Helen Wheeler-Osman is celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Environmental Strategies Limited this year. 20 years helping companies to feel good about themselves by reducing the impact their business has on the environment.
She was 15 when Step Dad, Steve Anstice set up the Company in 1998. During that time, Helen studied History and Politics at Durham University, completed a graduate training scheme with East Riding of Yorkshire Council and then made her way to London to work for Westminster City Council in the Neighbourhood Management Team. She explains:
“I spent 3 years in London and loved every minute. My patch was Covent Garden and Leicester Square which contains lots of residential property so part of my role involved managing the logistics of public, commercial and residential waste. At the time, statistics showed that more people were in the area at 3am than at 3pm and so the bins were emptied 7 times throughout that 24-hour period. Most of this activity goes un-noticed by the public, but there would be outrage if there was a problem and our trucks couldn’t get in to remove the rubbish. I also enjoyed working closely with the Police for film screenings and events in the centre of The Capital to help manage their security plan which was a major logistical manoeuvre.”
Helen had always been interested in Steve’s business and when the opportunity arose for her to join the family business, made the move back up to Hull from the South. She continues:
“I came in to the business to do thermal imaging which shows a building’s heat-loss with an infrared camera. It’s a great way to help a business save money and protect the environment and so demand grew. I built up that area of the business and when Steve was ready to retire I took over the whole Company in 2016.”
“During this time I received and continue to receive support as a member of For Entrepreneurs Only (FEO). I took part in their 360 Programme which helps business owners to grow their companies and I am also supported by the Green Port Growth Programme.”
Helen’s passion is helping companies to do something positive to create less waste, recycle more and use less energy. Through Environmental Strategies she helps clients to achieve accreditation in ISO 14001, the international standard that specifies requirements for an effective environmental management system (EMS). It provides a framework to follow, rather than establishing environmental performance requirements. Helen gets her clients through the accreditation and provides ongoing advice on legislative updates and changes to ensure they keep the certificate.
“This is what excites me as I can see visible changes that are made when going through the process. Depending on the size of the business, the accreditation can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. Most of our clients are SMEs but we also work very closely with Ideal Boilers. They are doing everything they can to reduce their environmental impact in product and process and I have been advising on packaging with their supply chain. Ideal wants all suppliers to use returnable packaging which reduces the waste by no longer using polystyrene or cardboard. Instead they have invested in robust plastic crates to transport their goods and components to and from the site. In-turn, knowing what they want from suppliers helps us to advise our smaller clients who want to work with bigger companies.”
“Overall I see that companies are trying to be more responsible and doing so will also help SMEs to get involved with multi-nationals. If they can say that all packaging is returnable, the market will drive this forward for everyone.”
Environmental Strategies is a successful company. At any one time the team is working with up to 20 companies. ISO14001 is intensive and Helen says it is up to her to manage so that organisations can run it themselves.
“We also have a major contract with Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). This package provides up to £10,000 match funding to small businesses for resource efficiency investments. Locally the SPARK Fund, via Hull University provides funding for innovative projects and the Manufacturing Growth Programme for companies with 250 employees or less.”
“We employ a number of subcontractors throughout the region who help us to manage clients along the M62 corridor. We do have competitors but tend to work together in this field rather than against. For example we collaborate with a Health and Safety company to help each others’ clients.”
Currently undertaking a Diploma in Sustainable Business, Helen will further help organisations to gear up for the growing population. She says:
“We have a responsibility to future generations, it’s something that weighs on my mind. In hindsight, I wish the ‘Attenborough Effect’ had taken hold 25 years ago, when we stood a better chance of reversing some of the effects of climate change. But now, we are managing the effects and beginning to see victims of climate change in the UK. The most vulnerable are hit the hardest with flooding and also temperatures are killing the elderly and disabled in the height of summer and depths of winter.”
“To stop climate change, we need a global cultural shift but there are simple changes everyone can put in place immediately; low emission vehicles, buying local and seasonal produce, installing the best insulation, LED lighting and aerators on water taps. I would also like to see people educate themselves on climate change, after all it’s our joint responsibility, we can’t lay the blame at anyone else’s door.”
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), otherwise known as the Global Goals are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. Please read about them here: http://bit.ly/UNSustainabilityGoalsMap.
Interview with Jess Clark, Divine Clark PR. Photo of Helen with Craig Neill, QHSE Manager at Advanced Plastics Ltd, Hull – courtesy of Hull Daily Mail