Reducing Plastic use in our Online Orders at Shut the Front Door

While I have been on my personal journey to reduce plastic use I have also been looking at how we can do the same at Shut the Front Door to make us a more sustainable business.

About 2 years ago we developed our own reusable shopping bags and paper gift bags and I am pleased to say we have never given out plastic bags to our customers so that obvious one had already been ticked off!

So the main area that I have been focused on is packaging of our online orders. We have always reused the cardboard boxes that our stock comes in to send out orders. It just makes no sense to buy new boxes and then throw away the huge amount of boxes that come through our doors every week. This means our orders don’t look as pretty as they could but that’s not the most important thing for something that is going to get thrown away I am sure you will agree.

The main area I could see for improvement was the amount of bubble wrap and polystyrene we were using. I set out to find replacements for these and came up with a few great options. Shredded newspaper is great to fill gaps in boxes and stop items rattling around.. It can be purchased in bulk bags (unfortunately plastic but will work on that!). Another option we have discovered is wood wool. Its basically shavings of wood that is great as it traps a lot of air and holds it shape so doesn’t get crushed.. This has totally replaced the polystyrene beads that we were using.

Newspaper Shred | Plastic free packaging from Shut the Front Door    Wood Wool | Plastic Free Packaging from Shut the Front Door


We still need to occasionally use bubble wrap to protect very fragile items but try and reuse it from stock that has come in bubble wrapped and when we do have to buy it we have switched to Eco-green bubble wrap which is biodegradable. I still don’t think this is the final answer but at present I think it is more sustainable to get your items to you in one piece than to waste all the effort and energy that went into that item by it arriving broken and having to be replaced with another!

The next item on my hit list was the plastic courier bags. They are really only used once with no real use for the receiver once they have been delivered. We have now replaced these with compostable courier bags which are just starting to be rolled out…watch this space and make sure you put them into your compost when you have removed your goodies!

Compostable Courier Bags | Plastic Free Online Orders | Shut the Front Door
My next step is to look at how the products arrive into stores. There is a huge amount of plastic and polysterene that protects our products during the delivery process and therefore arrives into our stores. We do reuse some of it in our online orders so if you receive an order from us with some polysterene it’s because we received it into store and reused it again….we do not buy this item in!

So for plastic free July I have decided I am going to be talking to all our suppliers about the product packaging and how we can reduce the amount of plastic that arrives at our door. If you are a supplier to us and you are reading this be prepared! I had the first conversation recently with our lovely Betty Basics rep and was pleased to hear that as from November all deliveries of clothing will come in biodegradable bags, they also use recycled paper for all catalogues and only work with proven ethical factories….great work guys.. Now on to the next!

So as I have said before we are on a journey and taking small steps in the right direction.. We cant solve this problem overnight but we can all take small steps. Every time you make a decision to reuse or reduce you are stopping another item entering landfill or worse the ocean.

Sarah Parker
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My Plastic Free Journey - the first steps

Most of us by now know that every piece of plastic ever made still exists and its logical therefore that the current rate of production can’t continue and scientists say that soon there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

But does going plastic free seem like too big of a challenge? Are you wondering where to start? Is it too big a task or too overwhelming? Don’t worry you don’t have to do it all at once!

I felt the same way this time last year and so started with a reusable coffee cup. That first step seemed small and relatively easy. Sure I forgot the cup occasionally but I felt really guilty when I did so started to forget less and less. As well as feeling like I had done something positive to help the planet I also really enjoyed drinking out of the glass reusable cup as opposed to a takeaway cup.

Now if I forget my cup I take 10 minutes out of the crazy rush I seem to be permanently in and sit down in the café and drink my coffee there. Another massive positive to being plastic free – stopping to smell the roses and actually focus on enjoying a great coffee.


A tip to help you remember your cup is to have a couple of cups – I have one at work to take to my local café near the office. I have another one at home for on the way to work stops or to take on my weekend walks.

Once I had started with the reusable cup other things quickly followed as it opens your eyes to what other single use plastics you are using. I got my kids some reusable stainless steel straws. My youngest son loves a straw so replacing my pack of plastic straws when it ran out with a stainless steel straw was an easy win.



The plastic bags at the Supermarket was relatively easy too as I do big shops at Pak N Save and have been taking my groceries home in cardboard boxes for years. But its taken a while to get into the habit of having some bags in the car for quick pit stops at New World or Countdown. To be honest I have been shamed into it because it didn’t feel good being in the minority walking out of the supermarket with a plastic bag!

I have just recently started using reusable produce bags as it felt wrong to be using so many bags here. There are lots of options on the market to replace that single use supermarket bag but I have been using the drawstring bags that many brands of linen comes in. I had built up quite a stock of these (yes I have a great linen collection!) and was wondering what to use them for when inspiration struck! Great recycling idea and they look cool in the trolley! I have also stopped buying any prepackaged vegetables at the supermarket. There is absolutely no need for three courgettes to be packed on a polystrene tray and gladwrapped. Maybe if we don’t buy them that will send a message to supermarkets and growers…here is hoping!

So I think the best way to look at it is that every change you make is a positive step in the right direction. Its a journey rather than a destination which once you start makes you far more aware of the plastic you are using and it is easy to continue to build on that first step.

I feel like I have come a long way since that first step of buying a reusable coffee cup last July but still have a long way to go. What step will you take this July?

Watch out for upcoming blogs where I will tell you more about what I am going to be doing this Plastic Free July and what Shut the Front Door has done to reduce its plastic use.  Also check out our Instagram giveaway to win all the below items to give you the perfect Plastic Free July starter kit.

 

Sarah Parker
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Christmas Shopping - my buying trip to fill your Christmas Stockings!

I thought I you might be interested on how the most important buying trip of the year works.   Christmas is a big deal for Shut the Front Door and so buying the stock that you all need to make your Christmas Gift shopping easy is no small feat. It sometimes makes me feel like I am buying Christmas presents for the whole of New Zealand!

The buying exercise is mostly done on a four day shopping trip to Melbourne which I have just returned from. Melbourne hosts 3 major trade shows at this time plus a number of smaller events where artisans and wholesalers display there wares. Just about every retailer in Australia and quite a lot from Melbourne are there all with the aim of filling there stores with stock for Christmas.

The venues range from shiny concrete exhibition centres, 150 year old exhibition buildings with the most exquisite architecture to a graffiti covered old warehouse by the train tracks.
The beautiful Royal Exhibition Hall in Melbourne  

Who would have thought that inside this pretty rough looking building was some beautiful products that will be coming our way!

In preparation for the trip I do lots of work looking at trends, brainstorming ideas and making lists of what we need. I analyse what we sold last year and how many units of everything we need. I make sure we have all the different categories covered with gifts for men, gifts for her, gifts for kids etc etc. Then I put all that in a folder and ignore it and go around buying what I love!!! Probably not so scientific but it seems to work.

The trip involves long days of walking and talking and trying to pick out the awesome nuggets that you will love from a massive amount of average products!

I do this buying alone as I have found over the 15 years I have been a buyer thats what works best as there are no distractions but it does mean you spend the days talking to yourself - Will our customers like this? Have I got everyone covered? Have I got enough? Have I got too much? What have I missed? How will we merchandise this? But in the end you have to remember that you will always make some mistakes…if you don't you haven't taken enough risks!

Here are some photos of a few of our supplier stands that I visited....

     

    Halcyon Nights

You will see everything I have bought on this trip arriving in stores throughout the next few months - hopefully you love it, I bought enough and not too much!!

Look forward to welcoming you all in store to view our amazing collection of Christmas Gifts at Shut the Front Door.

Sarah Parker
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