We are delighted to be the first veterinary practice to have been awarded the Environmental Sustainability Award by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons - achieved as Outstanding at both Dalston and Newbiggin
At Paragon we are committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 (by at least scope 1 and 2) and 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; to become sustainable businesses.
‘Enough for all, forever’ encompasses our understanding of what sustainability means and is the guiding principle that we work to on our project to becoming sustainable.
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.
So, in short we are going green, without any of the green washing.
Sustainability is important to us and we welcome your feedback and suggestions regarding Paragon’s sustainability plan, please email us on [email protected] to share your thoughts.
15 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 all things sustainable.
"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:
We have performed 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, conferences and 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 impact.
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 installing 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.
We are pleased to report that our website emits less than 1g of CO2e per page view, this is considered 'low' impact and is below the average emissions for a company's website
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 liaise with our local councils to ensure we are recycling properly.
We use companies such as Biffa 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.
We have recently partnered with Dalston Pharmacy to launch a new recycling scheme for blister packs - these are used for both human and animal medicines and are particularly difficult to recycle
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.
Our small animal vets and nurses have retrained 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 use local anaesthetic where appropriate to reduce the need for this gas even further. We have an oxygen generator that reduces the carbon released from deliveries.
We are always 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. We offer a range of eco-friendly toys and bedding, shampoos and toothbrushes etc in our reception areas.
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 frequently test 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. Similar considerations are being made in our small animal department.
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 to us that we encourage biodiversity and allow all flora and fauna to thrive. We’ve installed bee and insect ‘hotels’, bird feeders, bat boxes, robin hides, 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). Most recently we have created a bog garden and a pond. The children from the local primary school helped us dig in the plants. Our garden at Dalston won two RHS Cumbria in Bloom awards in 2022 for biodiversity and enhancing our local environment.
We are well underway to create a woodland and wildflower meadows 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.
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!
Tarn Vets and Paragon have joined forces and are collaborating on the sustainability project.
We are in regular communication with Vet Sustain, the XLvets community, local MPs and schools regarding our project and how they can become involved. Our green group members sit on Greener Veterinary Practice working groups. We are in a privileged position to be able to speak to our veterinary colleagues, clients and land owners regarding responsible pet ownership and land use.
Since starting the project our colleagues and clients have made many suggestions on what we can be doing to be more environmentally friendly.
We strongly believe in protecting our environment and we are continually looking at ways in which our practice can be as environmentally sustainable as possible.
Disposal of any unused flea & worm treatments or medicines via wastewater e.g. down the sink, toilet or drain can contribute to environmental contamination as they could be dangerous to fish and other aquatic organisms. Traces of animal medicines have been detected within rivers throughout the UK.
We are often asked by clients how best to dispose of unused/out of date medications and used medication packaging. Therefore we are encouraging clients to return these to the practice to be disposed of correctly. We have recently partnered up with Dalston Pharmacy to recycle blister packs for both animal and human medicine, there are recycling bins situated in our reception areas.