Brendan Dooley with daughter Lisa and the coveted Green Small Organisation of the Year Award.
An Offaly enterprise, The Factory, has won Green Small Organisation of the Year in the 2022 Green Awards. The award was announced during the ceremony held at Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road, Dublin where critically acclaimed author and comedian Colm O’Regan was host on the night.
The Factory provides eco-printing, branding, design, website development and sign-making services to local and national clients. The business is located in Offaly about 10km from Birr near the village of Fivealley.
The Factory was shortlisted together with five other eco-conscious organisations that included some well know brands: Ballymaloe Foods, Falcon Green, Mortgage 123, Swords Pavilions Shopping Centre and The Kind Brand Company. To come out on top was a remarkable achievement for this innovative enterprise. The expert panel of judges noted, “every business needs to strive to achieve what The Factory have”.
Lisa Dooley, Creative Director at The Factory, who accepted the award said: "It is incredibly motivating and I know this will encourage us to do even more on our sustainability journey”. Lisa emphasised the importance of both staff and clients: “a massive thank-you to our incredible team; we wouldn’t have achieved so many milestones without everyone working together”. She also thanked their supportive and encouraging clients, and said, "the award really belongs to both The Factory team and it's clients as they made it possible".
Considering the comprehensive range of sustainability actions put in place by the eco-enterprise, it becomes apparent why they won this national award. The list includes: installing a solar panel array, erecting a wind turbine, installing batteries to store electricity, investing in an electric vehicle for local deliveries, fitting a modern air-to-water heating system, upgrading lighting to energy efficient LED bulbs, printing with plant-based/eco toner (ink), using only plastic-free packaging, managing five acres of surrounding land for biodiversity, developing a design process to empower clients to make eco-decisions, creating the ‘product passport’ to highlight planet positive choices, offering weekly yoga classes and implementing a four day work week to promote healthy work-life balance, placing bee hives and a barn owl nesting box on the property, sharing the eco-journey on social media, providing further education opportunities to staff, and installing a rainwater harvesting system. They also created an eco-design brief for graphic design students at TUS, Athlone. These remarkable sustainability actions have been a cornerstone of the company attracting eco-conscious clients from all over Ireland.
Many who are familiar with The Factory will know that sustainability is not new for the enterprise. In fact, they previously published Ireland’s journal on sustainable living, The Local Planet, which is set to return later this year. They were also the first commercial print enterprise in Ireland to use plant-based inks and rainwater as part of the lithographic printing process.
When asked about the financial investment involved in implementing so many measures, Lisa said this was significant. "Back in 2018, an idea formed that the business was to become sustainable or fail trying. This may have seemed risky, but we felt that an even bigger risk would be not to act. We decided not to wait for any future incentives or grants as it seemed there was always another reason not to act. I recall the phrase ‘pay it forward' being used at the time".
Lisa’s dad and Managing Director of The Factory, Brendan Dooley, who accompanied her to the Green Awards event in Dublin, remarked how the investment risk has in fact made the business stronger. He said: “we have many new customers who are supporting us on this sustainability journey who understand the importance of all businesses becoming sustainable as quickly as possible. I mean if we cannot become sustainable, then, ultimately, we won’t have a future. It is clear that we cannot wait for others. Each enterprise must urgently plot their respective sustainability path now. This cannot be done by someone else, every enterprise must take responsibility for the environmental impact of their own organisation.
“I strongly believe that business owners who make the necessary decisions and put sustainability at the top of their agenda will find that this will be one of the best decisions they ever make. They are in effect putting the interests of future generations first, but will also find the journey rewarding today, in terms of team morale and through additional support from customers, and I suspect, attracting many new clients. This is not to mention the many benefits that relate to waste reduction and resource/energy saving.”
Recently three team members have completed sustainability business courses in GMIT, which has helped the enterprise accumulate the necessary knowledge. With this theory and the practical information gained though The Factory’s own eco-actions, Lisa and the team believe they are in a position to help other small businesses transition to more sustainable practices. They have recently founded The Eco School and are currently developing a number of short courses that will be held on-site at The Factory.
Lisa said: “as many small enterprises have a limited number of employees, time and resources, these courses could help reduce risks and accelerate their sustainability journey”. By sharing its sustainability experiences in a practical setting, participants might be able to visualise and better understand how to implement similar eco-initiatives in their specific enterprise, perhaps learning from what The Factory has done right and the mistakes made along the way. They plan to publish details on both thefactory.ie and ecoschool.ie when course details are finalised. Keep up to date with their eco-journey on instagram: @thefactory.ie, @ecoschool.ie and @thelocalplanet.
Fellow award winners on the night include, An Post, Hotel Doolin, Gas Networks Ireland, Tesco, Lidl, SSE Airtricity and Palm Free Irish Soap. Another notable award, Green Leader 2022, went to former President of Ireland and Chair of The Elders, Mary Robinson. The main sponsor of this year’s awards was Bord na Móna.
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