Going green at Nixon & Shaw

Going green at Nixon & Shaw

Sustainability has always been in the background for Nixon & Shaw. Practice owner Rachel Bull has always had a keen interest in reducing environmental impact and recycling. When Ben Owen FBDO Dip SV joined the practice as General Manager he was keen to take this further. He says, “We had a chat about how we could put sustainability at the centre of the practice. People often don’t think about the environmental impact of things we use every day like spectacles and lenses, and we wanted to change that.”

Envorinmentally friendly cleaning

The practice was already collecting used spectacles for redistribution, and Ben says, “The next thing we did was to set up a contact lens recycling scheme with Terracycle. We informed patients and raised awareness of the glasses scheme too. We used to collect glasses for Vision Aid Overseas. We now have a local link and the spectacles are sent to South Africa and used there.” He adds, “Increasing sustainability in the practice has been an exciting journey of discovery for me and the patients. When you get a passion for something the patient or customer buys into that. Patients are now coming into the practice asking, ‘Is that recycled? Is that sustainable?’ and some people make their purchasing decisions on that basis.”

Recycled window display

Nixon & Shaw is based in three towns in the south west of England, and their environmental initiatives have started in the Bradford on Avon branches. Ben says, “We are up to 30 per cent of frame stock made from recycled materials, which has gone from five per cent and is ever growing. It was Sea2See frames which really started the ball rolling. We had a small section, and now sustainable frames have taken over the whole wall. The town is eco-minded, there is a sustainable supermarket called Christine’s which always has queues for refills. It is a good town for us to test the water on promoting sustainable frames. In our practice in Melksham there is less of a recycling ethos but the DOs have got on board and the frames are still popular there.” Ben adds, “I got some frames in the other week made from recycled bottle caps which is exciting. It is a niche which we can build our reputation for.”

Ben discusses sustainability with reps when they come in. He says, “We have conversations with suppliers. Some are very receptive, Stepper for example gives us an update every time we see them, and it’s great to see their cardboard packaging is come through now. Henry Beaumont have helped us with a window display and an eco open day pre-Covid. Some manufacturers get back to us when they have a new sustainable range come out. This happened with Eco Conscious from Eyespace. Others are less interested. I know that we won’t change the industry overnight, but the more people who ask about sustainability the better.”

One of Ben’s less glamorous tasks is to look at energy supplies when the contract comes up. He says, “I use this as a chance to look at green tariffs and quiz energy suppliers. We have found Eon for business use a green tariff energy so you now can easily get your energy supplied and its not more expensive.”

Another area where Nixon & Shaw is making a difference is in the spectacle cleaning kit they supply with every collection. Ben says, “Now every component is recycled or can be recycled – the bag, the spray, the cleaning cloth are all made from recycled materials.” Picking the right materials is key to the Nixon & Shaw approach, whether they are selecting frames made from recycled products, or choosing packaging that can be recycled. Ben says, “Plastic is not a bad material if you use it responsibility. We need to get away from a throwaway culture.” Nixon & Shaw is spreading the word about sustainability in optics too. Ben says, “The local news heard about what we are doing, they are really into sustainability, so I have written a couple of pieces to share with the town. I use social media quite a bit to share what we’re doing too.”

And while the Bradford on Avon practice is leading the way, Nixon & Shaw’s other practices are also getting up to speed on sustainability. Ben says, “We are also involved with a green initiative in Devizes supporting the whole sustainable concept, a shop eco group. The community is looking for sustainable products, and we will be rolling out the range of sustainable eyewear there too.”

Looking to the future, Ben says, “Every person should be talking to their reps about sustainability. The more people who do it, the quicker the change will happen.”