As of this week, our beautiful startup has been awarded Plastic Free status by charity Surfers Against Sewage! This charity is based in Cornwall, England, and is active in marine conservation and beach clean ups. We received our wooden plaque this week and feel very proud to be acknowledged for the work we have already done, and encouraged to be a part of a community of small UK businesses that are working with similar ethics, who we can learn so much from. We are newcomers, so we always try to learn as much as possible.
The Plastic Free award is given to small and medium sized businesses by a local Plastic Free Community. Many communities have been set up around the UK, all associated with SAS but all run independently and by volunteers, and you can contact your nearest one for support in how to go plastic free as a business or how to set up your own community and organise park clean ups or events.
As part of the process, we went though a ‘plastic audit’ of absolutely everything we use, sell, and receive, and we received a Business Toolkit to help us. Some businesses will have really obvious plastic culprits, such as shops and food businesses, but others are more obscure to identify. We identified:
- How we receive orders from suppliers, whether it be fabric or office supplies
- How we send orders: packaging, stickers, tape?
- The tools we use for the practical side of our business: scissors, tape measures, pens, rulers?
- The presence of plastic in the products we sell (including micro plastics in synthetic fibres)
- The surroundings of our business: water bottles on photoshoots? A habit of take away food or drinks? Do we have plastic bags at events? Plastic garment hangers or rails at events?
Plastic free haberdashery: metal zips with GOTS-organic cotton tape
So it’s not just the product that you sell; it’s also the way you operate your business. We identified that the hardest part for us to control is how we receive orders from suppliers, but we also came up with some ideas on how we can change that. We prioritise getting office supplies from a company like Green Office, so ordering from another eco business will usually eliminate any plastic, but our fabrics come wrapped in plastic from our printers to protect them from water and dirt. If you have a relationship with your suppliers, you might be able to work something out together that can eliminate receiving plastic into your business.
This scheme is open to small and medium sizes businesses and it’s free to apply. All it takes is your time to identify your current plastic use and key focus points for how you can slowly move away from plastic. It’s really worth it and it’s so rewarding if you have chosen the sustainable path, as it’s not always the easiest path.