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‘Going for Gold’ – Good Food Changes that Bristol businesses can make

Catherine Correia is CR Manager at Burges Salmon, the independent UK law firm. She spends most of her time managing the firm’s community engagement programme which is focused around education, the environment and social mobility. She sits on the firm’s Environment Committee and Diversity & Inclusion group.

As a responsible business, Burges Salmon has a strong commitment to its people, its local community and to reducing its impact on the environment. They were appointed as the official legal services partner for Bristol 2015 Ltd, the company responsible for delivering the programme of events for Bristol’s year as European Green Capital in 2015.

The great thing about my job is the variety of initiatives and programmes that I get to know about or get involved in; the great thing about working in Bristol, is that there is no shortage of fantastic people making these things happen! Perhaps one of the many reasons Bristol has been voted ‘best place to live’ in this year’s Sunday Times Best Places to Live Guide.

Back in September I was approached by Jacqui Reeves of Bristol Food Network, who explained how Bristol was one of only two cities in the UK (the other being Brighton) to have become a Silver Award Sustainable Food City, and her role was to try and work with other organisations, including businesses, to try and achieve the Gold Award.

In order to get businesses on board with ‘Going for Gold’, the Bristol Food Network was working with Bristol Green Capital Partnership and Go Green to organise a Business Breakfast. This event would highlight the changes businesses can make to their food practices, and the benefits this can bring.

Food is an important part of Burges Salmon’s sustainability and community work – for example the reduction of food waste is a priority, and staff have taken part in volunteering schemes at places such as FareShare, Feed Bristol and The Community Farm. We therefore very much wanted to be involved, and agreed to host the breakfast. I also suggested our caterer, Baxter Storey whom I know take sustainability very seriously, present at the event.

The Business Breakfast was held on 7th November and it was great to see a good and varied attendance. There were very interesting presentations by:

Mike Hanson, Head of Sustainable business, Baxter Storey, on how they have significantly reduced their overall waste and food waste. I was particularly interested in hearing they are using the UN sustainable development goals to frame their strategy as we are currently looking into this as well.

Head of Sustainability at Stride Treglown, Rob Delius, made us all want to work for them! They have come up with the most innovative ‘Green Week’ ideas, from converting their director’s car park place into a green spot with a sun lounger, to hosting bees for a local beekeeper and giving surplus honey to their clients. They have converted part of their garden into a ‘firm allotment’ which everybody is encouraged to maintain…the list goes on.

Steve Ashworth, from Smith & Williamson talked about the challenges for businesses and how his firm has taken some steps towards having a more sustainable approach towards food, but there is much more work to be done – such as tackling the vending machine and levels of food waste after events.

After giving us a bit more background around the city’s challenges around food: with pockets of deprivation where people can’t access or afford quality food and children going to school hungry, Jacqui closed the event with a call for action, encouraging all present to pledge to make small changes to the food practices at their organisation.

The suggested Good Food Changes for Business included choosing Fairtrade coffee and tea, providing tap water instead of bottled water, and ensuring food waste is separated. I’m glad to say that Burges Salmon already does all these things but we can definitely do more, particularly as we are accredited to ISO 14001 and are committed to reducing our impact on the environment.

I left the event feeling inspired and energised, and hopeful that if businesses in the city better understand the benefits these changes can bring, we can make a real difference to the city’s food system, and help Bristol achieve Gold.

What Good Food Changes could your business make? Have a look at these ten suggestions and tell us what changes you’re planning to introduce by filling in this short form. Also, if your business is interested in knowing more about Going for Gold and how to get involved, please email Claire at claire@bristolgreencapital.org

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