How this Leeds decorating business is combatting climate change one paint tin at a time

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Grōni puts the environment at the heart of everything it does - from choosing paints to how it gets clients.

The Leeds-based ecological decorating business, founded by Matus Marek, uses non-toxic paints, avoids single-use plastics and opts for 100 per cent compostable products in place of polythene dust sheets and bin bags.

Matus, 33, grew up in Slovakia where he ran an organic vegetable box delivery business. He moved to Leeds seven years ago, initially to visit his sister for six months, but during that time he met his partner and made the city his home.

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Matus Marek, founder of Grōni, with his business partner Kobi TettehMatus Marek, founder of Grōni, with his business partner Kobi Tetteh
Matus Marek, founder of Grōni, with his business partner Kobi Tetteh

A trained painter and decorator, Matus took a year-long sabbatical with his partner in 2019. He witnessed how pollution is affecting every corner of the world, igniting a passion to live a more sustainable life.

During the first lockdown, after seeing photos of a less-polluted planet, Matus decided to launch a business that puts the environment first.

Grōni adopts a ‘pedal and paint’ scheme which sees the team cycle to as many of their jobs as possible and when that’s not an option they pay a voluntary environmental tax.

The team plant trees and have a robust recycling scheme which includes ‘paint it forward’ - an innovative project that prevents unused paint sitting in lofts and sheds turning to waste.

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Matus has grand ambitions of taking the scheme even further and is in the process of developing a larger zero-waste scheme geared for businesses.

He said: “We strive to be the perfect example of a 21st century business and the year 2020 somehow feels like a great turning point for us all.

"Where the pandemic has been a struggle on so many levels, I feel grateful it allowed me to step back and think more creatively about what I wanted to commit my career goals to and how I could make it work.

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"I think if it hadn’t happened I’d likely have taken a job that paid the bills but made me unhappy.”

Matus' story is being promoted by Starling Bank as it runs a campaign 'Here to Change', encouraging small businesses to make use of its offers - including zero monthly fees, no charges for UK transfers, ability to save receipts in-app and easy integration with accounting software.

He used the bank while travelling abroad before setting up a business account and said the bank's commitment to sustainability was the perfect fit for his business.

Starling plants trees for every customer referral, has launched a debit card made from recycled plastic and makes no investments in fossil fuels.

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