Sustainability

Barker believes that sustainability is naturally good for business.

I grew up in the countryside. I remember long summers playing tag in the fields with my friends, we built rafts of reeds and spent lazy afternoons drifting down the river. We climbed trees, we dived from the bridge into cold water strewn with weed and we watched the farmer birth calves. I would ride for miles on my push bike to meet with friends and we would camp in pitch black woods. I grew up in nature and as I grow older, I am drawn back more and more to a life surrounded by it. Such is life that I can’t spend long summers playing in fields, although I would love to. I have to earn a living. 30 years ago I chose to take on the family business, it has been a journey of adventure ever since. I have no regrets, but as I get older, I yearn to spend more of my time in nature again. It is probably this aspect of myself that has led me to care about what we, as a business, are doing to harm our natural habitat.

About 5 years ago, I determined that the business would become more environmentally conscious, we would start initiatives to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, we would reduce our use of plastic, we would recycle our hangers and make a greater effort to dispose of our waste more thoughtfully. Since 2018 we have reduced our use of single use plastic by 90%. We have invested in new technology to reduce our use of fuel oil and introduced an LED lighting infrastructure across all Barker branches.

During 2022, all our staff will be asked to contribute their thoughts to our sustainability. Most of our production and efficiency initiatives over the last few years have come from a collaborative approach we have taken with our teams. Where better to understand where we are creating harmful waste and how we can be more sustainable. We hope to start working with local universities on new water recycling technology. If we can clean all our wastewater and return it to drinking quality, we can become the first laundry ever to operate without the need for a continuous clean water supply. We can then harvest our rainwater for increased capacity. I would love to progress to hydrogen power rather than our current reliance on fossil fuels, but my time will run out and I will have to leave it to the next generation. At least we will have begun a culture of sustainability in our business. And it is good business, despite initial investment, all our initiatives to date are, or will be, paying back financially over time. In the next five years, we will massively reduce our use of oil, almost eradicate our use of single use plastic and work on generating our own electricity. We are about to start planting small trees around our car park and around the staff canteen; it won’t offset the carbon we emit but it will make for a more pleasant environment. I cannot wait to see what my teams come up with and look forward to sharing new initiatives with you as we move forward.

Of course, you are our most important critic, and I would love to hear from you with any ideas or knowledge that will help us to be better in every way. Please write to me at matt@barkergroup.info

As ever, thank you.