Behind the Scenes

Restore Our Earth

After the past year, many of us have had time to reflect on what’s happening to our planet. During the first lockdown, many of us noticed how loud the birdsong was without the competition of traffic and aeroplanes, whilst the air we breathe became cleaner and sunsets seemed brighter as air pollution reduced.

 

We’ve become closer to the natural, wilder world through the sanctuary of our local parks, wild spaces and gardens – for many of us these have been a tonic for our mental wellbeing when times have been tough. In the quest to salve our mental health, gardening has boomed and wildlife has benefited as ponds, wildflower patches and bug hotels have been installed.

 

 

Whilst there have been many hotspots of hope, personally, there have been times when I have likewise been consumed with doubt about the future of the Earth and all its inhabitants – including us. I know I’m not alone, with many of us feeling the same. It’s even got a name; ‘eco-anxiety’. Seeing the grand total of the problems facing the world can feel overwhelming, especially when change from leaders seems snail-paced. Many of us are already, or want to take positive action into our own hands, which inevitably leads to the question:

 

“What can I do?”

 

There are many ways we can all make a difference, it might be starting off in smaller ways that work for you and your family, but everything counts and sometimes we just need an impetus to get started. So, April 22nd is Earth Day – it’s been happening since 1970 and this year the theme is ‘Restore our Earth’.

 

The Earth Day website has lots of useful information, including 51 ways we can help restore our Earth, meaning we can make a positive difference year-round.

 

As a natural health and beauty brand that puts the environment and sustainability at the forefront, I selected a few tips from the Earth Day list that resonated with us and are represented through our blue bottles. Hopefully they work for you too!

 

Switching to renewable energy

 

In 2005 we moved our HQ to Peacemarsh, in Dorset, UK, where we built a beautiful, award-winning eco-factory and offices. Everything about the space has sustainability at heart. We used environmentally friendly oak structural beams, untreated European larch cladding, grey water recycling in our bathrooms, 700m2 of solar panels clad the factory roof meaning we generate more than 5% of our own electricity, the remainder is topped up across the business with 100% UK sourced renewables. We have energy efficient air management and air-source heat pump systems to help ensure our carbon footprint is kept to a minimum. In fact, in 2008 we were the world’s first high street retailer to be certified CarbonNeutral®.

 

Reducing plastic waste

 

…is something we’re constantly working towards. We prioritise our iconic blue glass whenever possible to keep our carbon footprint down, except for situations when it may be unsafe, like the shower and bath. We’ve made a commitment to use only 100% recycled plastic bottles by 2025 and are almost there with all 100ml and 200ml bottles already PCR (Post-Consumer Recycled) plastic. Even our herb bags are compostable, they may look like plastic but are made of FSC certified wood pulp. Speaking of which, if you’re buying herbs in store, why not bring along your own container, as long as it’s clean and dry we’ll happily use that for you instead. What about the packaging that can’t be roadside recycled? You can bring components like pumps, atomisers and sachets into store and we’ll send them off to a specialist recycling company that deconstruct and recycle. We’ll even take the same items from other brands for you – just not glass!

 

Ditch the print

A new project for us this year has been to bring our paper catalogue online. Our digital catalogues can be hosted on our website and sent out by email saving on postage and helping to protect trees. As for paper and card that we continue to use for packaging – we work with the World Land Trust to Carbon Balance our product cartons and gift boxes, helping protect vulnerable forests, threatened habitats and wildlife around the world.

 

Choose organic

 

We prefer to work with nature, rather than against it. Looking for the Soil Association or COSMOS logos on food and beauty gives you peace of mind that a lot of environmentally friendly hard work has gone on behind the scenes. By choosing certified organic, you’re doing a lot to help not only your own wellbeing but also supporting the planet’s biodiversity, including pollinators, the farmers and their communities. Thankfully, it also means you put less harmful ingredients down the drain every time you shower or bathe.

 

We’ve worked with the Soil Association since 1991, introduced the UK’s first certified organic skincare range in 2002, and today we’re delighted that over 90% of our agricultural ingredients are certified organic.

 

The Soil Association logo says no to the following:

 

  • Animal testing
  • Genetic Modification (GM)
  • Controversial chemicals like herbicides and synthetic fertilisers
  • Parabens and phthalates
  • Synthetic colours, dyes or fragrances
  • Nano particles

And more importantly, says yes to the following:

 

  • Higher levels of antioxidants (up to 60%)
  • Sustainably sourced organic ingredients
  • Transparent manufacturing processes
  • Biodegradable ingredients
  • Minimal packaging with maximum recycled content
  • Protecting wildlife and biodiversity

If you’re like us and love wildlife in all shapes and sizes, then choosing to garden organically is an easy step to take.

 

 

Protecting pollinators

 

Looking after pollinators is close to our hearts, we created our first Bee Lovely product ten years ago to help raise awareness of the plight of the pollinators and you helped us campaign to ban neonicotinoids, a common pesticide linked to bee death.

 

Every year since then, we’ve donated 3% of our profits from the Bee Lovely collection to bee charities around the world. We worked on a great project with Bees for Development, where they introduced bee colonies into cashew orchards in Ghana to boost harvests after low yields were found to be a result of poor pollination. Our aim was to support 50 million bees by 2020 (that’s about 1000 hives). The great news is that we achieved our goal early and with extra hives on top. This unique project benefited both bee populations and farmers and the results were staggering, with yields doubling and farmers earning valuable additional income from honey.  This year, we’re thrilled to be working with the UK-based charity The Bumblebee Conservation Trust, so keep your eyes peeled for more positive news.

 

 

So, there are a lot of positives you can do in your garden, whatever its size. From gardening without the use of harmful pesticides, planting pollinator-friendly plants, putting in a pond, leaving a patch of your garden to re-wild and composting to reduce food waste and lock in carbon. What a wonderfully enjoyable way to make a difference, benefiting the planet and soul simultaneously.

 

Eat less meat

We’re proud to be a vegetarian company, endorsed by Cruelty Free International – many of our staff are either plant-based or vegetarian, and this is one of the best things you do to make a positive change. Whether it’s starting off with Meat Free Mondays, reducing your meat and fish consumption or ditching meat and fish completely, this is an easy step that you alone can make.

 

On a final note, Earth Day this year is asking us to ‘get plogging’ (that’s picking up litter whilst jogging), for a Great Global Cleanup. Now I’m not a fan of jogging but do like a good forest walk. I had seen a patch of litter that I wanted to clean up but when I got there, I was delighted to see that someone else had beaten me to it – amazing how the smallest of things makes your heart sing. So, I guess the motto of this is, that if individually we all do everything we can, imagine the huge difference we can make together.

Tipper Lewis, Brand Ambassador



Tipper Lewis

Tipper Lewis

Writer and expert

I’m a qualified Naturopathic Herbalist and have worked at Neal’s Yard Remedies for 20 years – in our stores, as Head of Training, and most recently as a Brand Ambassador. Outside of work, I love nothing more than being out in the garden and growing my own veggies, herbs and flowers to support wildlife.