Sustainable Business Practices

Hydroleafs NFT Hydro setup growing organic fresh produce

05 Dec 2022

Sustainable Business Practices

My Introduction to Sustainable Business Practices

I've had the pleasure of working with the Romano Group over the last year or two. The company started in 1952 by my late grandfather, Romano Romano. This story is not made up, I promise you! My grand father (or Papou) came to South Africa when he was 16 as a stowaway. Apparently he was in Egypt trying to sign up to fight against the Nazis in World War II. From what I remember, he was not old enough and ended up on a boat down to South Africa. Some time later he started working as a bespoke signmaker. Eventually Romano Signs moved to Parden Eiland, and expanded. My mother, aunt and uncles all worked there.

Fast forward to 2022 - Romano Group consists of three companies: Romano Signs, Romano Solar, and Hydroleaf. Me and my brother work there for my Uncle, Alexi Romano, who took over and scaled it into the company it is today. Romano Signs now creates signage for some of South Africa's largest retail outlets and corporations. Romano Solar creates sustainable, clean energy solutions for clients all over Africa. Hydroleaf is a new startup that grows microgreens and other fresh produce for the clients and consumers in the Western Cape.

A common trend in these businesses is the fact that they are exploring routes to becoming more sustainable businesses in the long term. They all operate in factory that uses solar energy to power operations. They all practice individual sustainable business practices to innovate in their industry and play their part in protecting the environment.

I've listed some things I've learned and thought about while working at the factory. Some points relate to Romano Group's operations and some relate to the research I've done on my own.

Sustainable business practices used in indoor farming

Indoor farming is a rapidly growing industry that has the potential to revolutionize the way we produce food. By growing crops indoors in controlled environments, indoor farmers can optimize conditions for plant growth and reduce their reliance on natural resources like sunlight and water. This makes indoor farming a sustainable business practice that can help to address some of the challenges associated with traditional agriculture, such as water scarcity and soil degradation.

One of the key sustainable business practices used in indoor farming is the efficient use of water. Indoor farming systems are designed to minimize water loss and recycle water whenever possible. This means that crops can be grown using less water than they would in outdoor environments, where water can easily evaporate or be lost to the ground.

PVC Hydroponic setup growing italian large leaf basil

Another sustainable practice used in indoor farming is the use of renewable energy. Indoor farming facilities often use renewable energy sources, such as solar power, to run their operations. This helps to reduce the carbon footprint of indoor farming and makes it a more environmentally friendly option compared to traditional agriculture.

In addition to these practices, many indoor farmers also focus on reducing waste and pollution. Indoor farming systems are designed to minimize the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, which can have negative impacts on the environment. Instead, many indoor farmers use organic methods and natural pest control techniques to grow their crops. This not only helps to protect the environment, but also produces healthier, more nutritious food for consumers.

Hydroleaf Microgreens growing in an NFT Hydro gutter setup.

Overall, sustainable business practices are at the heart of the indoor farming industry. By using efficient water use, renewable energy, and sustainable growing methods, indoor farmers are helping to create a more sustainable food system that can support the needs of our growing population.

Sustainable business practices using solar energy

Solar energy is a clean, renewable, and sustainable source of power that is becoming increasingly popular among businesses. By installing solar panels on their roofs or on dedicated solar farms, businesses can generate their own electricity and reduce their reliance on fossil fuels. This not only helps to protect the environment, but can also save businesses money on their energy bills.

One of the key sustainable business practices associated with solar energy is the efficient use of resources. Solar panels are designed to capture the sun's energy and convert it into electricity, without the need for any additional fuel or resources. This means that solar energy is a sustainable option because it uses a natural, renewable resource to generate power.

Romano Solar Mall Solar Rooftop project

Another sustainable practice associated with solar energy is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Traditional sources of electricity, such as coal and natural gas, emit large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. These gases contribute to climate change and have a negative impact on the environment. In contrast, solar energy produces no greenhouse gas emissions, making it a much cleaner and more sustainable option.

In addition to these benefits, solar energy can also support the local economy and community. Many businesses choose to install solar panels on their roofs or on dedicated solar farms, which creates jobs and boosts the local economy. Solar energy can also help to improve the reliability and resilience of the power grid, providing a secure and stable source of electricity for communities.

Romano Solar Factory in Paarden eiland

Overall, sustainable business practices involving solar energy can have a positive impact on the environment, the economy, and the community. By harnessing the power of the sun, businesses can generate clean, renewable, and sustainable energy that can help to create a brighter and more sustainable future.

Sustainable Business Practices in the signage industry

The signage industry plays a vital role in providing businesses and organizations with the tools they need to communicate with customers and the wider public. From storefront signs and banners to digital displays and directional signage, the signage industry helps businesses to attract customers and promote their products and services.

Sustainable business practices are becoming increasingly important in the signage industry, as more and more businesses look for ways to reduce their environmental impact and support sustainable development. Here are some of the key sustainable practices used in the signage industry:

  1. Using sustainable materials: Many businesses in the signage industry are turning to sustainable materials, such as recycled plastics, bamboo, and cork, to create their signs and displays. These materials are renewable and biodegradable, making them a more sustainable option compared to traditional materials like wood and metal.

  2. Energy-efficient lighting: LED lighting is becoming increasingly popular in the signage industry because it is energy-efficient and long-lasting. LED lights use less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs, which means that businesses can reduce their energy consumption and lower their carbon footprint.

  3. Reducing waste: The signage industry generates a significant amount of waste, from the materials used to create signs and displays to the packaging used for shipping and storage. To reduce waste, many businesses in the signage industry are implementing recycling programs and using sustainable packaging materials.

  4. Supporting local communities: Many businesses in the signage industry support local communities by using local materials and labor, and by partnering with local organizations to support community initiatives. By investing in the local community, businesses in the signage industry can help to create jobs and promote economic development.

Overall, sustainable business practices are becoming increasingly important in the signage industry. By using sustainable materials, energy-efficient lighting, and reducing waste, businesses in the signage industry can help to create a more sustainable future.

Final thoughts on Sustainable Business Practices in South Africa

Working with a variety of different sustainable businesses really opens your eyes. I have learned that regardless of your industry, you have to play your part. I would suggest considering what brands and businesses you support based on their contribution to our planet. It is our responsibility to decide what is and what is not acceptable.

Sustainable businesses can really make an impact on the future of our planet and I encourage any business owner (small or big) to carefully examine the way they conduct themselves. I would like to work with as many sustainable businesses as possible. If you would like to discuss a project the contact me via email or socials!