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.
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!
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.