Winners big and small celebrate at the Green Business Awards

The more innovative end of the eco sector included woollen coffins (Hainsworth Natural Legacies); cooking-oil-fuelled bus schemes (Stagecoach, which coverts staff's used oil into biodiesel for its West Scottish fleet, reducing CO2 emissions by 80%); wool-lined cardboard boxes for packaging to avoid green nemesis polystyrene (take a bow, The Wool Packaging Company); and Leyland Trucks, the first commercial vehicle manufacturer in Europe to achieve zero waste to landfill.

Marks & Spencer was named Green Business of the Year for its multiple green initiatives - in particular its aim to become carbon neural by 2010 as part of a comprehensive plan that covers impressive fairtrade and animal welfare measures as well as straight-up environmental impact. (We recently wrote a feature on M&S's sales strategy and what you can learn from it that explains more about why the 125-year-old business is so well-admired in so many parts of the business world at the moment).

The diversity of winners, inventions, schemes and sizes of firms mentioned throughout the night proved perfectly that you don't need to be big to make a difference, and that there are plenty of small but positive and inexpensive steps small businesses can take to start healing the damage humanity has caused and continues to cause to our environment and everything that lives within it.

You don't have to go as far as, say, WSP Environment & Energy - the Green Champions for Employees winner - which allows employees to monitor their impact on the environment, and hands out rewards for those who meet the company-wide target. You could just encourage staff to cycle to work; or switch from un-eco packaging to, say, products provided by The Wool Packaging Company; or make sure your team are recycling properly in the office; or just turn off lights and computers that aren't being used and cut down printing.

We don't want to preach to businesses who are already under unimaginable pressures. But the Green Business Awards showed that there are plenty of instances in which being eco-friendly actually works to commercial advantage - whether that's having a USP over your less green competitors, cutting costs by reducing your energy bills, or appealing to a wider market by getting some green credentials - and possibly even winning an award for it. And when commercial and environmental interests align so neatly, we're happy to celebrate.

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