Bioregional began back in 1992 because we recognised that over-consumption of resources is the major driving force for environmental degradation. We reasoned that if we could produce more of our goods from local resources, especially waste and renewable resources, in an efficient way then we could reduce the impact of the goods and services we use.
Pooran found that there was enough sustainably managed wood available but unused from coppice woodland in south east England to supply the entire UK barbecue charcoal market. Yet we were importing 98% of our charcoal, often from unsustainably managed sources.
Concerned about the impact of paper on the world’s forests and their biodiversity, Sue found that we could meet the UK’s needs for paper from recycled waste paper, supplemented with agricultural crops and residues such as surplus straw. So began two areas of our work. Working with others, we had no shortage of other ideas and decided to start our own organisation, Bioregional Development Group, which was registered as a charity in 1994.
Bioregional was founded as a charity because in developing these new ideas a lot of public education about the issues as well as research and development needed to be carried out. But we always intended our projects to be models which could be taken into the mainstream economy, either through the establishment of new companies, as in the case of Bioregional Charcoal and Bioregional MiniMills, or by working in partnership with existing companies, as in the case of BedZED and Local paper for London.
The market focused approach complements EU and government policies which have an equally positive impact, as in the case of the Landfill Tax. We are keen to pass on our experiences to government. But the main difference about Bioregional is that we deliver real-life practical solutions.