The sustainability Initiative category of the Good Retail Awards set out to find retailers that have successfully implemented sustainability initiatives within their business.
Last year’s winners, Wild About Flowers, set the bar high with their eco-friendly, sustainable and environmentally conscious approach. Phasing single use plastics and plastic packaging out of their business, they sourced effective alternatives that were beneficial for the environment, as well as customers.
Following on from the success of last year’s awards, this year saw retailers enter from far and wide, sharing their fantastic sustainability initiatives and inspirational stories, despite the challenges brought about by COVID-19. Those that were shortlisted were able to demonstrate their sustainable initiatives, as well as the impact of these on the environment.
The Good Retail Awards’ panel of judges went through the shortlist for the Sustainability Initiative category, looking for new and creative approaches to sustainability, as well as stakeholder engagement and business decisions that have long-term benefits for the planet.
The Sustainability Initiative Award winner – 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. 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.
Outlining the scale of this task, Jon from Harts of Stur said: “One thing we found particularly challenging was to help customers understand that what we put in our packaging isn’t polystyrene chips. The cost implications of the building work to be more eco-friendly were partially funded by Low Carbon Dorset, which was a major help. Social media has helped a lot for us to share our sustainable initiatives, as well as our blog and website showcasing the environmentally friendly packaging.”
The need to change attitudes towards sustainability was highlighted by Jon, saying: “I think it’s expected more now. We’re hearing more about it in the media and it’s vital to have these things in place, so you have to build that in when you’re planning anything, whether it’s a building update or what you do next. You can’t ignore things like this anymore.”
Their wide-ranging approach to making Harts of Stur as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible has had a fantastic reception from customers. Jon explained: “Customers are posting about what we’re doing on social media, which is spreading awareness and reaching potential customers. Word of mouth means people are finding out about what we’re doing which is brilliant.”
Being able to have such a functional and sustainable business model has seen Harts of Stur go from strength to strength in the past year. Jon added: “Everybody started baking in lockdowns and we were at peak from last March onwards. We kept the warehouse onsite fulfilling orders with a few tweaks to make sure everybody was socially distanced. It’s not stopped since!”
The Good Retail Awards judges praised Harts of Stur for their dedication to continuously becoming a more eco-friendly business, with Naeem Arif of NA Consulting commending them for “going the extra mile.”
Catherine Erdly, Founder of the Resilient Retail Club, said: “The team at Harts of Stur have put a lot of time and effort into investigating many different ways to reduce their impact on the environment.”
Julie Driscoll, UK Regional Director of Hyve Group plc (Spring Fair) added: “Harts of Stur are to be commended for making a significant change throughout their business. Looking at each stage of their supply chain, from manufacturer to how it lands on a customer’s doorstep, this is nothing short of a sustainable transformation of a 4th generation family business.”
Rob Gamage, Managing Director of Modern Retail commented: “Harts of Stur made a significant commitment to transition their business to a much more sustainable footing. They have looked at all elements of their business and made a huge effort to deliver real and lasting change.”
The Good Retail Awards 2021 shortlist highlighted retail businesses that are leading the way in their sustainability efforts. The calibre of entries was incredibly high this year, with the campaigns and creativity displayed making the judging process a real challenge.
The shortlist for the Sustainability Initiative award included:
Small Stuff UK
Small Stuff UK became the first children’s store in the UK to be certified by The Planet Mark, working closely with suppliers to make eco-friendly changes, as well as swapping to 100% renewable energy, using cardboard packaging. planting a tree for every order over £25 and working towards 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, providing the opportunity to recycle around the site and reduce plastic use. Other innovative initiatives include offering electric charge points in the car park and reusing pallets and cardboard boxes to cut down on packaging.
Pure Bundle help parents to fight fashion waste, by selling preloved and past season capsule wardrobes that offer sustainability, convenience and affordability. Using reusable packaging, encouraging parents to resell clothes back to them and supporting local sourcing, they encourage a lower carbon footprint with a ‘less is more’ ethos.
Aesthetic Laundry operates a ‘made to order’ business model, keeping waste to a minimum. Cutting and sewing all garments in-house, they are aware of the fabric offcuts produced, designing ‘Zero Waste Fabric Projects’ where no scrap of fabric goes to waste.
True Vintage has overhauled their internal practices, from delivery to sourcing, to create long lasting, high quality organic clothing, with their vintage sales saving more than 100,000 items from landfill. Offsetting carbon emissions and working with couriers that do the same, True Vintage’s ethos is raising awareness around sustainable fashion.
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 creating sustainable, ethical products that are recyclable and long lasting, they have reinvented their packaging to make their business as environmentally friendly as possible.
We’d like to thank everybody that entered the Good Retail Awards 2021. It’s been a pleasure to learn more about each and every entrant and we look forward to continuing to celebrate their successes in the coming months.
To read more about the Sustainability Initiative shortlist, click here.
Thanks again to all who have made the Good Retail Awards 2021 such a success. We’re proud to be part of a community that showcases the most inspirational and exciting initiatives in the industry. Congratulations again to Harts of Stur and we look forward to continuing to share the most innovative campaigns in the world of retail.
To find out more about the Good Retail Awards, and to keep up to date with the latest news, click here.
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.