Stewarts named as UK's greenest butcher

A family of butchers who light up their shop with wind power, source venison from local wild herds and grow their own herbs for their sausages have been voted the UK’s greenest as National Butchers’ Week gets underway.

Stewarts of Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, scooped the award for the UK’s Greenest Butcher as part of the celebrations for National Butchers’ Week, which takes place between March 15-20.

The annual event – now in its third year – celebrates the UK’s finest traditions in butchery and husband and wife team Gabriel, 60, and Sheila, 59, will now be held up as an example of how to be a sustainable butcher in the 21st century following concerns over the impact of meat production on the environment.

The couple are helped in their quest for green perfection by general manager son Shane, 35, deli manager daughter Ashling, 28, and youngest daughter Kirsty, 23, who also helps run the family butcher.

As well as taking their electricity from a local wind farm, the Stewarts have installed low-energy light bulbs throughout their shop in Church Street and estimate that their green efforts currently save 250 tonnes of CO2 a year – equivalent to the amount generated by 45 UK households (Energy Savings Trust).

Gabriel, whose store nestles in the heart of the rural County Fermanagh town, said: “We take our commitment to being a sustainable business very seriously and our motto is ‘Reduce, Re-use, Recycle’.

“Our customers seem to appreciate the efforts we are making and we are constantly looking at ways to improve our environmental record. It’s something we take very seriously.”

Currently, the Stewarts’ environment saving measures include:

-    Sourcing all beef, pork, lamb and poultry from local farms
-    Stocking venison from regular Forestry Commission culls of local wild herds
-    Using Airtricity as their energy provider, which generates electricity from local wind turbines
-    Heating their shop stairwell with heat given off from strategically placed refrigerators
-    Recycling all plastic metal, glass and shop paper waste
-    Composting all kitchen waste and shredded office paper, using it to grow leeks, spring onions, herbs and other fruit and vegetables in their kitchen garden - all for use in their store’s home cooked recipes
-    Using recycled recyclable packaging such as paper bags and greaseproof paper wherever possible
-    Bulk buying and storing of long-life ingredients, as well as encouraging local fresh produce suppliers from neighbouring towns to combine their deliveries to save road miles

In addition, the Stewarts have replaced all their old refrigeration units for new ones and encourage staff to pool cars wherever possible, even allowing them to work flexible hours so they can share lifts with co-workers.

Ed Bedington, editor MTJ, which organises National Butchers’ Week, said: “The Stewarts’ business shows what can be achieved in terms of local sourcing and saving energy throughout the store.

“Their green efforts point the way forward for butchers throughout the UK, who are already doing their bit for the environment through many green measures such as local sourcing and recycling waste.”

Honourable mentions also go to J W Mettricks, Complete Meats, Daylesford Organics and Aubrey Allen for their considerable efforst when it comes to the environment.

Bedington added: "Our search revealed the fact there was a large number of butchers taking their environmental responsibilities seriously, and that is to be applauded. There are some great schemes out there, and I'd urge everyone in the trade to follow their example."