Cleaning up at Lavang
How a Fulwood Road Indian restaurant has achieved carbon neutral status in a wider effort to become more socially conscious
Outside of the recent COP26 summit, the ongoing climate crisis has taken somewhat of a backseat to the pandemic on the news agenda, but despite this, businesses worldwide are still looking to ‘go green’ and lower their environmental impact.
While some vow to change their packaging materials in order to become more sustainable, others have resorted to cleaner means of production, with a number of multinational corporations, including Netflix, announcing plans to go ‘carbon neutral’ within the next few years.
But what exactly do businesses mean when they say they are going carbon neutral?
In a nutshell, it means that a company is offsetting the same amount of CO2 as it is emitting by contributing to the environment in other ways. Maybe they are donating money to a sustainable charity, or volunteering for local environmental organisations.
A more technical definition states that carbon neutrality means having a balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks. Removing carbon oxide from the atmosphere and then storing it is known as carbon sequestration. In order to achieve net zero emissions, all worldwide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will have to be counterbalanced by carbon sequestration.
Carbon neutrality is achieved by calculating a carbon footprint of the business and reducing it to zero through a combination of efficiency measures in-house and supporting external emission reduction projects.
With that in mind, popular Fulwood Road restaurant Lavang used the down time over lockdown to look at ways in which they could do their own bit for the environment by offsetting their emissions and becoming carbon neutral.
Head chef and owner Jay Kawsar explains: “For us, carbon neutral literally means that we reduced our emissions. We wanted to show that we’re not standing still, and we wanted to do things that benefitted the environment.
“Firstly, we reduced what we can in house. Really simple stuff like employing locally so staff don’t have to travel in, car sharing, using public transport. Other things that help us in house are having a smaller venue, and a seasonal menu, so we’re not wasting a lot of food, which also links to portion control.
“Other obvious measures are things like making sure that all our utilities are switched off, so the water switched off, the power switched off, so that nothing’s running that doesn’t need to be.”
On top of all these efforts, in order to achieve their goal of being a carbon neutral business the Lavang team then had to go through the process of calculating their emissions by partnering with (TAG) Carbon Neutral Britain.
Once those calculations were made, it was just a matter of offsetting the difference by implementing the above measures, alongside Carbon Neutral Britain’s carbon offsetting projects, which go through a rigorous and public registration and issuance process, third party audit and are overseen by the CDM Executive Board (appointed by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), ratified by the Kyoto Protocol. Once this was all in place, they could then announce that they are certified as a Carbon Neutral Business.
In 2019, a YouGov study of over 9000 consumers found that they were 67% more likely to choose a product or service from a business that is acting on climate change and the environment.
“We’ve looked at ways where we can differentiate ourselves from your peers and your competitors,” says Jay, “and we’re really proud of what we’ve achieved.
“There’s a lot of detail that goes into it, and sustainability is in everyone’s minds at the moment, but a lot of people don’t know the exact details, or how carbon neutrality can be achieved, so we feel education is also important.
“This this is just one step of a wider company initiative to increase our social value by implementing our own Social Value Action Plan, which covers three topics: environmental, economic and social. We’ve had time on our hands because of the lockdown, and for us it was whether we’re going to use that time wisely, so we decided to think about improvements that we can make.
“Some of the stuff that I’ve mentioned, like employing locally, and looking after the well-being of staff, as well as trying to generate our own energy at some point is part of that process.
“Achieving carbon neutral status felt great. It was one step completed and we’re now doing our bit. People can look at us and say, ‘these guys are thinking about the wider good, they’re not just worried about turnover’. There’s loads of big companies out there doing environmental projects, but in terms of independents, we’re happy that we’re one of the first, but we know there’s a lot more to do.”
As the pandemic rumbles on (at time of writing, Plan B measures for homeworking have recently been announced), Lavang have remained committed to keeping customers safe by continuing to implement safety measures and sanitisation routines to help slow the spread of the virus, as well as adapting the business to include online sales, whether that be takeaways or their online gift shop, where you can pick up pickles, Christmas hampers and their very own spiced gin.
At the heart of it all though, what will always set Lavang apart is the quality of their ‘Indian food with a twist’ and the amazing service they offer their guests.
Jay said: “We offer the flavours and the spicing that people are used to, but the actual presentation and the way we prepare the food has evolved over time and become more and more refined. Guests can expect an elevated experience at Lavang.”
“We offer specialist meats like ox cheek and a revolving list of specials as the menu changes every six months with seasonality. The one thing that we always keep on, that’s been on the menu since day one, is our lamb nawab, and that’s probably the dish that we’re recognised for if I’m completely honest.”
Lavang are currently taking Christmas Party and New Year’s Eve bookings. Head over to their website for more details.