Founded in 1987, Riverford has always put purpose before profit, growing and supplying organic veg to help people and planet. Its commitment to the environment extends to its packaging too, with the business committed to using minimal amounts of plastic – and only to avoid food waste. As far as possible, it uses paper and card over plastic, delivering its veg in reusable cardboard boxes that are sent out many times before they’re recycled. In fact, its set veg box uses 82 percent less plastic packaging than buying the equivalent organic veg from the supermarket.
By 2020, it will have also made the bold move of switching to home compostable alternatives for all fresh produce. The new packaging it’s developing is derived from renewable materials, is sustainably sourced, and will break down quickly in any home compost or veg caddy. “We are developing our own home-compostable cellulose-based packaging in-house, which breaks down to just carbon dioxide and water in 12 weeks,” says Riverford’s Guy Singh-Watson. Alternatively, customers will be able to send packaging back to Riverford with their box, where it’ll be composted on the farm.
City to Sea
City to Sea is a campaigning organisation that aims to stop plastic pollution - from city to sea. The not-for-profit has run a variety of high-profile, award-winning campaigns to help curb our reliance on single-use plastics. Its #SwitchTheStick campaign convinced all major UK retailers to only sell cotton buds with biodegradable paper stem buds, preventing more than 478 tonnes of single-use, non-recyclable plastic being created every year. Then there’s Plastic-Free Periods, a campaign launched in 2017 which encourages people to switch to plastic-free menstrual products, for the good of the ocean, our bodies and our wallets.
Perhaps its most well-known campaign is Refill, a nationwide campaign that has seen over 20,000 businesses across the UK add themselves as ‘Refill Stations’, where members of the public can drop in and fill up reusable bottles and cups with free water. We’ll raise a glass (of water) to that!
Triodos customer Better Food operates three independent shops and cafes across Bristol that offer organic, ethical and local food and products. “Our entire business is founded on the principal of ‘treading lightly’, being as sustainable as we can in everything we do,” says Phil Haughton, founder of Better Food.
At its St Werburgh’s store alone it sells over 100 packaging-free products, ranging from bread to frozen berries. In its deli fridges, it’s phasing out bioplastic pots – which are tricky for people to recycle at home – in favour of RPET, recycled material that customers can easily dispose of. In its cafes it encourages customers to bring take-away receptacles – cups, tubs and lunchboxes. It charges customers who opt for takeaway cups and donates the profits to the Soil Association (another Triodos customer). It’s proud to be one of the UK’s Refill Stations too. Why not stop by if you’re ever in Bristol?
Neal’s Yard Remedies
Neal’s Yard Remedies is something of a trailblazer when it comes to reducing single-use plastics in our bathrooms. From its inception, it has never used microbeads in products and opted for natural exfoliating ingredients, such as rosehip seeds, instead. It’s dedication to cutting out microbeads goes above and beyond, with the business campaigning alongside Greenpeace and Fauna & Flora International to #BanTheBead. Neal’s Yard Remedies also uses its distinctive glass bottles and jars for products, except for where weight and safety considerations require plastic.
The business is keen to encourage its customers to reduce single-use plastic. It was the first national company to offer free water refills in their stores across the UK as part of the Refill Scheme. This month, it launched its new recycling scheme, where you can now drop sample sachets, facial wipe packages, superfood pouches, atomisers and pumps from any brand off at any Neal’s Yard Remedies store to be recycled. It’s looking to the future too – committing to all its plastic bottles being 100% recyclable by 2025.
Unicorn Grocery is an independent wholefood store in south Manchester and a workers’ co-operative. It aims to use as little plastic as possible but admits that this is sometimes an unavoidable option. Still, it has plastic-free options for those who opt for them. It is known for selling minimally -packaged dry goods and loose fresh produce, and offers many reusable products as well. Customers are given the option of transporting purchases home in their owntubs, flasks, reused cardboard boxes and wooden crates, or cotton jute bags. Unicorn Grocery has introduced a clothbag and soup cup deposit scheme to help with those unplanned shopping trips.