For some people, it was the documentary about the swathes of plastic clogging up the sea that piqued their environmental consciousness. For me, it was reading somewhere that every single toothbrush I had ever used was somewhere in a hole in the ground. I took it a bit literally to mean that they were all in the same hole together, toothbrush piled upon toothbrush looking chewed and crusty and minging. The shame. So, while it is bamboo toothbrushes all round here at the KP ranch, it also had me thinking about how we try to be a little bit sustainable as a business and how we might be better.
- PAPER BAGS: Paper bags in the shop and tissue paper. No plastic ever. We use a lot of brown kraft paper and card. This is not only chic and fits in with our black and white colour way, it is also environmental as it is often recycled and doesn't involve any bleaching.
- ONLINE PACKAGING: Packaging for online orders is mostly brown kraft boxes and brown gummed paper tape. We use wood wool which is - as it sounds - kiln-dried shreds of wood, one step up from sawdust, and perfect for keeping more delicate items protected. Our main sticking point is the plastic mailer. For smaller items and non-gifts, we have switched over to using folded over cardboard pocket mailers or jiffy bags with paper padding and ditched the plastic mailer. However, for some of our gin gift kits, we need to protect the box and have used a bubble bag and a plastic mailer. We are looking into switching this up into a second single-wall wrap box to protect the gift box. Tricky as it is a bespoke item and takes some time to get it right and explore all the options. This is the area of our packaging that bothers me most and is something we are still working on. We also use
- ROYAL MAIL: All our packages are sent out by Royal Mail. I can't find the stats to back this up, but surely using a larger universal provider has a lesser environmental impact? Is one more parcel on the postman's route greener than sending a courier specially? Either way, as a large organisation, Royal Mail does have what seems like well thought out environmental policies.
- VINTAGE: I have long justified a vintage clothing habit in terms of sustainability and environmentally friendliness. We also sell a lot of vintage items in the shop, from knives to ceramics. Beautiful, sustainable and - particularly in the case of knives - you get a lot of bang for your buck with the vintage items.
- PRODUCTS: we try to choose products that are sustainable as possible. The knives that we sell have a high carbon content so can be re-sharpening time and again and, if cared for, will last you a life time. In a more literal sense we do sell metal straws, hobo knives and metal chopsticks that are the alternative for single use plastic. We don't sell many plastic items (I think the mandolins are the exceptions and these are far from single use) and the packaging on any items is mainly cardboard. The food items we sell from small producers have glass packaging which is ripe for recycling or re-using. When we have more complicated parcels to package - the large hugely breakable thing with the long, spiky-sharp object - we are more than happy to reuse packaging we end up with.
- LOCAL LONDON MAKERS: working with local London producers does go some way to reducing the object-miles. We do also ship in some products from Japan, so not all perfect.
There you go. Not exactly a full environmental audit but it is definitely something we give a lot of thought to and try to trim away at materials and products that are unsustainable.