The Prince of Wales’ Terra Carta – a Magna Carta for the planet – symbolizes a new spirit of collective action on sustainability, writes Jim Manson
Who would care about sustainability in a time of global pandemic? That was the question weighing on the minds of environmental campaigners as the world went into lockdown last year.
As an unknown virus sped across the planet, fears about food shortages, mass hospitalizations and job security were real and present. In the face of actual existential threats, would we carry on buying organic, still choose greener alternatives and diligently separate the recycling? Would companies press ahead with their sustainability pledges, carbon targets and plastic bag bans?
The answer is a resounding yes. Rather than dropping off the radar, sustainability has pushed its way right to the top of the agenda in this time of COVID.
At the global level we witnessed the election of Joe Biden as US President, who immediately committed America to rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and pledged to restore over 100 environmental rules rolled back by the Trump Administration. COP26 – to be hosted in Glasgow later this year – is meanwhile poised to be most ambitious global environment summit ever.
But one initiative in particular perhaps captures the new spirit of collective action on the environment better than any other, as well as providing some striking symbolism. The Terra Carta (Earth Charter) – a Magna Carta for the planet – was unveiled in December by the Prince of Wales at the One Planet Summit in France. It sets out a planetary recovery plan that ‘puts nature, people and planet at the heart of global value creation’.
Introducing the Terra Carta, which sets out 100 actions for businesses to adopt in ten transformative areas, the Prince said he was ‘making an urgent appeal to leaders, from all sectors and from around the world, to join us in this endeavour’.
A call to industry
One of the first business leaders to sign up to the Terra Carta pledge was Viridian Nutrition founder Cheryl Thallon.
“We believe the Terra Carta’s ambitions resonates with Viridian’s ethical principles and philosophy of protecting the health of our planet and safeguarding it for future generations. We are proud to be among the first to join Prince Charles’ dynamic charter.
“However, it is essential we act collectively to make any fundamental difference and urge other colleagues in the industry to pledge their commitment to the Terra Carta.”
A perfect illustration of how environment issues and economic priorities are now in lockstep came in comments in February from the outgoing secretary general of the OECD, Ángel Gurría. Gurría said that protecting the planet was now our ‘single most important intergenerational responsibility’. While emphasizing that this effort needed to be looked at in the round – protecting soil, land and water resources, preventing overfishing and rescuing crucial ecosystems like coral reefs and mangroves – the issue he said that must take precedence is cutting carbon emissions. Staging a green recovery would require ‘putting a big fat price on carbon’.
Carbon crunch time
The role of businesses in meeting carbon reduction targets is going to be crucial, and natural and organic companies are among those leading the way. Organic farming’s multiple climate change mitigation benefits are well established – more efficient at carbon sequestration, lower nitrous oxide emissions (with 300 times more potent warming impact than CO2) and lower overall energy to mention just three. Organic food and other products produced organically should therefore be advantaged – but industry will need to shout louder about organic’s vital climate contribution.
One brand that is doing pioneering work in this area is Alara Wholefoods, which earlier this year became the first cereal manufacturer in the world to declare the Scope 3 (CO2e) – the most demanding measure of carbon emissions – of its products. The CO2e declaration appears on-pack on Alara’s new Grow Back Greener muesli range. The company’s founding director, Alex Smith, says that food businesses ‘must start taking responsibility’ for the embedded carbon in the food they produce. Measuring Scope 3 carbon means mapping and calculating the end-to-end carbon footprint of a product, which is challenging. But Smith believes companies will increasingly face stakeholder demands to include all indirect emissions in their carbon calculations
Just as important as doing the calculations is how businesses deal with their carbon footprint. In Alara’s case it is offsetting all the embedded carbon in its branded products through an innovative partnership with the Charity Rainforest Saver, which employs a climate-friendly farming technique known as Inga Alley Cropping.
