Earth Day 2022 Q&A

Earth Day 2022 is here and the perfect time to act, innovate and implement changes. This year’s theme is “invest in our planet” and we wanted to take this time to share what we are doing here at Barnardo’s to look after our lovely planet. We are so excited to introduce our Sustainability Manager, Abi, to explain a little further about the work we are doing. Over to Abi!

Hello! My name is Abbi and I joined Barnardo’s Waste and Recycling Team in December 2021 which is when I returned to the UK after living in Australia for three years. I have always been passionate about the planet, and I have been exposed to some pretty upsetting sights during my travels which increased my desire to pursue a career in a sustainable role. Four months in, I feel absolutely honoured to have been promoted to Sustainability Manager and for our department to have been renamed to Sustainability Team. 

Barnardo’s are always striving to become a more sustainable organisation, what are your plans for the next year within Retail?

We have recently developed our first Retail and Trading sustainability strategy which outlines the stepping stones to becoming a greener Barnardo’s. Key strategic goals include reducing waste costs across the Barnardo’s estate and ensuring waste hierarchy best practice is being implemented. With sustainability becoming the core of many business models, it is important that we promote a more circular economy and protect the climate by reducing our carbon impact and becoming a carbon neutral business by 2050. 

Potential sustainability initiatives in the pipeline for 2022 include ink and toner recycling and coffee cup recycling. We will also be introducing monthly sustainability reports and sharing this data with colleagues to help improve our performance and reduce our environmental impact. Some educational material for retail colleagues will also be introduced later this year and we are working closely with the marketing team to promote recycling opportunities both internally and to the public. We are constantly reviewing our stakeholders and exploring opportunities to reduce our waste costs and increase our income from recycling schemes. 

Also over the next 12 months, logistics is going to embark on some exciting changes such as efficient route planning and vehicle safety training, that will help support our sustainability goals through better use of our vehicles and improved fuel efficiency. The New Goods Team are constantly reviewing their range and considering sustainable alternatives whilst working with suppliers to cut out any unnecessary plastic packaging.

What are we doing to be more sustainable in our shops?

Our Retail Team have introduced various sustainable initiatives throughout our stores, including:

  • A new range of eco-friendly cleaning products trailed in stores. 
  • Compostable aprons in place for store colleagues.
  • Kimble label guns used in stores are now available made from recycled plastic and use recycled plastic bullets.
  • Our new superstores are fitted with low energy lighting and heating systems as well as comprehensive recycling bins for the customers. The new stores looking to repurpose the previous tenant’s shop fittings.
  • Stores can now donate their used cardboard to the Gifts in Kind (GIK) warehouse who reuse it to transport GIK to stores. 

Our stores are the perfect place to shop for pre-loved. What’s your best charity shop find?

Haha… so, when I was living in a small outback town in Australia, I often shopped at the local charity shops (or ‘op shops’ as they’d say). I found this super cute black and white tartan tennis skirt, proper Clueless vibes. Only $3! I posted a photo of me wearing it on Instagram and so many people messaged me asking where it was from, and I always tell the same story. When I was walking down the outback town high street, a few people would look at me a bit funnily and I just assumed it wasn’t very fashionable down under. Turns out the skirt was the local high school’s girls’ uniform! 

What are your easy top tips to becoming more sustainable in daily life?

It really is about small changes and getting into positive habits. The list is endless but it’s about picking a few that work best for you and that you know you can realistically achieve and stick to. 

Simple habit changes include:

  • Taking a reusable water bottle out with you.
  • Walking more often instead of driving everywhere.
  • Buy loose items instead of fruit/veg produce wrapped in plastic.
  • Use cooler washing machine cycles.
  • Utilise your compost bin for food scraps.
  • Meatless Mondays.
  • Consume less dairy.
  • Shop local.
  • Switch to LED lightbulbs.
  • REUSE! Give items a second life and buy pre-loved!

Any extra reading you can recommend?

Plastic Free is a good read about the creation of the Plastic Free July Campaign.   I also have my own Instagram page that I use to educate and inspire change – @knowyoureco

For more on Earth Day be sure to head over to their website. Little changes can make a huge difference.

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