Modern Retail

GRA Sustainability Initiative Award Shortlist Announced

Sustainability Initiative Award

Entries to the Sustainability Initiative category of the 2021 Good Retail Awards have showcased many impressive examples of retailers using innovation to succeed in what has been an incredibly challenging year.

We would like to take the time to say thank you to all who entered. The number of inspirational stories shared by so many retailers made it a privilege (and a real challenge!) to narrow them down to the final shortlist.

The Sustainability Initiative Award recognises retailers that have successfully implemented sustainability initiatives within their business.

Modern Retail is delighted to announce the official shortlist for the Good Retail Awards’ Bricks ‘n’ Clicks Award.

The shortlist is as follows:

Small Stuff UK

Small Stuff UK strives to stock the finest products from traceable, sustainable and ethical suppliers. Becoming the first children’s store in the UK to be certified by The Planet Mark, Small Stuff has become a trusted and eco-friendly brand offering sustainable products, as well as promoting many sustainable initiatives in the way they run their business.

Working closely with suppliers has enabled Small Stuff to give customers clear, insightful messages to easily understand. They have requested for suppliers to make more eco-friendly changes, such as removing plastic packaging and replacing this with cardboard. Their work with Ecologi has seen Small Stuff’s customers plant over 2,200 trees, resulting in a carbon reduction of more than 9.36T, by planting one tree for every £25 or more order online or instore.

Small Stuff’s approach to this initiative has been little and often, continuously improving practices, such as swapping to 100% renewable energy. Continuing their mission to be as environmentally and socially sustainable as possible, Small Stuff is set to implement a circular system of buying back high quality organic children’s clothing in return for money off new pieces instore, with the aim of becoming a zero waste, circular company by 2022.

Leaf and Ground

Leaf and Ground source local stock as often as possible, creating a sustainable approach through educating customers and providing the opportunity to recycle around the site and reduce plastic use, alongside many other innovative additions to their business.

Each department manager at Leaf and Ground has a commitment to recycling and low mileage, locally sourced, ethically produced products. This ethos is passed onto all members of their team, as well as sharing this messaging with customers through word-of-mouth and social media. Leaf and Ground’s sustainable initiatives are wide-ranging, including encouraging people to bring their own coffee cups to the takeaway coffee hut, also offering card cups with lids that are fully recyclable.

Leaf and Ground reuse items wherever possible, demonstrating extensive recycling throughout all areas of their site, as well as offering electric charge points in the car park. Putting everything to use has seen the garden shop reuse waste wood and even nails in their work, as well as reusing pallets, cardboard boxes and plant pots to cut down on the amount of retail packaging used. Customers have expressed their support for Leaf and Ground’s sustainable approach to retail, enjoying being able to lead a more sustainable lifestyle through their offering.

Pure Bundle

Pure Bundle helps parents to fight fashion waste, by selling preloved and past season capsule wardrobes that offer sustainability, convenience and affordability. Having launched during COVID, Pure Bundle set out to make the experience of shopping for preloved items so good, that it’s better than buying new. Encouraging circular fashion, Pure Bundle sends orders to customers in reusable packaging, encouraging parents to resell clothes back to them as well as encouraging local sourcing.

By reusing fashion that already exists, Pure Bundle encourages a lower carbon footprint, allowing customers to enjoy those that are already available, with there already being enough clothes on the planet for six generations. Carrying out ongoing customer research, they solve customers’ problems and are able to make capsule wardrobes aspirational and accessible.

Pure Bundle’s ‘less is more’ ethos has seen the team engage in many founder and sustainability networks, continuously looking to improve aspects of their value chain, expanding their reach and spreading the word about sustainability.

Aesthetic Laundry

Aesthetic Laundry operates a ‘made to order’ business model to keep waste to a minimum. Cutting and sewing all of their garments in-house, they are acutely aware of the amount of fabric offcuts produced when creating clothing, which sees Aesthetic Laundry focus on waste reduction and utilising offcuts within existing and new collections.

