Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, which is such an important day to bring awareness to the simple changes you can make to help fight climate change.
This is something we are so passionate about, and although we are far from perfect, we realise that every little bit helps, and we move forward with the kaizen philosophy of moving forward with continuous changes. The change don't happen overnight, but small incremental steps forward can make a huge difference in a few months, or even a years time.
We thought we would share some ways in which we have made changes to our business as well as our personal lives.
1. Re-purpose & Repair as much as you can
Once you become mindful of this, you would be surprised how much you can find to repurpose and repair. I think most things have become so readily available that we sometimes forget to see if we have something that can be repurposed or repaired. We have the gift of being creative, so make sure you make this an enjoyable process, rather than something you are forced to do. Some of the items we love to repurpose include:
- Jars: we use them for storage in the studio and helps us keep things organized.
- Candle containers: we burn a lot of candles at home and at work. We love the candle holders from Botanical Candle Co. Not only are their candles, brand & ethos amazing, but their containers make the cutest storage jars afterwards. I love them for keeping spices, and hair clips and any small items we have in the studio.
- Boxes: we keep all of our delivery boxes to send out our larger orders. We carefully peel off the labels, and then reuse them and make sure we add special touches to the inside of the boxes
- Packaging peanuts & other types of fillers: we get a lot of deliveries, so we love to use up all the fillers they give us. We also purchase recycled kraft sizzlepak, as well as biodegradable starch peanuts, that can dissolve in water. (If you have kids, this is a great source of entertainment).
- Paper: we keep as many offcuts as we can, we use them for tags, belly bands to wrap products, and as promotional materials. We normally use our excess paper to create greeting cards, our thank you cards and anything else we can think of.
- Flowers: I like to dry out flowers, and use them to wrap gifts, add to bath salts and even as packaging. You can also try pressing flowers, our daughter absolutely loves to do this and gives us hours of fun making cards for her friends, and journaling where the flowers came from.
- Reusable packaging: when we created our own packaging, we wanted to find ways of making things reusable. So we created beautiful foiled quote cards with a thank you message on the reverse. So that card can be framed, or used in your office to brighten up your day. You can create your own HERE.
- Things to repair: don't just get rid of something because it's damaged. Our marble coffee table broke recently and instead of going to the nearest Ikea to get another one, we decided we will try the art of Kintsugi, which is the japanese art of repairing broken pottery. We can patch it back together, and then it has a little story, a memory of the fun we were having when it broke. Side note: it involved a family just dance session, and lets just say we danced a little too hard.
2. Remove as much as you can
We made simple switches to our packaging about a year ago. We were tired of the amount of plastic we received and decided to switch to companies that deliver their items more responsibly, and to make sure we do our best to reduce the amount of plastic in our studio and at home. This is how we have reduced plastic in our packaging:
- We deliver all of our products in recycled kraft boxes (we sourced the correct size boxes for most of our products, to ensure we don't need to include excess fillers).
- We switched to paper bubble wrap, paper tape and recycled tissue paper. I love our new paper bubble wrap, and it really aligns with our brand perfectly. You can purchase it HERE
- We created reusable thank you cards, with paper made from recycled coffee cups. You can create yours too. CLICK HERE
- All of our stickers are made with recycled & compostable sticker paper - you can get your HERE
- We make use of Sustainable Papers - we have a fantastic range of papers that are made from 100% post-consumer waste, or recycled coffee cups (how cool is that). Let us know you would like to have more ethically sourced stationery, and we can try our very best to create packaging that is ethical & sustainable too
This is how we have reduced plastic in our home:
- We try to buy loose fruit & vegetable wherever possible
- We don't buy water, we try to bring our water bottles where ever we can
- We use mesh bags for our grocery shopping
- We refill our laundry detergent & washing up liquid. Manchester has some great stores like Unicorn Grocer and Stretford Food Hall
- We buy loose tea, which lasts longer and we can refill our jar
- We try to shop second hand for clothes for us and our daughter. This used to be something I would never have admitted to in the past, but I have bought some beautiful items off ebay that are quality and I wouldn't be able to afford those brands normally.
- This goes for toys as well - we have a whole collection of barbies & sylvanian family items that are all second hand and in beautiful condition.
3. Swap from single use to reusable items
- We made the switch to reusable water bottles & coffee cups (my keep cup is always on my desk and works well for water, tea and coffee).
- We don't use paper towel - we use cotton cloths instead
- We try to pack lunches in glass containers, but sometimes we are bad with this and end up going to the Co-op down the road from the studio. However, with the lockdown this has not been possible, so we are really trying to stay a bit more organized now that we have a bit more time on our hands.
- We make use of Beeswax wraps - I have been gifted a few of these, as well as linen bowl covers which work so well.
- I also switched to reusable cotton makeup remover pads
- We buy recycled paper for the office - I love it, it's such a beautiful colour. We can't get away from printing out our orders, but we print on both sides & shred the paper and use it as filler
4. Switch to natural products
This has by far been one of my favourite things to do! I love trying new natural cleaning products & cleaning - is that weird?
