As I think I've said before, 2020 was a real year of reflection for us, Junior Edition celebrated it's 5th birthday (socially distanced and in lockdown naturally) and we were able to look back at our metamorphosis from a tiny online business to one that has grown to include a beautiful bricks and mortar shop in Brighton's vibrant North Laine area together with a warehouse distribution centre just along the coast in Newhaven.
With the operational side of things now flowing well, we wanted to start making some real in-roads to our dream of becoming a fully sustainable business and whilst 2021 has already thrown us some all-consuming challenges (Brexit, I'm looking at you) it has made us all the more determined, not only to ride out this latest storm, but to build a better, more sustainable business too.
At the beginning of this year we started to seriously explore environmentally friendly alternatives to polythene mailing bags with a view to moving towards the exclusive use of recyclable paper and cardboard for shipping. We began experimenting with products that were able to combine environmental credentials with durability and water resistance (which proved to be no short task as a result of a national paper shortage) but we did eventually find a product that ticked ALL of our boxes. I am delighted to say that we have now moved across to using sustainable paper bags and cardboard boxes for all of our shipments as well as, where possible, re-using boxes and packaging from supplier shipments for large and heavy items. We use an environmental alternative to polypropylene and PVC tape to seal all packaging that is produced from sustainable Kraft paper and any replacement garment bags we might need to use are made from a recyclable plastic.
Our current 'paper mission' is to find a cost-efficient recycled paper supplier. Having explored the possibility of becoming paperless and reduced our consumption in areas where it is possible, it is unfortunately not viable for us to go completely paperless at this time. though It is an area that we will continue to review of course and we are committed to pulling back on usage wherever and whenever possible.
In 2017 we opened our bricks and mortar store in the heart of Brighton’s North Laine and since that time have not sent any waste to landfill. We use Paper Round to handle all of our waste. They take great care to maximise the environmental value of our recycling, using multiple UK and European based waste plants that either recycle the waste material into new, valuable products or incinerate to generate energy.
When we expanded into our warehouse space in Newhaven's Enterprise Zone back in 2019 we intentionally sought out premises that would be energy efficient. Our unit there is purpose-built and super-insulated reducing the need to heat or cool and both the warehouse in Newhaven and physical shop in Brighton use Valda who provide electricity that is renewably sourced and has zero carbon emissions.
As an online retailer with significant global reach we are responsible for shipping parcels worldwide. Where possible, we rely on road delivery services but regrettably it is currently not commercially viable to bypass air travel altogether. In an effort to help off-set our carbon footprint and reduce our climate impact we recently introduced the option of donating to One Tree Planted at checkout. One Tree Planted is an environmental charity that plant trees around the world to help create a healthier climate, protect biodiversity and help reforestation efforts. Since its introduction on 7th December last year our customers have donated a staggering 659 trees which is nothing short of wonderful and brings a smile to my face with every single order!
We are also making efforts to positively influence consumer buying practices to help tackle the climate crisis and kindly ask for our customers to consider the accumulation of air-miles when placing orders. A practice I am admittedly guilty of resorting to myself in the past, is to buy an item in several sizes with the intention of only keeping whichever best suits or fits but in more recent years I have tried hard to be more conscious of what I buy and how I shop. We now have a dedicated customer service team in place who can help measure items and offer expert advice before purchasing in order to help reduce the volume of items that might otherwise need to be sent back to us and we are already noticing a significant reduction in the volume of returns that we are processing . If you ever need sizing guidance or help of any kind please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll do our very best to come back to all questions within one working day.
Sustainability is essential for the ecological, social and economic environment and we have always tried to make considered choices from purchasing through to packaging. As our journey continues, so does our education. We are whole-heartedly committed to creating a brighter future and work with people and brands that we know share the same vision.
We have also been adapting our buying practices and shifting focus to supporting small volume artisan produced brands as well as our popular high-volume names and always work with manufacturers that are transparent about their production methods. We are delighted to work with brands that are pioneers in bringing environmentally friendly versions of existing fabrics to market, manufacturers with strict organic credentials and companies that insist on fair payment for normal working hours in safe conditions throughout the supply chain.
Our journey is far from over and we still have much to learn and improve upon. We are always open to suggestions so if you have any, please don't hesitate to drop us a line so we can work together to build a better future.