Designing multiple ‘Zero Waste Fabric Projects’, Aesthetic Laundry ensured no scrap of fabric went to waste. Kids’ tassel jumpers were made from offcuts of adults’ jumpers, an 80-piece collection was designed and created utilising the end of rolls in the studio which could not be used in the main range and offcuts were used on necklines, or as ‘confetti’ on garments. In addition to this, Aesthetic Laundry sources as much fabric locally as possible, with 95% being sourced from within the UK to keep their carbon footprint low. Additional initiatives include using compostable mailing bags.

Aesthetic Laundry’s ongoing work has seen them not only reduce the waste that they produce, but to also improve the way they work with fabric to minimise this as much as possible. Their ‘made to order’ business model, in-house quality control and consideration to make every stage of the creation of clothing as sustainable as possible has created a loyal customer base and social media following.

True Vintage

True Vintage has overhauled their internal practices, from delivery to sourcing, as well as partnering with innovative businesses like Ecologi to create a strong sustainability ethos that sits at the core of their brand. The True Vintage inspired range sees t-shirts made from organic cotton, manufactured locally to reduce the impact of transit, and produced to a high standard to create longer-lasting clothes.

As a small retail business with global reach, True Vintage continuously looks to set more ambitious sustainability initiatives. Over the last year, the brand has doubled its vintage sales, saving over 100,000 items from landfill. For every order made through True Vintage, they plant a tree through Eden Reforestation projects in Madagascar, also offsetting employee emissions by donating to a climate positive workforce fund. Working with couriers that are invested in reducing carbon emissions, True Vintage have put considerable time and effort into making every stage of a customer’s journey as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible.

Their key customer audience is the next generation, with True Vintage seeing themselves as being responsible for raising awareness around sustainable fashion and the environmental impact of fast fashion, fighting to ensure sustainable practices become the norm.

Harts of Stur

Already recycling over 300 tonnes of wooden pallets, cardboard, plastic, metal and electrical items each year, Harts of Stur were keen to look at other areas of the business that could be made more sustainable and eco-friendly. This saw them undertake a project to re-think every aspect of their business to become more eco-friendly.

Sending thousands of orders each week, Harts of Stur began reusing boxes and cartons that they received from suppliers, using these to ship orders to their customers, drastically reducing the number of boxes that need purchasing throughout the year, and buying any additional boxes required from a local supplier. Sourcing a 100% biodegradable alternative to polystyrene chips, they utilise Eco Flo loose fill, which is not only made in an eco-friendly way, but can also be composted or added into food recycling. To make customers aware, they included a postcard full of disposal information, to make sure they knew how to keep the process as sustainable as possible. Installing LED lighting, an air source heat pump system and solar panels has enabled Harts of Stur to reduce their carbon footprint.

Additional projects have included phasing out plastic carrier bags and replacing them with environmentally friendly alternatives, joining the water refill scheme, installing a milk vending machine and using biodegradable netting on Christmas trees, adding to their list of eco-friendly initiatives. 

The English Soap Company

Since it began 20 years ago, The English Soap Company’s philosophy has been to recycle and reuse as much as possible, as well as reducing their carbon footprint and impact on the planet year-on-year. As well as making sustainable, ethical products that are fully recyclable and long lasting, they have reinvented their packaging to make their business as efficient and environmentally friendly as possible, through a number of fantastic initiatives.

A shift to online sales, both direct to consumer and wholesale meant The English Soap Company had record-breaking sales in the run up to Christmas 2020. Requiring more packaging for shipping and wrapping, they set out to find a way to limit the use of packaging. This was done by engaging with staff and getting them on board with this sustainable ethos, involving them in tackling waste. In addition to this, The English Soap Company tasked their technical and product development teams to design products that require less packaging, as well as looking at the use of thinner and lighter cardboard for items that can’t be wrapped in paper and ensuring packaging is as efficient and minimal as possible.

Through further sustainable ways of working, including employing local people to reduce the environmental impact of travel, making products on the premises from raw materials and sourcing ingredients that have a low impact on the environment, The English Soap Company continues to inspire customers, staff and businesses alike.

For more information on the Good Retail Awards, click here.

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Holly Worthington

Holly brings a wealth of experience in both print and digital publishing. As Modern Retail's Content Editor, Holly is passionate about helping independent retailers to thrive in today's ever-changing market.