Carbon neutrality is likely to become a built-in requirement of new production facilities in future. This thinking is embraced by smoothie maker Innocent, which this year will open a $250 million carbon neutral production site in Rotterdam. Dubbed ‘the blender’, the new facility is described by the company as a ‘symbol of Innocent’s ambition to use business to do good’. The Rotterdam location is central to the new factory’s sustainability credentials. Much of the company’s ingredients and products are shipped by sea, so a port location maximizes the opportunity for that. Rotterdam’s hub location will also enable the company to save an estimated 13,000 truck journeys a year.
Excess packaging continues to be a lightning rod issue for environment and sustainability campaigners. As a result, developing materials with lower environmental impacts is now the subject of intense activity. Some brands have switched to using more paper and card. Others have moved over to plastic alternatives.
Faith in Nature, for example, recently switched to ocean-bound plastic across its core range. Ocean-bound reclaimed plastic is collected from rivers and streams to prevent it specifically from entering the ocean. Elsewhere, supplements brand Good Health Naturally recently announced a new biodegradable and compostable refill pouch for its for Active Life multivitamin product. The brand says that if it proves popular with customers, it will roll it out more widely across the range.
But as brands direct increasing investment into greener, or more recyclable packaging materials, a fragmented UK recycling system creates a major obstacle to progress, with some authorities sending up to 70% of waste intended for recycling straight to landfill. Supplements innovator BetterYou wants this to change. Under its Better Planet Project, the company has moved over to ocean waste plastic – a material made from plastic reclaimed from the sea, which also has a much lower energy and carbon footprint than virgin plastic – and plant-based plastic. But it says that many of its customers are unsure about the type of plastics their authority will allow for collection. So now BetterYou has a launchd a UK Parliament petition calling for a national programme for recycling with published performance measures, public and commercial education programmes and an incentivized plastic recycling scheme.
Back to zero
The rapid rise of the zero-waste store is being called a retail revolution. In the UK an estimated 100-150 dedicated zero-waste and refill stores have opened in the last five years, where they have built a dedicated following among the growing ranks of ‘zero-wasters’. But in many ways, the wholefood and health food stores of the 1970s and 1980s were the original zero-waste and refill stores. Open sacks of oats, nuts and pulses – or elementary scoop bins – were a common feature of wholefood retailing at the time. Gradually, they fell out of favour – victims of health and safety and a growing preference for the convenience (to both shoppers and retailers) of pre-packs.
But some stores – typically those in student areas, and with a more eco-minded business ethos – have kept their zero waste offers going. Wild Oats in Bristol is a good example. Owner, Mike Abrahams, has been blazing a trail for his version of zero waste ever since he owned the store in 1980. But it was reducing food waste, rather than packaging, that was his inspiration. Abrahams designed his own bulk bin system selling loose oats, pulses, nuts and dried fruits. It was popular from the start and made his store stand out. Wild Oats now has an entire room devoted to bulk bays. And it means the store is perfectly placed to attract a new generation of green consumers who prioritize packaging-free shopping.
Other stores have been adding a bulk and refills offer to their retail mix. Best Health Food Shop has five stores across Kent and Sussex, and each has some level of zero-waste offer. Co-owner Melanie Beard says zero waste is ‘an important offering’ in today’s retail environment. “Our customers who are conscious of their health are also conscious of the environment and see it as synergistic.”
Infinity Foods in Brighton is one of a number of pioneer natural food retailers returning to their zero-waste roots. After a gap of 30 years or more, Infinity has brought back bulk supply hoppers – albeit in an updated form (think touch screens and bar codes). The move comes in response to a flood of request from Infinity regulars for a packaging-free option. “We call it as democracy in action,” the retailer recently Tweeted.
One of the first casualties of the early days of the pandemic were the schemes that the major coffee chains operated to incentivize reusable coffee cup use. Amid fears that reusables might increase the spread of the virus, major chains such as Starbucks placed a temporary ban on their use.
As bans on reusables took off around the world, environment campaigners worried that the plastics industry would exploit public fears and push for long-term or permanent bans. But in June 2020, over 100 scientists from 18 countries presented evidence that single-use is not inherently safer than reusables. The group also offered recommendations on how cafés and food retail businesses could minimize the risk to staff and customers, including introducing the concept of ‘contact-free’ systems.
