Offices are becoming increasingly more environmentally friendly to fit in with new Government legislation coming in to force next year and to fulfil CSR objectives.

A lovely eco office
A lovely eco office

At Hello Eco Living we’re always looking for people who stand out head and shoulders above the rest and we believe we’ve found one of the businesses leading the stakes in the eco office revolution…

Lucas Hickman Smith Architects is situated in the historic market town of Wymondham in Norfolk. They have been in their current eco office since June 2006.

Before moving in, the restored building was given a lot of thought to enable eco friendly credentials. Many corporations want to be seen to be socially responsible but for directors Paul Lucas and Terry Hickman Smith, protecting the environment is a concern close to their hearts.

The offices were painted with organic paints with natural pigments to banish pollution and fumes which are given off standard paints. The carpet is woven from jute; hardwearing, easy on the eye and above all, in harmony with nature.

Recycling is a prominent theme; the office furniture is reclaimed and recycled, complementing the character of the building. All staff engage in the recycling process by reusing as much as possible. There is a wormery outside where employees contribute to the compost with their biodegradable waste.

Energy is used on a need-only basis. The large windows allow a lot of natural light to flood the open plan office but when the evenings draw in, the office is illuminated by compact fluorescents which are more planet friendly than standard lights.

Each year Lucas Hickman Smith chooses an eco charity to support. Managers and staff bring in home grown fruit and organic eggs laid by their own chickens so there is always something tasty and healthy to snack on.

The office is cleaned using Ecover cleaning products which do not emit fumes like most industrial products do.

The office located near to shops and other business and is on a public transport network, with the intention for clients to think eco.

The company abides by a strict Environmental policy which ensures that all the work they carry out is sustainable and socially responsible. Green architecture is their field of expertise making sure all of their designs are as environmentally friendly as possible.

The office is an eco haven and it has been created with the planet in mind and the wellbeing of the staff. Lucas Hickman Smith is a happy, creative place where their work ensures the very best for the future.

If the idea of creating the ultimate green wardrobe appeals to you then you are going to be impressed with this brand new Hello Eco Living Column.

Be ethical and sexy
Be ethical and sexy

As a director of Swop2Shop.co.uk, I will be searching the world of ethical shopping to bring you researched and informed features to help you make ethical decisions when making your purchases.

Firstly, a bit about Swop2Shop. The site is an innovative, clothes swopping website which allows its members to replenish and re-vamp their wardrobes, without the need for cash.  It provides a platform for members to swop their clothes and accessories, between each other, in a safe and trustworthy environment, and entitles the user to no listing fees and free points to kick start the swopping process.

The whole ethos behind this site is unique, as the use of points not pounds enables a constant swapping of unwanted clothes to take place.

Listing your kids outgrown clothes and accumulating points enables the complete renewal of your own wardrobe, which can’t be bad considering the current economic climate.

Most of us make a conscious effort to re-cycle many other items in our homes so lets do the same with our clothes.  Keeping them out of the landfill sites has got to be a sound idea, so too is supporting charity which we intend to do with a percentage of its gift voucher sales.

The site has many, exciting, up and coming new features that we have no doubt will be of interest to everyone.  It’s time we all started taking a fresh look at being fashionable, frugal, but fundamentally kind to the environment and with the help of Swop2Shop that goal is a little bit nearer.

Our eco reviewer this month is Claire Turnbull…

I tested the Beyond Organic Skin care range:

Beyond organic skin care
Beyond organic skin care

Moisturising day cream – this really was a delight on your skin, it made my skin feel soft and velvet.  It also helped reduce the appearance of fine lines.

Rescue salve – this really does what it says on the tin, it is perfect to apply to any blemishes, showing an instant improvement

Rejuvenating serum – Again, another treat, felt luscious on application and made me look positively radiant

Night cream –  this was delighful on the skin, my skin felt totally rehydrated and my skin was positively glowing, its non greasy and felt luscious on application

Although this skin care range is quite expensive, I believe it to be worth every penny as you cant put a price on your skin looking and feeling good.  It smells lovely and I seen an instant improvement in the appearance of my skin – I just need to go and buy the range now!

The garden of the white house is organic and following closely behind is Gordon Brown’s patch. Recommendations from the Soil Association have encouraged Number 10 to introduce the natural approach to gardening.

Organic gardening promotes a healthy benefit for bees
Organic gardening promotes a healthy benefit for bees

Sarah Brown’s recent changes have been praised by the soil association-both Organic food production and bee friendly flowers have been added to Number 10.  Since this turn around there is even speculation of renaming the infamous “Britain in Bloom” to “Britain in natural bloom” with the hope of reducing harmful pesticides, especially neonicotinoids, from effecting the counties bee population.  This would also present the flower growers with a new challenge – many consider spraying pesticides and steroid like fertilizers to be a short cut in the art of flower growing.

Benefit now by going organic

1)  Your health and wellbeing- Organic food is much more nutrient dense, it contains significantly more beneficial minerals, essential amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants. Organic milk for example is 68% higher in omega 3 essential fatty acids.

2)  Animal Welfare – Most people don’t know that by being organic it is automatically free range! Organic standards are vigorous regarding their regulation of the way animals are reared fed and slaughtered – animals are given plenty outdoor space so they can behave as naturally as possible. Organic standards prevent cruelty and stop animally being constantly drugged with antibiotics.

3)  Wildlife Flourishes – Organic farms have up to 50 percent more wildlife than their non organic counterparts- meaning that birds, insects and plants can coexist in farms. In fact they are actively encouraged, hedgehogs love to eat slugs, and worms and insects help to aerate the soil.

4)  GM Free – Genetically modified crops are not permitted on Organic farms. Furthermore, GM ingredients and animal feed are not permitted – currently over one million tonnes of GM animal feed is imported every year to feed non Organic animals.

5)Cost savings – Well, like most people you may think that Organic food is vastly more expensive than non organic, however the reality is not quite so true. Yes a pint of Organic milk may cost around 25% more, but you can get much more than 25% more nutritional value, meaning that the nutrition you get per pence can actually be higher with Organic food.