Building a better food system is good for business

seedlings

William Pullan is an Associate in Osborne Clarke’s Construction, Planning and Environment team. In this blog, he explains why law firm Osborne Clarke are so pleased to be involved in Bristol Bites Back Better and why it’s worth all businesses joining the campaign for good food.

Osborne Clarke is an international law firm with offices across the globe, but Bristol is our spiritual home and we were established here in 1748. As a business, we are deeply committed to sustainability and are proud to support Bristol’s bid to become a Gold Sustainable Food City.

Good for business

We recognise that everyone needs to play their part in creating a fairer, greener and healthier food system. In our Bristol office we have over 600 employees and a large office space with an internal caterer – our food waste alone could have a massive carbon footprint. However, because sustainability is so important to us we are committed to doing things differently and using our power and influence to help our community, colleagues and environment.

business catering

Before COVID-19 hit we were working closely with our catering provider Gather and Gather to enable everyone at Osborne Clarke to have access to healthy locally sourced food at a minimal cost to the environment. Their ‘mindful buying’ policy helped ensure that 67% of our weekly consumption came from within 42 miles of our office and included seasonal, Fairtrade products and UK-based meat and dairy products. We also worked hard to reduce our food waste by carefully tracking whether food is left over after meetings and then adjusting how much is served in the future.

We have a very active Sustainable Business Group who seek to embed our sustainability values throughout everything we do. The group has a direct link with our Executive Board so we have buy-in from the very top and an understanding that there are business benefits and opportunities from acting responsibly and focussing on sustainability.

Supporting the health and wellbeing of employees

Osborne Clarke’s Temple Quay office has an allotment and wildlife meadow. Before COVID-19 a dedicated team of volunteers enjoyed tending to the allotment and producing seasonable vegetables for use in our kitchens. We are also looking at how we can incorporate green spaces when we move to our new Halo office at Finzel’s Reach which, when construction has finished, will be one of the most environmentally friendly offices in the UK.

Of course, this past year everyone has been working from home and many of us have struggled with our health and wellbeing at times. As an organisation we have been encouraging our employees to stay healthy by eating well, exercising and making sure to get time away from the desk.

Watering vegetables

We are keen on volunteering as a way to support community action on food as well as improve the wellbeing and satisfaction of colleagues. Pre COVID-19 we held team building days at locations such as St Werburghs City Farm and Fareshare South West. We are really looking forward to when we can get our hands dirty again and head over to projects like Grow Wilder for team-building volunteering days.

Using our professional skills to support the good food movement

As a large organisation we recognise that we have a responsibility to the city we call home. We’ve supported a number of charities in the community who help improve Bristol’s food movement.

In 2019 we raised funds for Fareshare through a ready, steady, cook competition, a sponsored run, our carol service donations and a banquet at Yurt Lush. FareShare do fantastic work taking in-date surplus food and redistributing it to vulnerable members of our community and they have really stepped up to the challenges faced during this period. We have been able to help them extend their reach by using our legal expertise to provide pro-bono advice with contracts and on their property portfolio, as well as making a financial donation from our charitable fund.

We have also been providing Avon Wildlife Trust with legal and business advice on their current and upcoming projects and sponsored one of their sites as part of their My Wild City project.

Looking ahead

Taking part in Bristol’s bid to become a Gold Sustainable Food City has been a really positive experience for Osborne Clarke. It has encouraged us to continue focusing on improving both our internal and external food systems. It is also rewarding knowing that we are contributing to sustainability for Bristol and our community.

As we head out of the pandemic we are making sure that we continue the good practices towards food sustainability that we adopted prior to COVID-19 and embed them across the organisation.

We would encourage other Bristol-based organisations, no matter the size, to get involved. It helps change how our city treats food and allows you as an organisation to enjoy the benefits of a healthier and more sustainable working environment.

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