Making a collective and credible difference

Tunbridge Wells based organisation amplifi facilitates the town’s businesses to work together to be more sustainable. It has gone from strength to strength since its launch in January. Tunbridge Wells is the first borough in the UK to have introduced a sector-led sustainability initiative of this scale and kind.

Last month, the Tunbridge Wells Business Magazine announced its support as the official Media Partner for amplifi, and is committed to reporting on the developments of this critical collective’s effort to make an impactful difference in our business community.

This month we talk to co-founders Jenny Kitchen, CEO of Yoyo Design and Pete Kenyon, Partner of Cripps to find out how things have been progressing…

Jenny, what’s happened since amplifi’s launch in January?

The programme has generated huge interest from the business community. We started with 120 guests attending the launch and now have over 220 people from over 180 businesses committed to making a sustainable difference collectively as part of amplifi. 

Thanks to the financial support of RTW Together BID, who are our sponsors, and Net Zero Now, we have managed to offer a substantial subsidy to our first 38 businesses and charities taking part in the first wave of the Net Zero Now programme. 

We have received national press interest in the collective sustainability business model, and we are proud to say Tunbridge Wells is the first borough in the UK to have introduced a sector-led sustainability initiative of this scale and kind.

Fuggles Beer Café hosted their first ‘People, Planet, Pint’ sustainability networking event on 22 May which saw around 40 businesses and consumers meet up to find out more about what’s going on locally with sustainability and how everyone can get involved. The next event is scheduled for Wednesday 26 June at 6pm, visit Fuggles website to book if people want to attend.

In addition, we have the second meeting of our sector-specific groups kicking off this month, with the aim of discussing initiatives that we can all adopt: from the supply of green energy to using e-bikes and electric cars for deliveries, maximising natural light to eco-friendly digital devices. 

Pete, Can any business join amplifi?

We are an inclusive collective set up to ‘amplifI’ the expertise, learnings and stories from businesses, big and small, who share similar goals about their role in the response to the Climate Emergency and their responsibilities to our Local Community. No matter your size, and whether you are a business local to Tunbridge Wells or from further afield – if you want to increase the impact of your business and that of others, then amplifi is for you! This is an open tent, working together to help drive change and impact, the more is most definitely the merrier!

What else do you hope to achieve in 2024?

We need to ensure that the amplifi programme is as accessible as possible, and we know that businesses are struggling financially, so we are currently looking at grant funding and crowd funding to help discount the programme for future businesses taking part, as well as a pay it forward campaign to support charities for our current and future cohorts.

In addition to our regular sector action meetings, we aim to create events to bring businesses together, further expand on our online resources to share knowledge and experiences, and in the long-term look to develop a shared framework to report impact, which grows over time. I think it would be a pretty incredible achievement if amplifi and Tunbridge Wells became the sustainability benchmark for other UK town collectives to follow. 

If we achieve even a part of that in 2024 we would certainly be happy – the community of businesses coming together as amplifi is full of optimism and passion to do this together so the question we keep asking ourselves is why shouldn’t Tunbridge Wells be trailblazers in this hugely important movement. We can’t think of a single reason…

To find out more, there is lots of information available on the website, www.amplifi.tw 

Calling all TW residents

It’s not just about business sustainability, amplifi wants to harness the power of the entire borough, and is reaching out to residents to join businesses in committing to reducing their environmental impact. Jenny explains; “We want Tunbridge Wells to work together to get to net zero and this needs all of us. We know that working together will get us there faster, every one of us can make small changes”. Here are just a few ideas: 

•  Food Waste – You may not know but over 70% of diners don’t ask for a doggy bag because they’d be embarrassed, but by doing so you would prevent food waste. 

•  Swap out plastic – there are now lots of sustainable beauty and hygiene products available, use your own recycled bags shopping, select fruit and vegetables that aren’t packaged in plastic.

•  Buy from local suppliers – reduce produce travel footprint and boost your local economy and job market. Check out The TN card to get extra rewards. 

•  Repurpose or recycle – browse local charity shops or download apps like Vinted and Depop to buy and sell clothes and unwanted goods.

•  Rewilding – Dedicate a part of your garden, or an unused outdoor space in your community, to wildlife through rewilding, and making habitats for bees, bugs and birds.

•  Consider car shares and public transport – save fuel costs and emissions by sharing journeys with others.

•  Champion the cause – Perhaps you work for an employer who you think should be part of the amplifi programme?

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