There’s nothing like a global-pandemic-induced lockdown to help people reassess their priorities, and one trend (which we hope will remain permanently!) is a renewed appreciation for the importance of green spaces as vital for our wellbeing. Protecting the environment is not just about future generations, as the effects of global heating are already having an impact on communities around the world. It can be daunting to know where to start with reducing your carbon footprint, since it is a complex challenge, so we have highlighted some of the Oxfordshire-based businesses you may not have heard of who can help you take those next steps, be they large or small.
It can be easier (and less expensive) than you think to incorporate sustainable changes in your lifestyle, especially with these companies covering everything from DIY to hair care!
Share Oxford are dedicated to helping people reduce waste and consume less. Their flagship project is the Library of Things, a scheme that allows you to hire those one-off pieces of equipment, from power tools to camping gear, without the associated waste that comes with buying. Share Oxford also run a repair cafe, where you can bring your broken items, and skilled volunteers will look into fixing them, so you can avoid chucking them away. The next one will be on 5th September 2020 - booking is essential.
It’s a little-known fact that Oxford is home to the UK’s first carbon neutral hair salon. Anne Veck has been certified as Carbon Neutral+ (the + means they actually reduce more carbon than they emit), achieved through a number of measures including energy saving (they have a fabulously futuristic machine that sucks water off your hair instead of using heat to blow-dry!), offsetting, using sustainable dyes and treatments, and enhanced recycling. Self care has never been so selfless!
Need a durable piece of furniture? Or maybe you’ve got a DIY project that requires timber? Either way, Oxford Wood Recycling is the place to go if you want to incorporate sustainability and social impact into your interiors. Their furniture store has a gorgeous selection of shelving, tables and benches, while their wood shop provides beams and boards at competitive prices - all while preventing wood from rotting in landfill or being incinerated.
Caring for your clothes is one way to reduce the environmental impact of fast fashion - but typically, laundry and especially dry cleaning are hugely water- and energy- intensive, and washing synthetic fabrics like nylon causes plastic pollution in our waterways. Green tech company Oxwash collect your laundry by bike, and wash it in their cutting edge machines. Powered by onsite renewable energy, they use sterile reclaimed water to reduce consumption, and a filtration system for capturing microfibres.
Sustain Your Creativity
These local legends are proving that the arts and protecting the environment can go hand in hand
A haven for crafters of all kinds, Orinoco collects waste materials from businesses and sells them by the bag for creative projects. You’ll find beads, fabrics, paints and all sorts of interesting items to upcycle. The shop is currently closed while they relocate, so keep an eye on their website for announcements.
Oxford’s poetry peddlers use a custom-built cargo bike to connect communities while inspiring a love of literature. The renewable (volunteer-powered) mobile library can be found at farmers’ markets, festivals and other community events, and it’s free to borrow from their collection. They also host a number of workshops, notably the Lost Words workshops, aimed at helping kids appreciate the natural world through creativity.
Individual action can only go so far - for real change to occur, business also needs to lead the way when it comes to reducing carbon emissions. These locally-based services could help transform your workplace.
If your workplace is seeking new headquarters, get in touch with the Ethical Property Co, whose flagship space is The Old Music Hall on Cowley Rd. They offer office and meeting space which is managed with the environment in mind.
Blackbird Leys-based RAW Workshop offers a range of corporate services, from waste collection to grounds maintenance. If you have a construction project that’s generated waste wood, they can collect it for less than the price of a skip, and give it a new lease of life. At the other end, they provide recycled wood furniture to businesses such as offices, shops and restaurants - you might recognise their work in the Oxfam Superstore or the Turl Street Kitchen, and most recently they provided the planters which have helped pedestrianise George Street and St Michael’s Street.
Need something couriered in Oxford? Let delivery vans be a thing of the past, and send with Pedal and Post instead! They use cargo bikes to transport items across the city while avoiding polluting vehicles. They also have a self-storage site which offers discounts to green or social enterprises.
Low Carbon Hub works with SMEs to help reduce corporate energy usage through energy audits and other incentives. Their corporate services also include installing solar panels, allowing you to generate clean energy while you work!