Can't afford to save the planet?

By Greg Pilley, managing director, Stroud Brewery

- Last updated on GMT

Community payback: Stroud Brewery boss Greg Pilley says local sourcing for staff and suppliers has reciprocal result
Community payback: Stroud Brewery boss Greg Pilley says local sourcing for staff and suppliers has reciprocal result

Related tags Stroud Brewery Sustainability Social responsibility Finance

How often do you find yourself having to balance your values against cost?

Re-usable crockery or easy-to-manage disposable plates and cutlery for that large booking? Cheaper toilet rolls or those made from sustainable paper whose sales support third world projects? Chemically grown, cheaper vegetables or local and organic?

There are so many challenges currently facing the hospitality sector – the cost-of-living crisis, hikes in energy prices, future business rates increases are a few examples – that being greener seems like a remote dream.

We’ve grappled with this question since our early days (and still do) yet those green choices have fuelled our business success, they have defined us and even brought us support during the pandemic when we were teetering at the edge of a financial cliff. 

Sticking to our values

Being named the Best Sustainable Pub in the recent Great British Pub Awards​ was a fantastic endorsement of our commitment. It’s exciting to see hospitality enthusiastically embracing its responsibility towards the planet to the point when there’s a dedicated category in the awards, with many pubs vying for the title.

When we began trading, brewing organic beer with barley from local farms, embedding sustainability into a business was virtually unknown. Through being determined and sticking to our values, we’ve discovered benefits that have spread beyond what we originally imagined: not only reducing many costs, but making the brewery a hub of our community and fostering loyalty in our customers through enabling them to have a good time, eating and drinking high-quality products and doing good at the same time. 

It’s true people are going out less because of the cost-of-living situation but when they do, they’re more discerning about where and on what they spend their money. Numerous market research reports demonstrate how consumers prefer to buy from businesses they can see are reducing their environmental impact, and on food and drink that is not only contributing towards tackling climate change but also supporting their local producers and farmers. 

Thinking sustainably allows a business to shift its attention towards its immediate world to concentrate on its local bubble and, by doing so, build a support network that mirrors that old saying ‘What goes round, comes round’. We employ local people, 70% of our suppliers are local, and at least 70% of the beer we sell is consumed within 50 miles of the brewery. We ‘think global and act local’.

Community supports brewery

Including sustainability in our decision-making results in our money flowing into the local economy. This isn’t always the cheapest option but we view it as an investment and can see how much of it returns to us in trade. Just as importantly for us, it also helps build a thriving community that in turn supports the brewery. 

This was perfectly demonstrated during the pandemic. Like most hospitality businesses, we had to close and the devastating drop in income meant we stared closure in the face. Our local community was our knight in shining armour and raised more than £114,000 in a crowdfunding appeal to keep us afloat. This is how much they value us as part of their community, stemming from our sustainability commitments and the effort we put into supporting what’s important to them. 

To see a change in the world, the most powerful thing we can do as individuals is to spend our money on the businesses that are doing things differently.

So, that is why we put our values and community at our core, rebuild our human connections, reduce environmental impact and future-proof our businesses – a win-win all round!


Related topics Sustainability

Related news

Show more