Guardian awards

Zipcar was proud to be shortlisted for The Guardian’s Sustainable Business Awards. Amy Wong, Zipcar’s Fleet Operations Supervisor, attended the ceremony, and tells me all about it.

Amy Wong“Last Thursday, I took a break from my deadly-serious, no-frills operations role for one single sparkly evening to experience the cocktails & canapés lifestyle of Marketing and PR (what, that’s not what you guys do every night?). I attended the Guardian Sustainable Business Awards, now in their 3rd year. The awards recognise innovation and impact in sustainable businesses large and small.  We were super excited to have made the shortlist for the Society Award, for leading the way in car sharing for urban residents.

No, sadly we didn’t win our category, but as it’s the taking part that counts, we were pleased to cheer on the winners Olam International and Shared Interest Society, amazing organisations supporting smallholders and farmers in developing countries to secure livelihoods for their families and communities in environmentally sustainable ways. Fair play.

I’ll admit to being slightly carried away by the inspirational atmosphere of all these fabulous eco-preneurs in one room, especially after several (responsibly-sourced) pink cocktails. However, after being sagely cautioned by GM Mark Walker to ‘beware the greenwash’, I swapped cocktails for (tap) water and stepped back to scrutinise the awards with a more discerning eye. And I saw three distinct shades of green.
Firstly, there’s the pale green lifestyle products and eco-gadgets. Companies that are cleaning up supply chains, providing ethical alternatives, and supporting fair trade.  All great if it’s providing a real alternative to a less-sustainable necessity, but does it really address our addiction to needless consumption?  Face it, anything that looks pretty, labelled with one or more of the buzzwords ‘ethical’,‘ sustainable’, or ‘fair-trade’ is going to fly off the shelves before anyone really challenges themselves with the ‘need or want?’ question.

I’d argue that consuming less stuff - not just different stuff - is a shade better. Reducing consumption of resources, owning fewer things, sharing the things we need, but don’t need all the time. Like Zipcar, by taking cars off the road, or KeepCup, making inroads into the 500 billion disposable cups manufactured worldwide every year.

One step further - and really dark green - is eliminating the unseen wastage of resources before we’ve even got to the to-consume-or-not-to-consume question. This is why, for me, the real winner of the night was water company Teccura. They analyse water consumption in large commercial properties, tracking complex interrelated water utilisation data to identify and stop leaks.

Water wastage is a tough sell. It’s not fronted by cute woodland animals, or tied up with an organic hemp bow, but Teccura is addressing the very real prospect of our demand for fresh water outstripping supply in the next decade. With over 1.5 million commercial properties in the UK alone, the potential impact of their work is mind-blowing. Well-deserved winners!

Oops… I went off on a rant and now there’s no time to talk about the amazing MSC-certified sushi from Moshi Moshi. Ask Mark Walker. He ate most of it.”



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