A talk to the Green Party on starting an eco-friendly business.

· 1974 words · about 10 minutes

Earthglade, not to be confused with Glade Deodoriser or a region in Florida.

Opening Statement.

Hello and welcome. We are Szara & Dave founders of Earthglade. A company that promotes awareness of the challenges our planet faces and what we can do to overcome them.

We also sell stuff.

Where to Begin.

Frustration.

Earthglade was born out of utter frustration. Frustration at the lack of urgency by this world’s leaders over climate change and pollution. Frustration with the greed that powered the world’s industry that has ultimately led to the pollution problems we face today. Frustration with the lack of knowledge that is available to the general public on alternatives to their usual purchases and ways to reduce their climate impact, without digging through the haystack of the internet.

Yes there have always been groups and organisations that have warned us of the coming environmental problems. The Union of Concerned Scientists in 1992 penned a warning to humanity, calling on humankind to curtail environmental destruction and that a great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required. Greenpeace have been a constant presence on our screens, blocking the destruction of natural habitats and chasing oil companies. The Green Party has waged an ongoing fight to protect the diversity of the natural world. They have not been listened to until now as the planet turns against us.

We sat there in 2018 after another hot summer and started thinking. What is going on in the world? What can be done to improve it? Why is everything we buy wrapped in plastic? There must be a better way. Time for the blinkers to come off.

Discovery.

Well then, time to find that needle in the haystack. We spent many months researching ways and means to improve our climate footprint.

We first looked at recycling. We found that our local council only recycled certain waste and this was down to budget. The list of non-recycables was huge that filled our black bin on it’s way to incinerators or landfill. You have to ask the question here. Why do companies produce products or products wrapped in something destined to add to the Earth’s pollution. They should be accountable to what effect their products have on our environment and factor in it’s proper disposal at end of life.

On a positive note we found that most things can indeed be recycled if the resources are available. Companies like Terracycle take certain types of waste and convert it into useful items which they sell and give part of the profits to the charities that collect this waste. We at Earthglade have a collection bin and profits go to our chosen charity Hallswood Animal Sanctuary.

This then prompted a look at what we purchased everyday in our lives and how we could alter this to cut down on the waste going into the black bin. On our weekly shop we started questioning where products were coming from and what they were made of. We found it was very difficult to find local organically made items. Only a few specialist shops stocked such items and were generally a higher price than your supermarket. Internet searches found planet healthy items lurking in the depths of a companies inventory, usually marked “Our natural selection”.

We thought these items must be coming from somewhere. Upon delving through the wholesalers websites we found that they too also had small sections of their inventory devoted to planet healthy products hiding within the bounty of products destined for landfill. There at this time was no one wholesaler that I could find in the UK wholly devoted to providing sustainable products. Without the necessary connections and finance to bring these products into the UK myself I had to rely on what many different wholesalers could provide us with. Of course the only way to get these products was to become a company.

The Journey.

On the starting blocks.

On November 21st 2018 Earthglade was born. It was a natural birth with much pain and gnawing of teeth. We felt like a new born exploring an uncharted environment. New skills had to be learned. Accounting, website design, networking, media coverage, Point of Sale processes and time management. The last mean’t any spare second we had in the day. Then there was what we were selling and what we wanted the business ethos to be about.

Throughout the construction of the website we knew it had to be sales orientated, but also wanted it to be welcoming and to provide information on how to improve our climate impact. Hence it includes sections on eco information and links to other companies that are trying to make a difference. To raise the funds to start this venture Dave sold his Star Wars Lego collection. Yes he sold plastic to begin a better life. On this point, we are not against plastic. Just the way in which it is mainly dealt with in our society.

With this ethos in mind, we tried our best to find alternative everyday items that could be useful, but have little or no impact on Earth’s climate. The products themselves were initially drawn from two or three different wholesalers and amounted to about twenty different items. We now stock over 100 with scope for more. The stock fluctuates on what finances we have available. We support as many local suppliers as possible and organic as possible. Some of our products are handmade in and around Norfolk.

Our online presence is a small factor in spreading the eco word. In 2019 we attended many fairs, fetes and eco meetings which gave us a wonderful opportunity to meet people face to face. We were astounded at the beginning of 2019 at how many people were unaware of our planets plight and what alternative products there were. Some were relieved that finally there was something staring them in the face that they could feel guilt free about. We have had many wonderful conversations about soap nuts of which we have used for many years.

