A better environment for shoppers

"IT'S WHAT shops will be like in the future," said Jim McCallum of the green charity Environ at the opening last weekend of The Ark, their new retail centre in Leicester.

Many of the raw materials used in the construction of The Ark have a long history. The flooring was previously that of a local mill and was rescued from a landfill site. The heavy wooden doors are from another factory. And wooden panelling around the building comes from old shop counters.

Amazingly, paying local craftsmen to hand-make shop fittings from old wood comes to less than half the cost of buying them new from specialists.

This saves money, loses nothing in quality or appearance, is environmentally friendly, and creates jobs. It is a microcosm of the benefits of being green - which is the whole point of the shop.

Simplicity of design has been a priority, to avoid wastage. Shelving, the shop counter and window displays are manufactured from Tectan, which is a relatively new product created from recycled cartons, with much the same strength and application as chipboard.

Energy conservation is good, through low-energy lighting as well as underfloor heating.

The shop is selling a wide range of environmentally friendly products, from bleach-free T-shirts made from off-cuts to low-energy light bulbs; from jewellery made from reclaimed materials to buttons made out of shells.

Each product is environmentally audited, and tagged with information about how it is made and where the raw materials come from. The shop will act as an agent for Bio-Baby, a cleaning service for re-usable cotton nappies.

Profits from the shop will go as a subsidy towards information provision, which runs alongside the retailing. There are two touch-screen computers, using video and animation, advising users on how to be more environmentally friendly, with a databank on 300 subjects.

An environmental clock produces up-to-date readings on such issues as air quality.

The Ark's manager, Vicki Moore, said that the shop is aimed not at the environmental enthusiast, but at people out shopping who have little idea about how to be green. "We are hoping to get an environmental message across to the people of Leicester without being hard hitting to put them off," she said. " We have subliminal messages all around." To make the centre welcoming, there is a children's play area downstairs, and a wholefood restaurant above. There is also a nine-screen video wall, playing a World Wide Fund for Nature video.

Many of the products sold are produced locally. Ian Roberts, director of Environ, believes that promoting local trading is as important for the shop as other, more obvious, green principles. Buying locally can substantially reduce transport costs and energy usage.

As part of its promotion of local trading, the charity is looking at ways of supporting Leicester's Local Exchange Trading System (Lets), the barter system that is often called "green money", which helps those who are unemployed to move back into the workplace.

The cafe is considering paying staff an additional wage in local Lets currency, and may accept Lets currencies as part payment for goods sold. "We are as interested in job creation as we are in environmentalism," Mr Roberts added.

Environ says that The Ark is the most advanced environmentally integrated retailing centre in Britain. But, environmentally speaking, the future draws heavily on the past.

Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
tvReview: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
Review: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
football Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
VIDEO
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes looks on during his side's defeat to Everton
footballBaines and Mirallas score against United as Everton keep alive hopes of a top-four finish
Sport
Tour de France 2014Sir Rodney Walker on organising the UK stages of this year’s race
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Brown Findlay as Mary Yellan in ‘Jamaica Inn’
TVJessica Brown Findlay on playing the spirited heroine of Jamaica Inn
News
YouTube clocks up more than a billion users a month
mediaEuropean rival Dailymotion certainly thinks so
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents
Arts & Entertainment
‘Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ’ (c943-57) by St Dunstan
books How British artists perfected the art of the self-portrait
News
People
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLE
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Database Team Lead ( Leadership, Sybase, Computer Science)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Database Team Lead ( Leadership, Sybase, Compute...

C#.NET Delphi SQL Developer (C#,DELPHI,SQL)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET D...

VB.NET SQL Junior-Mid Level Developer (VB.NET,SQL,Excellent com

£25000 - £35000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET S...

Trade Support, Application Support, Operations Analyst, CRM MS

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Harrington Starr: Trade Suppor...

Day In a Page

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

The man who could have been champion of the world

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
Didn’t she do well?

Didn’t she do well?

Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
Before they were famous

Before they were famous

Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is genius

Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is a stroke of genius

Series is brimming with characters and stories all its own
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players