Small Businesses with a Big Message
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Small Businesses with a Big Message

Welcome to #TRVSTLOVES. We curate news, ideas, and inspiration from across the world that demonstrate how real action can accomplish a positive social impact. We thought that during this cold month of February, in the middle of a pandemic, it was a good time to share some inspiring small businesses with a big message. We’re looking at a couple in particular that help to promote sustainable practices and encourage us to change our habits.

Reducing food waste in our own homes

Food Waste
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

In 2018 WRAP estimated that annual food waste in the UK (including households, hospitality, food manufacture, retail and wholesale sectors) was around 9.5 million tonnes.

It’s an unimaginable amount, isn’t it? These figures can feel pretty overwhelming, and it’s difficult to know what we, as individuals, can do about the industry as a whole. But rather than take on the world, is there a way to reduce our own food waste at home?

This was most likely the same question asked by Olio. They connect local neighbors and communities to share any surplus food, produce with a nearby sell-by date, or perhaps excess veg from an allotment. Think of it a bit like the Facebook marketplace, but for food.

Olio believes the best way to make a change is to start small, and with eco-anxiety on the rise, these initiatives help us feel like we are doing our bit.

Further Reading:

The full circle of menstrual products

Just over 100 years ago, women in Europe and North America used washable, homemade menstrual cloths whilst on their period. These were washed out and reused but were not considered to be particularly hygienic. Then, around the 1920s, disposable sanitary towels arrived, which eventually became the products that many of us still use today. If you’re interested in how menstrual products have evolved over time (like we were!) then check out this short history.

For a long time, no one really questioned the environmental impact of these products, they were, after all, considered to be more hygienic and convenient. But In the UK alone, disposable menstrual products made from 90% plastic, as well as their packaging, generated 200,000 tonnes of waste per year (data from 2018).

As we become more aware of our environment and the use of single-use plastics, companies have stepped up to tackle the problem, and actually, we’ve gone full circle as the use of cloth sanitary towels is now on the rise. Whilst it’s possible (and cheaper) to make your own, we also applaud the companies who are educating as well as selling their products, like Bloom and Nora and DAME.

Explore the world by bike

Explore the World by Bike
Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash

With so many of us using apps these days, it makes sense that many businesses are leaning towards this as the vehicle of choice to share their initiative with the world. Apps can be interactive and personalized, which suits how many of us choose to live our lives these days.

One such example is Bikemap, an interactive map for cyclists, where the user is given the ability to explore new cycling routes and has the ability to ride offline anywhere in the world. Bikemap says that over 4.5 million users have already helped to create the world's biggest cycling route, so clearly, the collaborative approach is rather appealing and will hopefully encourage others to do the same.

We love the idea, and actually, the app does a good job of supporting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals under the Sustainable Transport pledges, where the “transport sector will be playing a particularly important role in the achievement of the Paris Agreement.”

This initiative also got us thinking about the statistics of cycling in different countries and whether it is becoming a more prominent way of traveling. We all know that the Netherlands uses bicycles as a main method of transport, but we were pleased to see that Poland, Chile, Czech Republic, Luxembourg, and Sweden all increased by 10% usage between 2017 and 2018.

Buying for a lifetime

How often do you buy something for life? Or perhaps we should say, how often do you buy something and expect it to last? Sadly, many products we buy don’t have a particularly long shelf life. Think about how many umbrellas you’ve owned in a lifetime, or even how many toasters or kettles. It’s likely you’ve had to replace these items at least once, if not multiple times. But trying to research something that’s good quality can be difficult, can’t it?

This is why Buy Me Once is brilliant because they’ve done the hard work for us. Their key message is to “Only buy things once. Love things that last” and they’re looking to simplify and revolutionize the way many of us shop. The concept is simple, they research and then sell only long-lasting, high-quality products. They also offer warranties on many of their items to help to counter our consumer-driven throw-away culture.

Further Reading:

The self-imposed Earth tax company

Photo by Samuel Chenard on Unsplash

We’re a big fan of the clothing company Patagonia, who aren’t afraid of doing things a little differently. Visit their site, and you’ll see the usual “shop” tab, but you’ll also see an “activism” page as well. The company clearly isn't afraid to tackle some of the big issues out there, from environmental issues, and racism, to oil drilling.

You see, we’re all starting to expect more from the businesses we buy from, particularly when it comes to being ethical, and transparent. Many consumers are now calling for sustainability transformation, and companies like Patagonia are already ahead of the curve.

We particularly loved their self-imposed Earth tax, where they “give” 1% of sales to the planet, providing support to environmental nonprofits. With many clothing brands having a large presence on social media as well, it’s easy to see how these businesses will continue to gain support as they position themselves as ethical organizations with something important to say. What’s also very encouraging is that, in time, competitors are going to have to up their own game and bring their own sustainable and ethical principles to the table.

By Sam Colyer, BA.

Sam produces our regular #TRVSTLOVES where she seeks out inspiration, news, and ideas from across the globe that both highlight and celebrate how actions can make for social and environmental change.

Sam is passionate about seeking out small businesses that are implementing remarkable and exciting projects to tackle the climate crisis; she enjoys exploring how their innovation will help change the future of our world.
A degree in English Literature from the University of Southampton has given Sam the research expertise to share and contextualize stories around innovative projects, legislation, and changemakers.

Main Photo by Jocke Wulcan on Unsplash
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