Changing Lanes.

Throughout 2019 we felt a change in the air. Everybody did. Suddenly Extinction Rebellion proclaimed it’s attack on societies norms. People who have always been concerned with our planets plight, but ignored in the past, stepped up to the mark and declared their allegiance to the cause. Events popped up from these concerned citizens and people slowly became more aware.

We noticed as the year progressed, more and more people were talking to us about what they could do to help and more products were becoming available from our suppliers. New suppliers were now popping up that mainly catered for eco concerned businesses. We now have at least twenty go to suppliers that keep on bringing in new and improved products. By this I mean products that come from either a Recylced, Organic, Sustainable or Ethical source. Ideally all those combined.

A note on Green Washing. When searching for that needle in the haystack, make sure it is not just shiny, but holds it’s own. Many companies seeing what they might call the latest eco trend, fear they will be left in the dust if they don’t provide an offering to the masses. Many state they now offer eco products, but delve a little and the ground they stand on starts to crumble. This is called Green Washing, appearing to be environmentally friendly. We recently had a heated exchange with Eco Egg, which on the surface appears to be environmentally friendly (and in their defence it is better than most detergents), but on the spec list on their website listed toxic ingredients in the manufacturing process. The list magically disappeared the next time we looked.

There are now many governing agencies that monitor green products and apply their stamp of approval if satisfied. Agencies such as GOTS, The Soil Association and FSC. We personally research companies and look for these approval ratings and what a companies ethos is before ordering. We of course have to take these companies at their word and if found to be providing false information, we stop trading with them.

Of course better products come out all the time that are more sustainable and contain less waste material. We started with bamboo cups that contained melamine, but have now switched to recycled coffee cups and rice husk cups. We are constantly improving and welcome advice from anyone on our products and information we provide.

What Next.

WTF

In the 70’s a certain company wanted to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony whilst consuming it’s product. This then started an explosion in plastic use as this and other companies switched from glass to plastic. Synthetic Plastic was invented in 1907 by Leo Baekeland. Ironically in 1862 Alexander Parkes had discovered a plastic made from organic material which had limited uses, but at least showed us things could be done differently.

At the end of 2019 we viewed the world through tired, but much more contented eyes. Any profits we earned we pushed back into the business to improve the website, advertising and more stock. Hopefully making us more noticeable to the world around. We made many friends and connections. We looked forward to 2020.

Well what can we say. To say life and Earthglade was put on hold is an understatement. Sales and environmental interest had dried to a trickle, like many of the world’s struggling river’s.

In a way it has been nice to have a respite and reflect on what has transpired so far on our journey. In other ways it has revealed our societies ingrained habits. The amount of waste in the world has increased from the irresponsible disposal of PPE. The general population could not wait on lockdown easing to que for miles at Mc Donalds and Primark and add more landfill to the planet. These habits need changing.

First Norfolk and then the world. (Evil laugh lol).

We wait with baited breath for 2021. As a business we are still alive and kicking when many others have perished due to financial strain. We mourn their loss, but are optimistic for the future. We want us and other companies to show the world can be a better place by using less environmentally damaging ways to live our lives. To change societies habits, to become less selfish. Our society has become transfixed on the next best thing, the newest fashion or trend. Without a care from which it comes or where it will end up. We have become a single use society when we should be more of a circular one. We need to value what we have.

We want to be part of that generation that inspires a new way to live.

You may laugh and say. “Why add to the commercial madness of this world with Earthglade?” The reason. It’s what people know. They are until otherwise taught drawn to commercial engagement. Through that engagement they can learn and hopefully change. Buy our products to replace a item which has reached it’s end of life by all means. Don’t buy to replace a item of use until such a day, even if it is now viewed as an enemy of the environment. Yes sales will help keep Earthglade afloat, but we would rather you take away new knowledge that helps you and the environment than a new toothbrush.

End Summary.

In summary, we have taken this path in our journey because this is what we were capable of doing. It has led us to appreciate and understand our natural world more. It has revealed the dangers in doing nothing. It has replenished our souls.

During the lockdown the country became a more peaceful place, carbon emissions dropped and wildlife came out to greet us. We want this world, do you?