6 December 2022
Most people think sustainability means using recycled and recyclable packaging,- and yes, it is important, but there is so much more to consider! We operate from a warehouse where we have installed air-source heat pumps for heating. It means that unless we have extreme weather (and the last couple of days have been a bit extreme..), the temperature is pleasant, products are kept free of condensation, and energy bills are kept low. A win-win situation all round, except when it is very cold, when we just have to wear extra jumpers and gloves.
We have also invested in a cardboard mulcher, this lovely machine means that we can recycle boxes that come in with our deliveries, and make packaging for our products - that is, when the cardboard isn't being used as a weed-suppressant or part of a Hugelkultur mound (mixed results with those this year, if you're interested)
We try to recycle the boxes that products are delivered in- if they are clean and sound then it makes sense to give them extra life by using them more than once. This is why you may find your items packaged in branded boxes, and we also re-use plastic bags and plastic bubble-wrap that suppliers send to us- while feeding back that we would prefer them to use more sustainable packaging, and in some cases looking for alternative suppliers.. This is another aspect of the sustainability journey- working with suppliers who have the same values as we do. It's hard to believe, but only a few years ago (I'm talking pre-Amazon here), there was so much more plastic used for packaging. These days, it is the norm to see paper filler and compostable chipples, so the message is being heard and positive change has already happened. There are so many innovations- even a paper based bubble-wrap alternative now, called hive-wrap, it uses interlocking hexagon cuts to make a 3D shape to cushion delicate objects.
Our main bottles continue to be our grey bottles made of fully recycled plastic and we have recently transitioned to a fully recycled plastic 1 litre bottle for our Neem Oil. This year a new Plastic Tax has meant that our suppliers are taxed on bottles containing less than 30% recycled plastic- and while this will create a greater market and impetus to recycle plastics, it has also meant higher pricing...as the tax is inevitably passed on to us. Our new Neem Therapy range uses glass jars and bottles and urea-based lids (these are biodegradable), and we will be using more aluminium bottles and lids this year.
Some of our initiatives haven't quite worked- paper labels work well on powder bottles and salves, but sadly failed on the shampoos and conditioners as the paper swells, wrinkles and ultimately doesn't deliver for products that are going to be in or near water much of the time.. we will continue to research and experiment! We really do encourage re-use of the bottles- for example, the Billy No Mates tincture bottle and the pet shampoo, dusting powder, cream and conditioner bottles are all the same type- so once the contents are finished, they can be rinsed with warm soapy water and and then be spare bottles for the Neem Gardeners or Pet kits!
Together, we can make a difference!