Support Donegal Businesses to be Sustainable

Image of person who wrote blog. Supporting Donegal businesses to be more sustainable is an important aspect of our Enterprise Engagement work. We provide this support through a specially developed Environmental Sustainability in the Workplace course. But what does this involve?  One company that completed this course with us last year was award-winning Donegal Bees (Donegal Local Enterprise Office 2022 Enterprise Green Award). In this blog, Donegal Bees Co-owner and Director Áine Curran, tells us about how this course supported them on their sustainability journey.

We, at Donegal Bees, are proud to share the positive impact of our team member’s participation in the ‘Environmental Sustainability in the Workplace’ course with Donegal Education and Training Board (ETB). This undertaking not only enhanced our commitment to corporate responsibility but also brought about substantial benefits to both our business and our staff.

Image of Donegal Bees Co-Owners standing side by side.
Thomas Ellis and Áine Curran are the co-owners and directors of Donegal Bees based at Cashel, Glencolmcille, Co. Donegal.

In today’s conscientious marketplace, consumers align themselves with companies that reflect their values. Our commitment to environmental sustainability not only serves as a beacon for eco-conscious customers but also gives us a distinct advantage over competitors.

Prior to the course, we were already on a path to sustainability, recycling cardboard for packaging and utilising recycled materials in our products. Last year, all 10,000 of our orders used recycled materials in some capacity. Moreover, we are the only company in Ireland with a Wax Machine, which allows us to upcycle unwanted beeswax from beekeepers across the country and create fresh beeswax foundation sheets, which beekeepers can use for the next beekeeping season, contributing to a circular economy.

A crucial aspect of our sustainability journey involves active community involvement. Initiatives such as planting pollinator-friendly flowers, educational posts on social media, and promotional campaigns around World Bee Day have become vital components of our business objectives. Sharing information and emphasising the important role pollinators have in this world with our customers is a critical objective of Donegal Bees.

When the opportunity to enrol in the sustainability course arose, we encouraged our team member to seize it. This decision has since greatly benefitted the company through our team member’s new ideas and initiatives.

Post-course completion, we recognised the need for a dedicated Sustainability Representative within our team. Our team member’s role was officially updated to include this responsibility, complete with new goals and accountabilities. Monthly Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound (S.M.A.R.T.) goals, coupled with weekly meetings to track their progress, ensure that no aspect of our sustainability efforts is overlooked.

The impact is tangible, with practical changes such as a revamped waste system in our canteen, the replacement of plastic cutlery with reusable alternatives, and the installation of LED light bulbs. A notable suggestion from our Sustainability Representative was to prioritise using double-sided printing, particularly in relation to our aforementioned 10,000 orders, to cut down on paper waste and ink usage. These seemingly small steps, when combined, contribute significantly to our broader sustainability objectives.

In conclusion, our journey towards environmental sustainability isn’t just about meeting market expectations – it’s about fostering positive change within our community and empowering our staff to be champions of sustainability. We’re not just creating products; we’re crafting a future we can all be proud of.

Donegal Bees logo

Our next Special Purpose Level 5 Environmental Sustainability in the Workplace course starts in mid-February (one evening per week for three hours over ten weeks) – it covers:

  1. climate change, other environmental pressures and global initiatives
  2. energy management
  3. sustainable food and food waste prevention
  4. circular economy
  5. environmental management and green awareness for employees
  6. greening communities and greening your lifestyle

 Businesses can apply here or email