Extreme and the Deep Blue Clean…..
Our impact on the environment has been an area of concern for many over recent generations, though 2018 seems to have seen a surge of interest in people wanting to ‘do their bit’ for the planet. This appears follow in the wake of last year’s eye-opening docu-series Blue Planet II where David Attenborough narrated devastating scenes of the world’s oceans littered with plastic and highlighted its detrimental impact on sea life. This sparked action all over the country, including in our home town of Harrogate where activist groups such as Plastic Free Harrogate, Waste Not Harrogate and Knaresborough SPARKS were established to educate followers on the damages of plastic and offer environmentally friendly alternatives. They also promote the work of local businesses who are taking a proactive approach to better their environmental impact by improving their products and processes.
The most prevalent action many local businesses are taking to contribute to these environmental efforts is swapping out plastic straws, which are easily swallowed by sea life and take 200 years to decompose, for biodegradable paper straws. The Fat Badger, Baltzersen’s and Cold Bath Deli have all made the move to paper straws, as have Revolution De Cuba who have rolled out a #NoStrawPorFavor sustainability campaign nationally. As part of the Revolution Bar Group, alongside Vodka Revolution, the organisation’s move away from plastic straws to biodegradable paper ones will mean 30 million less straws a year will get sent to landfill.
Another key change local businesses such as cafes have made is the move towards biodegradable cups and lids for take-away drinks, as well offering a discount for those who bring their own reusable cup, with Bean & Bud, Fodder and NJ’s all offering 25p off to environmentally conscious customers. Baltzersen’s went one step further and announced Yorkshire’s first disposable cup ban in May, meaning to purchase a coffee you have to bring your own cup or purchase a reusable one from them.
Reduction in plastic packaging is the approach taken by stores such as Roots and Fruits, Regal Fruitiers and Jarfull, all of whom encourage customers to bring their own reusable containers such as organic cotton bags or jars when purchasing fruit, veg, grains, nuts and cereals. Jarfull also offer plastic free body care products such as bamboo toothbrushes, solid shampoo bars and mouthwash tablets.
It’s not only smaller local businesses taking action against single-use plastic! The Betty’s and Taylors Group who operate three iconic brands; Betty’s, Taylors of Harrogate and Yorkshire Tea, have also taken progressive steps towards better environmental practice. As well as swapping out plastic straws for paper ones in Betty’s cafes, the plastic used to seal Yorkshire Tea’s tea bags will be swapped for a renewable plant-based material making them biodegradable. The group also set up a community project, The Cone Exchange, which works with 200 Yorkshire schools, community groups and charities to ‘transform trash into treasure’ and educate local youth about the importance of being environmentally aware.
Our town’s very own Harrogate Spring Water are also industry leaders in being more environmentally friendly. Their plastic bottles are 100% recyclable, meaning the lid and label are too, as well as being the only bottle made up of over 50% recycled content (rPET) of any bottled water producer. They promote recycling their bottles in their ‘Twist it, Cap it, Recycle it’ campaign which they explain means an almost infinite life-cycle for their bottles. Alternatively, you could refill their bottles, or any plastic bottle you have, at a range of locations such as Rafi’s Spice Box who partake in the app based Refill Scheme which allows users to find places to refill their water bottles for free.
All of these progressive steps taken by local businesses are a move in the right direction, which combined with the national movement towards better environmental practices will have a significant impact on the welfare of the planet. It’s simple changes that can have the greatest impact, look at how the plastic bag charge changed our shopping habits, single-use plastic bag sales are down a whopping 86%!
So what changes can your business make to become more environmentally friendly?
Here are a few tips on how to go green:
- Office Supplies: Swap your paper supply to one made from recycled paper, then reduce paper waste and print double-sided where possible. You can also swap to pens made from recycled materials to reduce the amount of plastic you throw away every time the ink runs out.
- Green Procurement: Source goods and services that have been produced sustainably and don’t require excessive packaging. Also check to see if the supplier will take back packaging for re-use or recycling.
- Cups and Cutlery: Swap out those single use plastic cups and cutlery for reusable ones as well as encouraging employees to bring refillable water bottles rather than single-use water bottles and provide them with unlimited filtered tap water.
- Up-cycle your Office Furniture: Office furniture is often made of plastic and so up-cycling it rather than buying new not only helps save money but also helps save the planet.
- Lights: Swapping to LED bulbs is not only more energy efficient, they’re cost-effective as they last much longer and can also be recycled.
- Cut the commute: Try walking or biking to work, the exercise will make you feel great. Car sharing for longer journeys is another option, not only will it reduce traffic on the roads but it’s also great for the environment.
- Switch it off: Turn off your electricals when they’re not in use. Nominate energy champions to ensure everything is turned off at the end of the day or after it’s finished being used. Not only will it save you money, it will help save the environment.
- Start the Conversation: Encourage staff to proactively think about their impact and that of the wider business on the environment and what they can do to reduce waste. You could even provide incentives for them to minimise plastic use and increase recycling.