How many brands out there are actually sustainable and not just greenwashing? Some brands simply switch their marketing to reflect the consumer desire for eco-friendly products rather than genuinely improving their processes and products to improve the sustainability of their manufacturing and supply lines.
We take a look at some Great British Brands that are refashioning their entire business methods to create more ethical and sustainable products and services. Many are new brands that create products from the ground up aiming to be 100% carbon-free and sustainable, using non-polluting and recycled materials. Brands that look at the long term and their effect on the world.
It all boils down to cost, as bio-degradable plastics, sustainable and recycled materials are readily available. The cost to the environment needs to be factored into every purchase, rather than companies profiting off polluting our world and increasing climate damage.
Governments everywhere should be taxing pollution so that the economy balances to create a fairer system that incorporates all these costs, making eco-products more affordable than cheap polluting products.
Great companies don't simply jump on the bandwagon but build an ethos into the brand itself. A culture that rewards employees for doing what is right for their clients and the world. Providing a safe and healthy workplace, checking that suppliers are doing the same and paying a decent living wage.
Cultural changes that pervade the entire company and reward responsibility to protect our environment as much as profit. Pollution cannot be accepted, no materials should be wasted, but completely used and re-used, energy expenditure minimised where possible, natural materials employed at all times and items restored rather than simply thrown away. Making products that last a lifetime with care.
It is not even that difficult, it just takes a mindset that includes the cost to the environment in the cost of manufacture and putting our most valuable resource, the planet, first. Our environment must come before profit, but there are simple ways to make polluting companies unprofitable. As buyers, we can send a very strong message that we desire products that benefit us and our world.
Buy products that are natural, recyclable and come in non-polluting packaging. It may have started with plastic bags, but we can do so much more. In the end, we build our own paradise or destroy it.
Of note is B Corps, so-named as there is no Plan B or Planet B. This is all we have. A non-profit organisation that grades companies on their social and environmental performance. Essentially B Corps offers an impact assessment form online and issues a certificate to those companies that achieve a particular level of corporate, social and environmental targets. So that you, the consumer, can make an informed decision. The average company scores around 50, whilst over 80 qualifies for B Corp Certification.
Here are some of our favourite Great British Brands breaking new ground in sustainability and succeeding brilliantly in many different fields.
BrewDog is making waves in the brewing industry as the world’s first carbon-negative brewery. They believe carbon is their problem, so they remove all of their emissions at The BrewDog Forest, near their home in the Scottish Highlands. Their workers are the heart of their business so they give 10% of their profits every year to their staff.
Coutts and Company have set a target to halve the level of carbon intensity of their discretionary portfolios and funds by the end of 2030 and reach net zero emissions across all Assets under Management by the end of 2050. They acquired £220m of the first-ever issue of UK green gilts in 2021; £120m on 21 September and £100m on 21 October. Proceeds from the issuance are earmarked solely to be invested in environmentally beneficial projects.
Bookshop.org is an online bookshop with a mission to financially support local, independent bookshops. Choose a specific bookshop to support, pick from their map and they’ll receive 30% of the cover price (or almost all of the profit) on orders for a year. Otherwise, 10% of the cover price of the order will contribute to an earnings pool that will be evenly distributed among participating independent bookshops each month.
Mishcon de Reya is a prestigious law firm that employs a diverse range of people, proactive in driving change and continuous improvement across the spectrum of equity, diversity and inclusion. In 2020 they launched Mishcon Purpose, a first-of-its-kind sustainability practice providing environmental, social and governance (ESG) advice and purpose-driven insight to clients.
The Bruichladdich Distillery produce three excellent whiskies: Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte and Octomore single malt and The Botanist Islay dry gin. Based on the remote Hebridean Island of Islay their four key pillars of sustainability are agriculture & biodiversity, packaging & waste, Islay & community, and energy. They want to decarbonise distillation and be completely traceable and transparent by 2025.
Pala Eyewear employ the very best materials such as bio-acetate (100% biodegradable) for their frames and more eco-friendly lenses (39% renewable source). They unite their sales in grants to vision centres, dispensaries and screening programmes across Africa, including a Ghanaian NGO to support female weaving communities in Bolgatanga that make the recycled sunglasses cases.
Fenton Jewellery selects the top 5% of gemstones and oversee the whole supply chain themselves, sourcing only from world leaders in ethical mining.
Finistere launched a decade ago from the needs of hardy British surfers. They design functional and sustainable outdoor clothes from biodegradable and recycled materials such as Biosmock and pure British merino wool. The entire range only uses organic cotton that requires 71% less water and 62% less energy to grow. They also offer a Lived and Loved repair service to extend the life of their products.
Elvis and Kresse are leaders in the field of sustainable manufacturing. They design bags and homeware from a range of waste materials, particularly decommissioned firehoses that otherwise went to landfill. 50% of Elvis & Kresse's profits are donated to charities related to their raw materials and 50% of their profits from the fire hose range go to The Fire Fighters Charity. The team reclaims more than 12 different materials and has saved over 300 tonnes of material from landfill. They are now teaming up with leading fashion brands such as Burberry to help them reclaim and avoid waste. Look no further for a company that leads by example.