We are very pleased to announce that we are working with ZEG Ltd, a gardening company dedicated to zero emissions gardening, with the first call of business being the maintenance of the grounds of our own studio. ZEG’s mission to maintain the grounds of their clients without impacting on the environment is not only admirable, but essential for the future health of our planet. As fellow sustainability-enthusiasts, we thought it would be nice for Sophie to sit down with our partner and uncover a little bit about what they did with founder, Thomas Law.
Can you describe what the business does for those who may not know you?
ZEG stands for zero emissions gardening, and we’re the UK’s first gardening and grounds maintenance company that only uses electrically powered vehicles and tools, powered solely from sustainable energy sources. This means from source to grid to premises to machinery to clients, we are zero emissions.
We have a fairly even split between residential and commercial clients and do standard garden and exterior maintenance such as mowing lawns, pruning shrubs, and pressure washing – amongst other services.
What inspired you to make this company?
The light bulb moment was really when I was discussing electric tools with Dean Roubai (ZEG’s co-founder) and my father, who works on a council and how they’re massively underutilised. Even if these tools were being used residentially, there was a gap in the market, and a need, to branch out into commercial practice.
Electric tools can do the job just as well as petrol-based tools, so we did a bit of research, and decided we needed to lead the way. Something that particularly inspired us was the Californian Air Board review of small off-road engines [pictured below], which found that gardening machinery is hugely ineffective and emits a great deal of pollutants. Running a lawnmower for one hour produces the same amount of pollutants as a petrol vehicle travelling 300 miles, and running a leaf-blower for one hour is the equivalent of 1100 miles! The gardening industry was doing more damage to the environment than a fleet of delivery vehicles.
Nothing was being done, and if not us then who? And if not now, then when? We saw an opportunity to change the way things were done and make a positive impact, now and in the future.
What’s the most important ethos in business for you?
Businesses, including us, should actively do what is right. You can do what’s easy, or you can take the harder and longer route and do what you should do, even if it may cut into your profit margins. Sustainability is the only way to ensure our future.
With that in mind, do you think that zero emissions gardening is the future, or do you see it as a smart and conscientious alternative?
Soon there won’t be an alternative, if you look at cars as an example, when was the last time you saw a car being advertised that didn’t have some element of hybrid or electric components? Companies know that the technology behind electric is just as good, and I honestly believe all we’ve done is stumble on it first with gardening.
The irony of gardening pollutants will persuade people to go zero emissions, you have gardens because you care about green spaces, and I think in five years, the go-to question will be “are you zero emissions?”, look at how people’s attitude to recycling has changed. The real turning point will be when big businesses take it on, especially if they’re encouraged by local councils.
Which of the ZEG zero emissions tools do you think is most impressive or impactful?
The chainsaws. They’re small, but people are amazed that an electric chainsaw can have the same power as a petrol one. They’re capable of cutting down trees of relative size, which no one foresaw.
Currently, electric tools are only really handheld devices like leaf-blowers, strimmers etc; prototypes for bigger machinery are being tested, but they’re not being rolled out generally yet.
How do you feel about working with Clear Architects?
Fantastic! We really like the ethos of the company. Coming down and meeting Melanie, and talking with you, has reinforced it for me. People tend to make changes when they’ve been scrutinised, and it’s so refreshing to see Clear Architects as a company is doing it not out of obligation, but of their own volition because they know it’s the right choice. Sometimes it can be an uphill battle, but we want to share this information and we’re not keeping it to ourselves.
Do you have any additional sustainability advice you’d like to give people?
Switch to a green tariff – it takes ten minutes and won’t cost you any extra. I know it’s unrealistic to say to someone that they should review their entire business model, or hire a sustainability expert to re-roadmap their entire company, but this is doable. There’s a phrase I like: the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the second-best time is right now.
Finally, any big plans in the works?
Our focus is really on growing the business, and teams. Our business model is easy to scale, but it will take time. Five years down the line we will hopefully be working alongside Clear Architects to build the largest sustainable building that London has ever seen as ZEG’s new HQ, and be regarded as the pioneer of the zero emission gardening revolution… watch this space!
If you would like to stay up-to-date with ZEG, their socials are:
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/zeroemissiongardening/
Website – https://zeg.co.uk/