Every now and then a group of Taranaki business people get together for “green” drinks.
The drinks probably aren’t actually that colour, but you can guarantee they will be green in the new age sense of the word – because the people concerned will be sure they have been organically produced with the least impact on the environment as possible.
That’s because all these people operate their businesses with sustainability in mind.
They’re part of a worldwide trend towards making sure business activities impact as little as possible on the environment – by doing everything from recycling to using public transport to get to and from work.
An increasing number of these businesses are now members of an initiative called the Sustainable Business Network, which represents more than 700 organisations ranging from small businesses and not-for-profit organisations, through to large corporations.
SBN promotes sustainable business practice through networking, practical advice and the development of resources and tools.
It’s early days for the movement in Taranaki, and as a result the region is currently lumped in with the SBN’s Waikato region. But the organisation says that as soon as there is a stronger network of businesses in this region, there will be sufficient funding to create a stand-alone Taranaki branch.
Meanwhile, several Taranaki businesses and organisations did enter the 2009 Waikato/Taranaki Sustainable Business Network Awards, and the good news is that one business emerged a category winner.
Kina NZ Design + Art Space, which has its retail premises in downtown New Plymouth, took out the emerging small and medium business category, with the judging panel praising Kina’s strong commitment to all key areas, particularly its clear policies and its thinking with the future in mind.
“Sustainability is built into their whole business,” said the judges. “They are in a wonderful position to lead and influence others by sharing their own achievements and commitment.”
Michelle Locke, SBN’s Waikato office manager, says she is delighted that businesses are incorporating sustainability into their daily lives.
“They are proof that a holistic approach is not only good for the environment, it’s good for the bottom line as well. These companies continually adapt and innovate to grasp the opportunities that exist even in tough economic times.”
Kina is a finalist in the national NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards, to be held in Auckland on November 12.
Kina is a boutique design store, art gallery and on-line shop that is housed in a distinctive Devon St West building that has been everything from a fruit shop to a spacies parlour. Today it houses a business that specialises in supporting New Zealand art and crafts, including holding exhibitions by Taranaki artists.
The business was founded by Fiona Cameron, with local artist Rebecca Mooney as her assistant.
In 2004 she sold Kina to Ms Mooney, who runs it with assistance from communications co-ordinator Rose Walkinshaw, store manager Luella Raj, and her assistant Julianne Lafferty.
Foot traffic in the shop constitutes the bulk of Kina’s business, but on-line shopping is quickly growing in popularity, says Rebecca Mooney.
“We sell all over the world. For example, we’ve just processed an order for the New Zealand Embassy in Paris, and we also receive lots of mail orders from overseas people for friends and relatives in New Zealand.
“But still, our main focus continues to be feet through the door.”
Ms Mooney says Kina has advocated sustainability since the firm was established, but now through SBN it is officially committed to the sustainability principles of recycling, reducing and re-using.
Wherever possible, it:
Reuses, recycles, repairs.
Only uses products and services from like-minded businesses, and where possible buys local.
Actively and financially supports several environmental and social groups within Taranaki.
Supports and promotes New Zealand designers who use either recycled or renewable materials.
Encourages suppliers not to over-invest in unwanted presentation packaging.
Deals directly with suppliers, so there are no middle wholesale people.