You may already know it but we dump over 8 million metric tonnes of plastic into the oceans every year (https://oceanconservancy.org/trash-free-seas/plastics-in-the-ocean/)
My Mini Geek wants to become a Marine Biologist when he’s older and Sir David Attenborough is his hero, so I began to think of ways I can reduce the amount of plastic at MGB HQ.
When I first started out, I was using plastic mailers, they were cheap and light but quite generic and didn’t really convey the “Boutique” aspect of Mini Geek. I wanted my customers to feel that effort had been put into each item and not just chucked into a mailer or jiffy bag.
On top of that these plastic mailers were just chucked away and would end up in the landfill where they could take up to 1000 years to decompose! (https://www.thebalancesmb.com/plastic-bag-controversy-2877892). I had to do something, so I started looking into more environmentally friendly ways of sending packages and how MGB can be more sustainable in the future.
There have been lots of campaigns(https://www.nakedcards.co.uk/) recently for businesses to be much more environmentally friendly and this can impact on the small business too.
I weighed up the pros and cons about using more paper and even though it can be slightly more expensive, the impact on the environment was more important to me. I even surveyed my customers and they agreed that it was worth paying just that little extra for a sustainable, recyclable product.
So this last year I have been slowly moving towards card/paper based packaging. I have used all the plastic packaging I previously had, so as not to waste it. And researched lots of ways of packaging items such as garments, prints, mugs and badges. I found that cardboard “Pizza style” boxes would be ideal. They come in a variety of sizes and most of them would fit within the “Large Letter” size for posting. Each item I send is wrapped in tissue paper or a paper bag, then sealed with glued paper tape.
Clothing small enough, such as the baby grows or t-shirts have their own sized boxes, but larger garments such as hoodies and sweaters and also the mugs are too big and bulky to send in these thin boxes, so what could I do use to send these? After some research I think I have found a solution: Eco bags that biodegrade within a few months. (https://reverteplastics.com/) this system appears to make the plastic biodegrade within natural light in a much faster way. You can read more about it here: https://reverteplastics.com/what_is_reverte.php
The mugs I make are sent in cardboard boxes and currently wrapped in plastic bubble wrap. The next process of reducing plastic for these is to find an alternative to the plastic bubble wrap. I’m thinking shredded paper or paper bubble wrap, I need to test the products with the packaging to make sure it’s suitable for my needs, but it looks promising.
Another aspect of becoming more eco-friendly are the products I create. Fashion has a massive impact on the environment, 85% of all textiles end up on landfill sites, the consumer is buying more garments but also throwing away more, the production process of these garments is having a devastating effect on the environment, using chemicals for dyes. Polyester, a plastic, is used in most items as it’s cheap to produce and use but releases 2 to 3 times more emissions than cotton. (https://www.businessinsider.com/fast-fashion-environmental-impact-pollution-emissions-waste-water-2019-10?r=US&IR=T#while-people-bought-60-more-garments-in-2014-than-in-2000-they-only-kept-the-clothes-for-half-as-long-2)
So what can I, I small business producing clothing in the middle of the UK, do to help reduce this impact? I’ve did a lot of research into sustainable clothing manufacturers and I was very lucky when my main supplier of items started offering Stanley/Stella, their products are not only organic, sustainable with a wide range of colours and products but they’re incredible to feel, the prints I use look amazing, they wash really well and are long lasting.
It doesn’t take a genius to realise that Stanley/Stella are the product to use. As well as Stanley/Stella I use Mantis World’s Babybugz range for the little geeks and AWDis for the cooltec range (I use these for PGP my other business).
What about printing though? I use vinyl and full colour transfers, whilst the vinyl is plastic based, I only use the minimal amount with as little waste as possible. I save all the small unused pieces for other items. I also use full colour transfer and sublimation print and recycle all the paper waste that produces.
I have even started using my car less, I use public transport or my bike, I use washable travel mugs for my coffee, we recycle as much as we can at home and at the studio.
I know I’m only a small brand, but if everyone did their bit then each small effort becomes a big effort collectively. I want to leave this planet in a better condition for my children and the future. What are you going to?