Don’t be put off to start making a difference
When it comes to being more ‘ethical’, I have always been discouraged by the worthies who want you to be 100% committed to the cause or not at all. One of the reasons we held back on being more responsible in our business was partly because I felt we either had to get it all right or someone would find out and shame us. As soon as I understood I had to do whatever I could rather than making sure I had everything covered - being more responsible became much easier. For those who are looking for easy ways to start making a difference here are 10 simple ideas.
Plastic Poly Bags
Apart from drug dealers, jewellers use the little plastic poly bags more than anyone else. Like most plastic, poly bags aren’t good for the environment and will take 1000 years to breakdown in landfill. Here at E.C.One, we have switched to acid free tissue. This works almost as well and actually looks much better when you are showing something to a customer. If you absolutely can’t do without a poly bag then Cooksongold now sell a biodegradable version.
Recycle, Recycle, Recycle
When it came to recycling office waste and general rubbish, we were pleasantly surprised that our current supplier (First Mile) is considered one of the best. Nothing goes to landfill and the different recycling options mean that our mixed recycling does actually get recycled. We have moved to separating food waste and as long as someone remembers to change the bag (and we don’t get inundated with fruit flies) then this is a good way to turn kitchen waste to renewable energy. Food waste that goes to landfill decomposes under uncontrolled conditions and releases methane - which is 23x more dangerous to the planet than carbon dioxide.
Bento Boxes and Keep Cups
We are super fortunate to have a street market near our shop selling fantastic street food. The only issue is we get left with lots of used food packaging and unrecyclable boxes. After a bit of research we have invested in a bunch of reusable food containers (like bento boxes) which any of the team can grab to use instead. This cuts down on our rubbish, saving money and also has the added advantage of being slightly larger than the standard box…..my waistband is increasing.
Keep Cups work in the same way but for hot drinks. As 99% of coffee cups are not recycled this is a big win for coffee lovers - don’t leave home without one.
Bamboo Toilet Paper
Most toilet paper is still made with virgin trees. Not only are we cutting them down, wiping our bums and flushing them down the toilet, but we’re consuming loads of energy and water along the way. Toilet paper from companies like Who Gives A Crap are made without trees but 100% forest friendly bamboo instead, with no inks, dyes or scents. Trees should be for hugging, not wiping.
Our workshop now only makes in recycled or Fairtrade Gold. There are good reasons for this
and I have written a piece for Retail Jeweller on it previously. Here’s a link..
Public Transport and Cycle Scheme
A quick win for you and your team is to ditch the car and use public transport. As we are based in the centre of London and driving is a terrible option, that’s a reality rather than a choice. I apologise if you are reading this in a remote location and all you have is an hourly bus service. All of the team here use public transport (one coming all the way from Brighton) or run, skip, walk and cycle into work. Cyclescheme offers a great discount for employees to convert some of their tax into a bicycle. It's a low effort, high impact employee benefit that gets staff cycling with savings of 25-39% on bikes and accessories.
Electricity and Gas suppliers
We all know we should change our energy suppliers when it comes to the end of our contract. I now have an alarm in my diary as in previous years I’ve been tied into contracts because I forgot to renew when I was busy thinking about something else! Our current supplier claims that 47% of the energy we use comes from renewable sources – which for British Gas probably isn’t bad. We will switch to someone like Octopus next year when the contract comes up again - so we can be 100%.
Compostable Coffee Pods
Who knew that the convenience of the Nespresso machine meant we were filling the land with little plastic pods that cause great harm? Thankfully we have found many alternatives that are actually 100% compostable and give up to 2X more than Fairtrade to the growers. They taste great too so there’s no need to suffer a sub-standard coffee to do your bit to save the planet.
Packaging + Bags
I think this is one of the most difficult. We are in a luxury industry and presentation is hugely important. There are only a few customers who are happy with a substandard craft ring box or carrier bag that screams ethical but doesn’t leave them feeling spoilt. However, it is possible to find manufacturers who are offering a sustainable alternative and as a company, we are edging towards a solution. When choosing your packaging here are some options
that should be high on the list;
Water based inks
Our workshop team of six recently went to the Climate Strike in central London. It was a difficult decision for me as I was worried we were losing six days’ worth of work to go and sit in the park. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Being around the 100,000 or so marchers, young and old, was inspiring and the team came away with a renewed understanding of why we are trying to make a difference. As a business taking responsibility and stepping up is great in theory but when you get involved with others is making it feel much more real. As one of my team said, “It just makes you realise how it is actually affecting everyone, especially seeing so many young children”.
I don’t think it’s everyone’s job to save every part of the world, as long as we are passionate about the bit we want to save and thankful to others - who are passionate about theirs. In this way hopefully, we can all do something to make a difference.
Watch our video below to find out more about how EC One is being more responsible.