Pioneer success stories – The Record Cafe

Interview with Keith from The Record Cafe

Tell us about your experiences of being a Green Street Pioneer:

Very positive so far! Sometimes it’s great to have someone else’s view of what you’re doing. An outside perspective helps you identify gaps, you can’t think of everything alone and you can’t pretend to be an expert in everything. So when a person or org with specific expertise comes in you’ve got to take that opportunity to listen and learn from people who know what they’re talking about. I like to think that a lot of sustainability practices are common sense. It’s not in my interest to waste money, and I want to recycle where possible because why would you not? For me, it’s become second nature, we were already trying to do that, but it’s been nice to have someone come in and help us.

Go on, tell us what changes you made and did you save any cash?

Main things are recycled bin bags, which are a little cheaper. About 20p per bag difference and everything adds up! We reuse cardboard packaging as padding for records mailed out, we use brown paper bags, and recycle packaging. Tightening up on insulation has been done, again this improves the business environment overall.

The next big thing to amend is the overhead heaters. Once they go they will need replacing, at which point we’ll look at a more sustainable option. In order to change the overhead heaters we could really use some support in applying for funding where applicable and hopefully save electricity, fuel and the environmental impact should decrease.

The overhead system is used for the air con too, and we really need heating in winter. I guess it’s all about weighing up those decisions, spending to save in the long run. The viability of running a business and trying to be sustainable can be challenging to navigate, but Green Street has been helpful.

Anything that Green Street could have done differently?

I thought the approach has been well handled, we’ve been happy with the process. It’s been smooth, everyone has been friendly, informative and nice to deal with. The social media side has been really positive with PR, very professional. It definitely helps to have face-to-face contact time. You can tell the team are knowledgeable as they quickly get to the point.

So, what can we help Record Cafe with next?

We’re really interested in support on what grants or funding is available to replace the overhead heating system and if Green Street is able to help in any way, whether through match funding or advice.

Our door gets lots of condensation so we could use a new sticker for the door too as ours peeled off sadly!

Any advice for other businesses?

Becoming more sustainable is not a hassle, you’ve got to weigh up savings vs cost. A lot of it is putting in place lots of little steps that are common sense and also save you money in the long run. One step at a time! Better insulation for example, saves money on electricity, but also gets your customers more comfortable and makes the space more inviting.

There are very simple things you can do that are common sense. If bigger things are feel out of reach then those changes are to think about further down the line. Take small steps and keep building!

If you want to be greener, you really don’t need to jump straight to riding an e-cargo bike and only eating lentils. People aren’t inherently bad, they can and want to change and if you focus on the benefits and taking small steps, people will get on board.

No point trying to please everyone! Pick what you believe in, what you think is great, and stick to that. You can never please everyone but you can shine at what you do best. Stick to what you care about and then you can share knowledge on that.

Know your USP!

The green sustainability side doesn’t come up too much, but customers can see we don’t use single-use plastic etc. We don’t necessarily go out of our way to share what we do around sustainability as we don’t want it to take away from business goals and should be part of everyday practice anyway. I just think that your actions speak louder than words sometimes

What advice would you give to other businesses wanting to go greener?

  • Easy steps include; going for normal reusable cutlery and plates and washing them up, absolutely no need for disposables if you’re an eat in restaurant.
  • Even the recycled options take up energy, so think about where you can reuse instead wherever possible.
  • Brown bags for records won’t apply to all businesses but solutions like that are super cheap and eco. We keep spare plastic bags from other shopping trips on hand just in case (if it rains for example), so at least those are being reused too.
  • Why not reuse stuff from deliveries? It’s really easy and free!
  • Stamping became a really easy branding tool for us for recyclable brown bags. There are ways to implement your brand and be eco friendly too!
  • A lot of the practices we have in place are for our convenience too. Eventually these become second nature once you change your thinking.

It’s not about striking for perfection, but for small changes that can be implemented easily. Don’t be scared of making those changes, businesses don’t need to aim for perfection. If it works out beneficial for the business then even better, you can pick what works for you and your business. If everyone does that and has some changes then it will make a huge difference collectively.

So much amazing advice! Thanks so much, Keith!


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