Getting a buzz out of going green
Published 7 Jul 2017
The Midcounties Co-operative has been awarded Leading Co-op of the Year for the third time completing a hat-trick. The vote was organised by Co-ops UK, the body representing all co-ops and was announced at Co-op Congress in June. The award announcement also coincided with the start of Co-operative Fortnight which ran from 23 June to 7 July.
Ben Reid, Group Chief Executive Officer of Midcounties, said, “As a member owned Society this award is particularly important to us because it was voted for by our members. We have been previously voted Co-operative of the Year twice in 2012 and 2015, so I want to say a particularly big thank to everyone who helped us achieve the triple in 2018.”
The Leading Co-op of the Year award reflects the Society’s ongoing commitment to its members, colleagues and the communities it serves throughout its trading area. The Society’s impact in the communities in which it trades has also led to it being awarded the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise: Sustainable Development and, for the second year in a row, a 5 star accreditation by Business in the Community in their Corporate Responsibility Index.
The Travel Foundation has helped two rural Mayan enterprises access the tourism market while remaining in their community: Pithahí Jungle jams, a group making jam from local fruit, and Much Kaab, the Los Juárez beekeepers’ co-operative 60km from Cancún, making honey-based products such as shampoo, soap, creams and lip balm.
The Travel Foundation provided the two groups with training to run eco-friendly businesses and forged links with large hotels, encouraging them to change their policies and buy local products to showcase authentic culture.
Beekeepers were also taught about conserving the Melipona beecheii bee, a unique stingless bee that is in danger of becoming extinct because of pesticides and the destruction of their rainforest habitat. Fortunately, bee numbers have doubled since the project launch three years ago.
Araceli says: ‘This project is very important to me. It has given me the opportunity to develop, as a woman and within my community, and provided me with an income to help educate my daughters.’ The project – and others like it in communities near and far – is partly fuelled by Co-op Energy customers on the Green Pioneer tariff. Midcounties will be donating more than £20,000 to the foundation this year, based on the number of Green Pioneer customers. As well as helping people like Araceli and her beekeeping colleagues, the Green Pioneer tariff decreases the reliance on fossil fuels, reducing the impact on the environment, and provides 100 per cent green electricity to power homes.
Co-op Energy no longer buys electricity from coal-fired powered stations, and customers can choose where the company sources some of its solar-, wind- and hydro-produced electricity. Switching is easy and takes just a few minutes, and a simple online tick-box form allows customers to see how much they could save. Each year a report is sent to all customers on the tariff showing exactly how it contributes to the wider Co-op Energy activity, plus other green community grants such as solar panels on schools.
The Midcounties Co-operative, which Co-op Energy is part of, is also participating in a Carbon Offset scheme to reduce the carbon emissions produced by the travel industry. Graeme Jackson, Head of Partnerships at the Travel Foundation, says: ‘This is a very exciting partnership with Midcounties. We will use funds to help understand the impact of tourism and how it can be better for people and the planet.’