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Sheffield Sustainable Spotlight - Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens


Can you tell us who Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens are and what you do?

At Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens, we create beautiful bespoke kitchens with an emphasis on sustainability. We use materials that are recycled, reclaimed or sustainably sourced, to produce thoughtfully designed high-quality kitchens. Each kitchen is individually designed to meet the needs of our client and are all built to last decades. 

Many of our kitchens have a story to tell, whether it’s the cabinet door fronts that were originally railway wagons, open shelving that had a previous life as a school lab bench (complete with graffiti) or worktops made from recycled glass bottle shards set in a solid resin. 

Oh, and despite our name, we also design and fit bathrooms, bedrooms and fitted furniture as well as kitchens. We’ve grown recently and now work much further than just Sheffield and the surrounding area - we’re creating living spaces across the north of England, and have recently completed kitchens and bathrooms in Manchester, Leeds, Derby and Birmingham.

Why is sustainability important to your brand?

Sustainability is incredibly important to us as a business - it’s our middle name! We’re passionate about minimising our impact on the environment. All of us have a collective responsibility to look after our planet and the way businesses are run are an important element to moving the agenda forward. When managing director Rob Cole founded the business in 2008, he had been fitting kitchens for a few years and was frustrated with unnecessary waste, poor quality materials and levels of service in the kitchen industry. He knew things could be done differently and started his own business with a strong moral compass.

Rob Cole Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens Managing Director

Can you tell us a bit about how Sheffield Sustainable Kitchens puts its commitment to sustainability into action?

Our approach to sustainability can be split up into three strands:

Firstly, our materials. We source our materials sustainably and use materials with high-recycled content wherever we can. We want to be confident that the kitchens we create tread lighter on the planet and use resources thoughtfully. For example, all of our standard kitchen cabinets are made from a special eco board, produced from 100% recycled timber.  

Secondly, longevity. Our kitchens are all carefully designed, consisting of high-quality materials and are designed to last. We create durable kitchens designed to meet our client's needs for many years and support this with our strong aftercare service. A long-lasting kitchen is a sustainable one.

And finally, our company culture. The business was founded upon strong values, and we are driven by our ethics. We use green electricity, bank with the ethical bank Triodos, and recycle as much as we can. From composting our office coffee grounds to re-homing our workshop sawdust and wood chippings, we are mindful of minimising our waste. Five out of our six company vehicles are now electric, and we are working towards having a fleet that is completely electric. Ethical supply chains and championing local businesses are key to the way we do business sustainably - this is why we choose Fletchers to manage the waste from our projects. We love the fact that your commitment to sustainability aligns with ours. 

We were really proud to win the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Business Award 2018 in the category Corporate, Social and Environmental Responsibility, acknowledging our commitment to sustainability.

customers_credit Helena Dolby

What is your favourite project you have worked on and why?

That’s a tough one! We have worked on so many fantastic projects over the last 13 years. I think the big highlight from last year was the kitchen we created for Channel 4’s Ugly House to Lovely House with George Clarke. We designed a fantastic family kitchen for a project we worked on with Sheffield architects CE+CA Studio. It was great to see sustainability at the forefront of a project on mainstream TV and exciting to work with some fantastic partners to achieve a stunning result. So many people loved the kitchen design, particularly the reclaimed timber worktops, which we transformed from school science lab benches.

Do you have any advice for other businesses wanting to use more sustainable products?

It can be a bit daunting if you’re starting on a journey to be a more sustainable business. The key is to identify the easy wins so you can get moving and feel you’re achieving something.

Nominating a sustainability champion or creating a “green team” can start getting people engaged, and setting targets are also good to keep people focused. It’s important to keep targets realistic, though. Just getting started, a business could pick three easy steps to take. 

For example:

  • Choose materials and products that are recyclable, renewable or biodegradable
  • Think green procurement - look closely at your supply chains and don’t be afraid to ask suppliers what they are doing to be sustainable
  • Prioritise local suppliers. This supports the local economy and cuts down transportation costs and your carbon footprint
  • Review what you’re doing with waste - try and keep waste to a minimum and ensure your waste service suppliers are sustainable
  • Support independents and local businesses - research has shown that a considerable amount of money that is spent locally stays within the local economy