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Bristol Waterfront

Go on Bristol, Go Green

24th December 2015 | bristol environment

At the time of year when many of us have undergone the actually slightly bizarre ritual of moving all the living room furniture around, dragging an entire actual tree across the room and hanging stuff on it for a few weeks, what better time to talk about the environment and, more specifically, how businesses can easily plan to minimise their impact on it?


By the way, cutting down Christmas trees isn’t actually as bad as you may think. Many are from sustainable crops and there are lots of ways you can make sure you have a ‘green’ Christmas tree!


Bristol climate march


Following a particularly damp march (in clothing rather than spirits) through Bristol for climate change, there’s praise and criticism to be aimed at the results coming from the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris a couple of weeks ago.


Thankfully, there did seem to be a genuine desire and understanding by most attending countries that something substantial had to be discussed and agreed upon. There were of course different motivations at play: political, economical and ideological, and whilst the negotiations probably missed the Southern accent and terrifying charisma of House of Cards’ Frank Underwood, they were hopefully a little more well-meaning.


house of cards


Bristol has recognised the need for a shift to more sustainable living arrangements for years now and this has only increased in the past year with the city bearing the title European Green Capital for 2015. It’s now not an uncommon sight to see the affectionately termed ‘poo-bus’ odourlessly powering itself around the streets.


One of the positive outcomes of the Paris talks is that governments have now agreed to limit warming to 1.5c above pre-industrial levels (we’ve just hit 1c), a substantial decrease from 2c as previously agreed. However, one of the criticisms of the agreement is that it doesn’t contain enough tangible and regulated plans to get us there; it’s perhaps a bit ‘all talk and no game’.


Tangible and realistic plans are also something that businesses and organisations can be in need of when it comes to addressing their own carbon footprint. Fortunately, Bristol is once again ahead of the curve and is providing its businesses with some structure and advice for helping them to ‘Go Green’.


Go Green logo


Go Green is an initiative setup and ran by Low Carbon South West as a result of the city’s ‘European Green Capital’ status and it’s really simple to start getting involved. It’s free to sign up and works for businesses of any size; from one man teams like myself to large multinational corporations.


The initiative revolves around three stages: you begin as ‘Say It’, which is pretty much just showing an interest, ‘Do It’, which is once you’ve made your plan for change, and ‘Prove It’ which is proving your success. Reaching the ‘Prove It’ status has all sorts of advantages that are good for your business as well as the environment and low carbon economy.


To start register here. After entering your company details you can create a bespoke ‘Action Plan’ for your business which is built around five key themes: Energy and Efficiency, Travel and Transport, Planning and Resilience, Happy and Healthy and Sustainable Sourcing. By selecting potential issues in each category (there’s no typing required which is a bonus!) you build up an overview of the areas of impact that your business has and the things that are to be tackled. Once you’ve done this you are considered to be ‘Doing Good’, which is always nice to know.


Bristol Go Green Screenshot


Next you’re presented with your ‘Action Plan’, showing the actions you can take to tackle your specific issues. Many actions are already populated for you to choose from (again, no typing!) and you can add and remove your own depending on what fits your business. These actions are saved automatically so you can come back and revisit them, setting their statuses from ‘Not Started’ to ‘In Progress’ and then finally ‘Complete’ by adding the evidence to support it.


Here are some of my actions to take. I’ll post updates as I complete the various tasks so you can make sure I’m keeping on track and hold me to account!


  • Use Bristol’s local currency, the Bristol Pound
  • Trial using a digital signing service
  • Host websites on servers powered by renewable energy
  • Cycle, walk or take public transport when possible to travel to meetings and events
  • Buy and use more local products and suppliers


So, when 2016 rolls around, first take down the rather sad looking tree that’s in the corner of the room and then sign your business up to Go Green. Go on Bristol, get on the path to helping hit those climate change targets.