Eco-entrepreneurs eager at UKAware

UKAware was a consumer showcase of products and services for a greener lifestyle, at Olympia Fri 17 and Sat 18 May. What most impressed me was the collection of entrepreneurs within their ranks, their enthusiasm knowledge and belief standing out head and shoulders above the ‘paid for’ staff from larger or more established enterprises.

It does show us that even within recession, there is room for invention – and that the passion behind an idea is often the key to success. This was a relatively educated audience, who (like me) were probably full of questions about sourcing, production methods, green credentials, energy performance etc – and the stands with the owners/directors/entrepreneurs were notably attracting more lively conversation than those with the shipped in salespeople (National Trust/Energy stand? You need to rethink your staffing!)

So amongst all the exhibitors I’d like to pull out 3 to watch that impressed me most:

1. – the green comparison website, due to launch July this year, and promising a great comparison site that uses green credentials not just price, policy and performance. I think a great opportunity, particularly with cars (CO2 emissions data), and money (given trust/transparency now big issues for banks).Being run by CEO William, ex-USwitch and clearly experienced, passionate and has built a strong team of technical/web folks to deliver. Lets hope the launch lives up to the promise, bring it on!

2. Littlecherry at – eco-friendly party supplies. Focussing initially on kids parties (oh, the waste!), this small biz offers compostable, recycled or biodegradable plates, bowls, cutlery, decorations, wrap, party bags etc. Many are sourced from social enterprises under fair trade terms, and I particularly liked the fallen palm leaves made into funky textured tableware. An obvious application of this would also be corporate events and parties where eco/green is a theme. I’d certainly use them, a great talkworthy statement and most of it beautiful to boot. Thanks to Lucy for answering all my questions and lets hope her enthusiasm reaps dividends.

3.Tami water filters at – water filters you can fit under your sink on the cold tap, or as a standalone unit. Aimed to replace plastic water bottles, in which case I estimate it would payback in 1-4 years for the consumer, although even replacing a brita filter would only be 6 years to payback, and with no ‘filling’ hassle and less waste. Recommended by the Energy Saving Trust – low energy consumption and mostly recyclable units. I’d like to see more use of recycled materials in construction, but they have at least done a ‘cradle to grave’ LCA analysis so they are on their way. Thanks to Russ for answering all my questions!

So, a great taster of the entrepreneurship that still thrives in the UK – lets hope these businesses and others contribute to the ‘green shoots of recovery’ (yes, pun intended). I, personally, came away inspired at the passion and positive attitude, a lesson to us all in the midst of the doom and gloom.