and ethical business: the opportunities, the practicalities and the reasons to get involved. Hear from eco-experts and meet entrepreneurs who are making a difference with their businesses.

We have also updated our guide to useful information sources for starting a green or ethical business.

Week one

Get more local
Get More Local
Tuesday 6, 18.00 – 20.00, free

Week two

Green money – beginner’s guide to business finance
Johnny Martin
Monday 10, 16.45 – 19.45, £9 – a special price for social enterprises

The cutting edge of green
Insider Trends
Tuesday 11, 18.00 – 20.00, £10 when booking with discount code “BritishLibrary”

Make the trade
London Community Resource Network
Wednesday 12, 10.00 – 13.00, free

Legal milestones for green business
Keystone Law
Thursday 13, 18.00 – 21.00, £25 – with a 50% discount for British Library contacts, quote “BL2010”

Week three

Raising money for green and ethical businesses
MessageLab and the Funding Game
Monday 17, 13.00 – 17.00, £25 +VAT

Managing an ethical business
Red Ochre
Thursday 20, 14.00 – 17.00, £25 Inc VAT

Social entrepreneurs without limits
Unltd World
Thursday 20, 18.00 – 20.00, free

Week four

Developing organic and ethical skincare products
She’s Ingenious!
Tuesday 25, 11.00 – 13.00, £25

Starting a social enterprise
Red Ochre
Thursday 27, 10.00 – 16.00, £50 inc VAT

Our ‘Green and ethical month’ events
Week oneGet more local
Get More Local
Tuesday 6, 18.00 – 20.00, free
Week two

Green money – beginner’s guide to business finance
Johnny Martin
Monday 10, 16.45 – 19.45, £9 – a special price for social enterprises

The cutting edge of green
Insider Trends
Tuesday 11, 18.00 – 20.00, £10 when booking with discount code “BritishLibrary”

Make the trade
London Community Resource Network
Wednesday 12, 10.00 – 13.00, free

Legal milestones for green business
Keystone Law
Thursday 13, 18.00 – 21.00, £25 – with a 50% discount for British Library contacts, quote “BL2010”
Week three

Raising money for green and ethical businesses
MessageLab and the Funding Game
Monday 17, 13.00 – 17.00, £25 +VAT

Managing an ethical business
Red Ochre
Thursday 20, 14.00 – 17.00, £25 Inc VAT

Social entrepreneurs without limits
Unltd World
Thursday 20, 18.00 – 20.00, free
Week four

Developing organic and ethical skincare products
She’s Ingenious!
Tuesday 25, 11.00 – 13.00, £25

Starting a social enterprise
Red Ochre
Thursday 27, 10.00 – 16.00, £50 inc VAT

Marks & Spencer wants your green idea

I was somewhat surprised to see a full page advert in the Evening Standard the other night offering a £100,000 prize for the best green idea.

Your Green Idea is all part of Marks and Spencer’s commitment to be the ‘world’s most sustainable major retailer by 2015’. They have already made a start with Fairtrade, organic and recycled products, and a 5p charge for plastic bags (with the money going to Groundwork charity).

I like the idea that the £100,000 for the winning idea goes to the winner’s nominated green charity, rather than into their own bank account.