I also found an amazing company called Iron & Velvet who sell plastic free refillable cleaning products. I use some glass spray bottles, and then simply dissolve their sachets in warm water.
I also buy my laundry detergent & washing up liquid from a store that allows you to refill your own containers.
5. Buy less, and buy second hand
This is something we have really worked hard at over the past few years. I will be the first to admit that we used to buy just for the sake of buying. I really do believe that a lot of our need to buy stems from other issues, and if you are able to do the work and uncover the underlying issues as to why you impulse buy you will be much happier in general, and so will the planet.
The first thing we focused on was reducing how much we bought - this was quite easy as it was a necessity moving to a new country, starting a new business and having to live off savings. But we found the less we bought, the less we “needed”.
Now when we do buy, we love to support local makers & artists, and we have also found a love for all things second hand. I spoke about this earlier, but I have bought some beautiful items second hand. You need to be very patient, and look for quality items but the wait is well worth it in the end. Or if it's not, chances are you really don't need it.
For your business, try see if there are things you can buy second hand. Furniture is an easy swop, but you can also buy books, equipment & decorative items. Our favourite second hand purchases include our foiling machine, typewriter, crystal glassware, desk and books.
6. Eat more plants
Today marks a year since I have eaten meat. By now I am sure you know the benefits of switching to a plant based diet, so I won't bore you with the details, but this has been the most interesting, life altering changes we have made. I am still working on cutting out more animal products out of my diet like cheese, but I think this has made a huge impact on our overall carbon footprint. I have become very interested in what you should eat depending on your Dosha (Metabolic Types in Ayurveda), and I am learning more and more interesting facts everyday.
Perhaps you aren't ready to go completely meat free, but you can make some simple swaps, and try and include just a few plant based meals into your weekly meal plan. You may be surprised at how tasty they are!
7. Switch to ethical brands
This is something we are so passionate about. It's worth mentioning, that you should really feel a deep connection to a brand, their values and ethos before deciding to do business with them. I know pricing can be a factor in many purchase decisions, and I am well aware that sometimes you just cannot afford to shop with more sustainable businesses or brands, but where you can and where it matters you should.
We try our best to support as many local businesses as possible, because we know that they are the backbone to the economy, and usually they are more ethical & sustainable too.
Also be sure to remember that there is a reason why ethical brands are usually more expensive, because they try to buy local materials, pay their staff a fair wage, and cant buy in bulk like larger companies can.
Don't only think about brands - we recently made the switch to a more ethical bank (Triodos Bank). We haven't swapped over our business account yet, but I am really impressed with their values & ethos.
Here are a few of our favourite ethical brands, who’s ethos we really admire:
- Botanical candle co
- Pepper You
- Form Lifestyle Store
- Ara The Altar
- Bare Bones Chocolate
- Pela Case
- Iron & Velvet
8. Natural light & plants
This is something that is just as important for your soul, as it is for the earth. We are so blessed to have beautiful natural light in our studio, that shines from above. It's so nice in the summer months, as we dont need to keep the lights switched on all the time. In my office at home, I really have the most gorgeous natural light, and I love seeing the beams stream in in the morning, and catch the crystals on my desk.
We are also obsessed with house plants, which are all over our home and bring such joy & life to our space. It's also wonderful to take a few moments to water & care for them.
9. Give Back
We support an organisation called Offset Earth - where we have our own corporate forest and purchase more trees every month (regardless of our profit). Offset Earth partners The Eden Reforestation Projects who plant millions of trees around the world each month. This helps us offset our carbon footprint and make an impact on the current climate crisis. You can also get involved HERE.
9. Choose to live Slowly & Sustainably
After 7 years in the wedding industry, we were completely burnt out and out of love with our previous business. So when we started Molly and Tom, we purposefully chose to live more intentionally & sustainably. It's also why we are so passionate about print. Because yes, there may be quicker ways to do things, or send things but we are obsessed with the process. The slower the better. We also choose purpose over profit - we aren’t saying that making a profit is not important to us, obviously we need to be profitable in order to keep our doors open, but this is by far not the only reason why we are in business. Our main goal is to help our clients create a lasting connection with their clients. To help them add values to their product or service and most importantly create packaging & print that is mindful and creates a fully immersive experience for the end user. We want our business to support our family, as well as our employees' families. We want our clients to feel confident about the products and services they offer, and most importantly we want to create printed material and packaging that has meaning and purpose behind it. That tells a brand’s story, and ultimately creates a lasting connection between the brand and its consumer. We try to be mindful of the planet, and how we can make our products more sustainable for the environment and for future generations.
I hope this has inspired you to take action this Earth Day, you don't have to be perfect, you just have to be mindful in your choices. We are far from perfect, but we try our best to make changes wherever we can. We choose progress over perfection, and hopefully in ten years time we will be making a huge difference. It's important for us not to just focus on the fact that our packaging is recyclable, but to ensure that our business is sustainable for the planet and for us as small business owners!!