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Sustainable businesses in the South East: 7 companies to watch

By Kani Talabani
3 November 2021

The UK was named the fourth most sustainable country in the world this year, with an EPI (Environmental Performance index) score of 81.3 out of ten other countries on the list. The index takes into consideration how each country manages pollution emissions, climate change and sanitation among other criteria. Businesses in the South East have been adopting more sustainable and environmentally-friendly methods of working to make this the new normal in a bid to help the climate change movement - each borough has its part to play. Today, more than 80 countries signed a ‘methane deal’ to dramatically cut emissions by 30% by the end of this decade. Here is a non-exhaustive list of sustainable businesses that caught our eye... 

Palace Farm Hostel and Campsite, Kent

In recent years the tourism industry has become more sustainable through the protection of natural environments and the rise of green accommodation in correspondence with eco-tourism. Palace Farm has been awarded the gold Green Tourism certification for its eco-hostel and campsite. Located in the rural area of Kent, Palace Farm uses low-energy heating, lighting, thermostatic radiators, and utilises environmentally-friendly building materials. Most importantly, it has become a fun destination for people in search of a quiet, scenic landscape. 

Karpāsa London, Slough

The demand for more sustainable fashion rather than fast-fashion has led to the increase of greener apparel stores across the world. Berkshire startup company Karpāsa London is an organic cotton luxury store specialising in making eco-friendly cotton home textiles and various other products. In response to the growing cotton market in the UK, Karpāsa aims to help customers steer towards more sustainable and organic cotton options. 

Harriets of Hove, East Sussex

When you hear the word ‘supermarket’ you think of the butchers or masses of packaged junk food; a young couple in East Sussex aims to challenge that stereotype. Harriet and Mhiran started the small independent business Harriet’s of Hove to help with sustainable living in the community; all of their products are plant-based and free of single-use plastic. Their best-selling products include vegan mayonnaise, sweets and bath bombs. The shop is located in the outskirts of Brighton pier overlooking the English Channel. 

Oxfordshire Greentech, Oxfordshire

According to Carbon Brief, the UK is halfway to meeting its net-zero emissions target. Oxfordshire Greentech is a business network that promotes the low carbon sector by encouraging smaller organisations to adopt more sustainable, low-carbon lifestyles. The network originally started as a £3.2m project that aimed to increase low carbon development in Oxfordshire. Now, they have created a platform and forum for sustainable businesses to share their ideas on how to incorporate low carbon into their business structure. 

Guildford Indoor Hydro Project, Guildford

Up to 40% of our renewable energy is provided to us by hydro powered sources despite there being only four conventional hydroelectric power stations in the whole of the UK. Located in the centre of Guildford, the Guildford Hydro Project started producing power in 2006; the hydropower turbine is powered by an old water mill that uses the flow of the River Wey to create renewable energy that powers the homes in the surrounding area. 

Rapanui Clothing

Clothes and fabric manufacturer Rapanui Clothing repurposes clothes, uses natural plastic-free materials for their products and packaging, and powers their equipment using renewable energy. According to Ethical Consumer, it was voted the seventh best ethical clothing company in 2020 because of the way their factories are powered, and due to their ratings for Pollution and Toxics and Supply Chain Management.  Based in Isle of Wight, the company has also collaborated with BBC Earth to create a ‘unique’ collection of t-shirts and jumpers to ‘celebrate the natural world’. 

County Supplies, Hampshire

Purchasing and supply organisation County Supplies is working with Hampshire council to ensure that their customers buy sustainably, work with more eco-oriented suppliers, and reduce an impact on the environment. They aim to do this by saving 20% in annual mileage and supply hundreds of products with environmental credentials. One of their suppliers recycles used coffee grounds into ‘eco-fuel’ and, in turn, uses this to power their coffee machines. Another advantage of this method is that the coffee grounds accelerate the decomposition of food waste, making landfill management much easier. 

If you feel that your borough doesn't have enough sustainable businesses and isn't contributing enough to climate action, tell us how this has affected you.