The Good Retail Awards 2020’s Sustainability Initiative Award recognised those who have implemented sustainability initiatives within their businesses. At a time where this is increasingly important to customers, the award looked to celebrate those introducing sustainable initiatives in the world of retail.
Wild About Flowers set out to make the necessary steps needed to offer a complete range of fresh floral gift products which could be delivered or collected. The aim of this was to ensure this process was free of single use plastics and plastic packaging, becoming an eco-friendly, sustainable business that is environmentally conscious.
Wild About Flowers spent significant time researching alternative solutions for non-sustainable products in the market. They faced the challenge of making sure their costs did not increase in order to develop more sustainable packaging. They have dramatically reduced the amount of plastic used in their business, saving almost a tonne of plastic every year by eliminating cellophane floral wrapping and all single use plastics. Other initiatives include encouraging customers to reuse and recycle, as well as working closely with local suppliers to reduce their carbon footprint further.
The award-winning strategy
Modern Retail spoke to Ivy of Wild About Flowers about their journey to developing a more sustainable approach, using changing trends to shape the way their business works.
Ivy spoke about the initial desire to create a more sustainable way of working: “It all began when I went on maternity leave. After 6 months out, when I went back to work, I really realised what was changing in our culture in terms of focusing on wellbeing and eco-friendly initiatives. I felt like in that time, even although we already had plenty of great initiatives in place, that we were almost out of date. So much had changed in this time; everything was on Instagram, people were sharing their stories and it was all about sustainability.
“I felt we really needed to focus on our biggest product, our gift bouquets, and hone in on the sustainability side of things even more. I then presented what I thought we should focus on and it’s taken two years of work to get to where we are today.”
Ivy explained that customers’ approaches to sustainability are continuing to change and much of this comes down to celebrating positive practices while educating customers: “The reception when it comes to sustainability is still mixed, but we’re seeing it a lot more. We even find it with things like plastic bags… some see it as an inconvenience that we don’t offer them, whereas others see it as a great thing, so it’s all about highlighting the reasons to our customers. The culture still exists where people want the same things they’ve always had without thinking about the reasons behind the change. It’s been great for us to see how our customers have reacted to us becoming more sustainable with our products, packaging and suppliers and it’s been a great talking point as people have loved the background story behind what we’re doing. Online, we do mention aspects of what we’re doing and when we launch the new packaging fully, we’ll work with a photographer and really go behind the scenes, making sure everyone can read about what we’re doing and learn more.
“It’s important to say we’re a family business with strong principles. We’ve made sustainable changes, explaining that we’re more than just a flower shop and we want to drive that instore experience, getting people back instore and learning about what small businesses are doing within the communities.”
The process of changing materials is no easy task. Ivy explained the process of transitioning into new ways of working: “We’ve completely changed all the packaging we used to use, really focusing on this in the last year, so no non-reusable plastics are being used. Our real initiative was to change our online collection and what they can buy instore to create the same options using sustainably sourced materials.
“The process of completely changing everything has taken around two years, so financially you have the strain of either replacing or disposing of what you’re already using, so the gradual changeover is hard. You have to trial products to make sure they’ll work. With peak times such as wedding season, Christmas and Valentine’s Day, you have so many focuses.
“Talking with people as much as you can has been really helpful. We had suppliers who guided us on the types of machines we needed, and this is because we just asked them questions and tapped into their knowledge. When you do something like this, you open yourself up to working with people you’ve never worked before so you find yourself trying to research and find new suppliers where you used to just buy it with ease when you haven’t done this before. It’s been a hard but very enjoyable process and you have a real sense of achievement when you finally implement the solution which you’ve worked so hard to create.
“Cost has been a huge involvement in why we’ve chosen what we’re doing, it’s always been a deciding factor and if you dedicate your time and get the right people on board to do the right thing, there are options out there if you just ask for advice and ask other businesses where you can find it. It’s also a matter of trying to find businesses that are great but don’t necessarily have a presence on the online world, so networking and going back to old school ways works. Once we’ve done this, we’ve bulk ordered for the year, so it’s not as time consuming.”
On winning the Sustainability Initiative Award
Ivy commented on her experience: “It’s great to be recognised for the hard work we’re doing with Wild About Flowers. It’s easy to be intimidated when it comes to entering awards and the Good Retail Awards really appealed to us because we’re so into our sustainable initiatives and to see you could be recognised for this and share your story was great. The reception has been really good – we have the award up in our store and have had a lot of support from other businesses on the High Street hearing about it. We posted it up online and we’re getting loads of congratulations and positive comments. We also did an interview with our local radio station and it’s been great to really celebrate the High Street and shout about the great work we’re doing locally.
To see the full list of Good Retail Awards winners, click here.