Finding London’s Best Sustainable Entrepreneurs | Sustainable business custodian



What do an 88-year-old refugee from World War II, a theater general manager with a doctorate in engineering, the co-founder of Red or Dead and a stylist have in common?

All four, Lotti Henley, Ben Todd, Wayne Hemingway and Zoë Robinson, have been chosen as London Leaders by the London Sustainable Development Commission, supported by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

The London Leaders program is an annual call to future leaders in the sustainable development of the capital. Anyone with a big idea for making London a more sustainable city – whether socially, environmentally or economically – can apply and the winners are promised support, mentorship and tools to develop their project. This year, the focus is on green entrepreneurs.

The previous winners are a diverse group. Retiree Henley was chosen for her online food waste map, Engineer Todd created a very low carbon theater in Hackney, Hemingway launched a pop-up store offering low-cost retail space, while that Robinson launched an initiative to sew Londoners.

Here the four leaders share some of their experiences.

Lotti Henley, 2011-2012 winner

Zheroes map

A group of us came up with the idea for Plan Zheroes. We wanted to create Zero Food Waste Heroes by getting London businesses with surplus food to donate it to nearby charities who need it to help feed people living in food poverty.

I had read so much about the large amounts of good food being sent to landfill every day by food companies, when so many people in the capital were living below the bread line. It sounded crazy and I was determined to take action.

Personally, I know what it’s like to not know where your next meal will come from. It started with my experience in WWII, I ended up in a camp with very little food, eating what I could out of garbage cans. This experience has shaped my entire life and I have never taken food for granted since.

Plan Zheroes has helped organizations such as Selfridges, Allen & Overy, Fullers and Paul UK donate their surplus food to charities such as Centrepoint, The Passage and the Astell Foundation.

We work alongside related charities such as FoodCycle and FareShare, as well as the Sustainable Restaurant Association and the Food Community Enterprise.

This year, we worked with the GLA Food Board and organizations like the Trussell Trust Food Banks to create the London Food Map, which helps families and people living in food poverty find free and low-cost food sources. cost close to their place of residence. live.

Plan Zheroes is now officially registered as a charity so that we can better fundraise for our work.

Ben Todd, 2009-2010 winner

Rulers of London: Rulers of London 1
Arcole of the future

My London Leaders project was to create a super low carbon theater at Dalston Junction for Arcola Theater – a much loved and respected Off-West End venue in the heart of Hackney.

The idea was not only to create a sustainable building, but also an incubator for an unusual ecosystem of businesses comprising art, ethical food and drink and green technologies. With the support of the London Leaders program, we have made great strides towards achieving our vision.

In 2010 we secured new premises owned by London Borough Hackney in a former paint factory then abandoned. With the help of over 1,000 volunteers and financial support from Bloomberg and hundreds of individual supporters, we embarked on a hasty conversion to open a new theater in January 2011.

Since then we have completed a second round of improvements, supported by a £ 1million investment from Arts Council England. This work included a wide range of low cost but effective sustainability measures, including extensive reuse of materials (including gates from the Olympics and thousands of bricks and many tons of steel and wood from our own demolitions) , double glazing, water conservation for toilets, a used wood heating system, a direct current micro-grid and low consumption lighting. Our natural ventilation system, which will soon be completed, will draw in the summer the fresh air from the skylight around the building into the theater spaces and exhaust it through the old factory chimney.

Along with the physical works, we have developed a clean green technology business. Arcola Energy – housed in our technology incubator – develops and supplies hydrogen fuel cell systems for a wide range of applications, including powering ultra-efficient city vehicles and replacing dirty diesel generators on construction sites . Arcola Energy works with all kinds of people, from developing Internet of Things connectivity with IBM to delivering cleantech workshops to over 5,000 children in the UK and abroad.

Wayne Hemingway, 2009-2010 winner

Rulers of London: Rulers of London 4

I launched KiosKiosK to provide free temporary retail space for creative start-ups, initially in central London.

After launching Red or Dead many years earlier from ‘easy in, easy out’ starter units at Camden and Kensington Markets and Affleck’s Palace in Manchester, I recognized that it was getting much more difficult. for someone with a great retail idea to find decent, affordable space.

KiosKiosk was a contextual solution to this problem. As a London leader, I wanted to encourage creative entrepreneurs to come forward and sell their products at KiosKisok in central London from July to September 2009 outside the iconic Town Hall.

We had everything in the kiosk, from jewelry and furniture to ceramics and clothing. When I started selling clothes in Camden it was priced at £ 6 per stand and £ 80 for a range of locations. They now charge over £ 1,700 per week for the locations I once had. It means the whole idea of ​​trying is gone and I think we need to get that back.

We were hoping that the low-cost pop-up shops would provide a model for London and other UK cities, offering a helping hand to potentially overpriced businesses, department stores and premier stores. order – and I think that’s proven to be the case.

KiosKiosk has since been touring other parts of London like Southbank, and other UK cities like Nottingham.

Zoë Robinson, 2012-2013 laureate

Leaders of London: Leaders of London 2
The right wardrobe

The Good Wardrobe is an online community hub mixing the best conscious fashion with services that extend the life of clothes. It is the antithesis of fast-fashion.

As a sustainable fashion writer, I have seen a growing demand for affordable, ethically sourced clothing, but over and over again I have heard people say that it is too hard to find or not very stylish. I wanted to remove these perceived barriers. I was also aware that valuable sewing skills are no longer passed down from generation to generation and as a result we no longer know how to mend our clothes, instead preferring to throw them away at the first sign of damage.

We have lost our appreciation for the labor involved in making clothes and are therefore reluctant to pay a fair price when we buy a new garment. We have also lost the communities through which we once shared such knowledge. When my sewing machine broke one day, I didn’t know where to get it fixed – who can I ask?

Since I started the business at the end of 2012, nearly 600 people have joined the site. Where The Good Wardrobe provides a platform for people to share their knowledge, our Sew It Forward initiative brings people together by encouraging them to share their sewing and mending skills.

We are now working with companies to create team building events and workshops based on the Sew It Forward initiative. We also offer partnership, sponsorship and publicity opportunities to businesses that share our “long life style” philosophy.

Applications to London Leaders Program are open from September 2 to 27, 2013

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