Sustainability

Passionate about our Planet

At Paragon we are committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 but are hopeful we will achieve this sooner. We have made our commitment to the SME Climate Hub and have joined the ‘Race to Zero’, where like-minded businesses are united with a common goal - ‘Enough for all, forever’. This encompasses our understanding of sustainability and is a mantra that we remind ourselves of as we work on our project to becoming a sustainable business.

Paragon feels sustainability is no longer a ‘nice to do’ project but something we feel we ‘must’ do as citizens and consumers on this planet and the climate crisis we are all facing.  

We are going green, without any green washing.

Green Group

13 like-minded individuals have formed a Green Group at Paragon, led by Sustainability Champion and small animal vet Laura Binnie. We are a diverse group of professionals bringing a range of skill sets to the group and united by an enthusiasm and passion for Sustainability.

"I am delighted that Paragon has formed a Green Group to continue developing and working towards our sustainability goals, as individuals, as a practice and as advocates" David Black, Managing Director

 "As Sustainability Champion I am excited about the changes we can make together as a Group and enthused by all the great ideas that have been suggested already" Laura Binnie

Click here to see the current members of our Green Group

For more information about sustainability in the veterinary profession we've found the following websites to be very useful: 

Vet Sustain
VetSalus
Golowcarbon
BVA

Energy Usage

We are in the process of carrying out a carbon audit at our two main branches (Dalston and Newbiggin), the results of which we will use as a benchmark as we progress and implement more of our sustainability plan.

We are actively reducing travel for meetings and conferences, training etc. Along with replacing our vehicles with electric or hybrids for necessary travel, we believe that by reducing our emissions in this area we can greatly reduce our overall carbon footprint.

An easy win for us was switching to a renewable energy supplier for our electricity, installing a wood chip boiler at Newbiggin and renewing an old inefficient boiler with a new gas boiler that uses green gas instead of LPG at Dalston.

We are hoping to install photovoltaic panels and we are replacing all spent lightbulbs with LED ones and have installed sensors to switch them off when no one is about.

Reducing, Reusing and Recycling

Similar to our carbon audit we have performed a waste audit, ensuring we commit as little as possible to landfill or clinical waste and leaving what’s left to be recycled.

Reducing our reliance on single use plastics is a big challenge, we have investigated many ways of reducing our use and how best to recycle them when we have to use them, often they require specialist recycling. We are liaising with our local councils to ensure we are recycling properly so to reduce the amount that gets condemned.

We use companies such as Terracycle to recycle our pet food packaging and other household waste packaging. We compost everything we can which in turn gets used in our gardens at both sites (which grows the plants and flowers the bees and other pollinating insects will love). We even switched to using PG tips tea bags and Grind coffee pods because they are fully compostable, and this gets the thumbs up from the tea and coffee drinkers among us.

Reducing our impact through our clinical work

In our small animal department we use reusable cotton theatre gowns and hats and wear crocs instead of needing shoe covers. All of these are washable with environmentally friendly detergents. The vets are encouraged to use a waterless scrubbing technique instead of using up to 20L of water each time they prepare for surgery.

We are considering training our vets and nurses to become comfortable using low gas flow general anaesthetic techniques, this uses far less oxygen and anaesthetic gas, isoflurane, which has a fairly hefty carbon footprint and is just as safe but is more eco-friendly.

We are asking our wholesalers for more eco-friendly alternatives, we have developed an excellent medication stocking system meaning much less is wasted. Even our uniforms are being replaced with sustainable alternatives.

Our farm team are having conversations regularly with our farmers and landowners regarding regenerative agriculture and are able to advise them on best practice.

Our equine vets and technicians are constantly testing faecal samples to ensure horses are not being wormed inappropriately. Worming treatment is excreted into the environment which can be harmful to the natural flora and fauna. Considerations are being made regarding testing small animals prior to dispensing flea and worming treatments, watch this space.

Well-being gardens and local biodiversity

We care about our colleagues at Paragon and looking after their well-being is important to us.

We have dedicated an area at each branch to develop into a well-being garden, somewhere the staff can go for a break and spend some time in nature. Our aim for these gardens is to keep it sustainable, our colleagues have brought seeds and plants from their own gardens to add to the eclectic mix of plants. We have reinstated the old orchard at Newbiggin and converted this into a well-being garden for our staff to enjoy.

We intend to keep areas of these gardens wild to encourage wildlife to move in. It’s vitally important we encourage biodiversity and allow all flora and fauna to thrive. We’ve installed bee and insect ‘hotels’, bird feeders and left the grass long so hedgehogs can snuffle around. We've also planted many plants that pollinating insects love. Paragon has proudly joined the bee friendly practice scheme (britishbeevets.com)

Our plan for later this year is to plant a variety of trees to create a woodland and reinstate hedgerows at our Newbiggin site, for biodiversity and wildlife but to lock in carbon in the trees, this will help us get over the finishing line and offset the carbon we can’t reduce any further. 

Keeping it local...

Another easy win for us was moving away from buying milk in plastic bottles to having it delivered to the practices in glass reusable bottles (zero plastic win!).

A great idea that one of the green group members had has proven very successful - to provide a list of locally sourced produce for our colleagues to benefit from and to add to. It started as a list of food producers and has evolved over time and now includes things like plastic free shampoo bars! We continue to encourage and welcome suggestions, from staff and clients alike!

...and collaborating

Tarn Vets and Paragon have joined forces and are collaborating on the sustainability project.

We are in communication with our local MPs and schools regarding our project and how they can become involved. We are in a privileged position to be able to speak to our clients and land owners regarding responsible pet ownership and land use.

Since starting the project our colleagues have made many suggestions on what we can be doing to be more environmentally friendly.

Our local animal charity (Oak Tree Animals' Charity) has expressed an interest in hearing about our project and we are sharing our ideas with them