Contact-free was enthusiastically taken up by plastic pollution non-profit City to Sea. It partnered with Bristol-based retailer Better Food to develop and promote its #ContactlessCoffee initiative. Better Food has since gone one step further in its mission to revive reusables by pioneering what it believes is the first loyalty scheme that rewards refill shopping. Each time customers refill their own container – for anything from take out coffees to wholefoods, household cleaners to beauty products – they collect a reward stamp via the Magic App. When they reach 12 stamps they can claim a free hot drink.
Will they refill?
Finally, for anyone worrying about reuse and refill hesitancy during the pandemic, Faith in Nature had some good news. The company reported that refills were up by an astonishing 140% last year. The company said: “Customers are voting at the till, and they’re telling us that refills are the way to go. Amazingly, 2020 was the year that refills went mainstream”.
Tackling a sea of PPE
The surge in single-use PPE has been feeding a toxic waste pandemic, environment campaigners have warned. In the UK alone over 50 million face masks have been used and discarded every day throughout the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. The vast majority end up in landfill, since the standard clinical masks are made of composite materials that include plastics, making them unsuitable for recycling. Step forward the EcoBreathe, a new ‘fully recyclable’ clinical grade mask that it suitable for most kerbside recycling collections. The ‘game changing’ product was developed by startup Mask Bros, which was established in May 2020 by two University of St Andrew’s graduates to provide low cost PPE after founding a charity to help tens of thousands of vulnerable people receive vital food supplies during lockdown.
Carbon claims contested
Brands, big and small, naturally want to tell the world about their carbon reduction achievements. And this has begun to attract the attention of the Advertising Standards Authority. Last September, the ASA banned a TV advert from Quorn over a carbon footprint claim that it ruled was misleading to consumers. It didn’t matter that the advertised product was certified by the Carbon Trust as ‘Cradle to Grave for its full lifecycle. Because the ad omitted ‘significant information’ it was deemed to have broken the advertising code.
Crispy Fruit, Fruits & Seeds, Original and Apple & Cinnamon Bircher, Alara’s new Affordable Organic range of muesli
The new Affordable Organic range brings together Alara’s commitment to sustainability and healthiness. Available in four varieties – Apple & Cinnamon Bircher, a creamy Bircher with sweet apple; Crispy Fruit Muesli, a crunchy mix with dates and coconut; Fruits & Seeds Muesli, with linseeds, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds; and Original Muesli, a blend of 12 delicious ingredients – they all come with Scope 3 CO2e and offset partnership on a plastic free pack and have a low price for everyone to enjoy a nutritious breakfast. Good for your planet, good for your body and good for your pocket.
AQUA Carpatica Natural Mineral Water
Committed to the people and the planet- AQUA Carpatica’s award-winning range offers pure natural mineral water in which health, wellness and care for the environment converge: part of the range is now available in rPET, 100% recycled and recyclable!
Driven by a promise to protect its natural springs, AQUA Carpatica offers ground-breaking products- unique design complemented by environmentally friendly packaging and outstanding qualities:
• Virtually nitrate free
• Suitable for a low sodium diet: 0.6mg/l
• Exceptionally balanced mineral content
• Naturally occurring electrolytes
• Naturally alkaline
• Sustainably extracted
#ItsWaterLove- As Nature Intended!
Discover more: www.aquacarpatica.co.uk
Perfect for trips and travels, this space-saving soap does almost everything except book your insurance for you. Free from cruelty, plastic and preservatives. Its cleansing and deodorising properties make it a luxurious little soap, shampoo or body wash. It’s also naturally antiseptic and anti-fungal, as well as helping to harmlessly repel insects. Meanwhile, if bush craft or backpacking is your thing, you can even use it for hand-washing clothes.
Each Travel bar is handmade with Coconut Oil, Castor Oil, Olive Oil, Lavender, Lemongrass, Peppermint and Tea Tree essential oil blend. – £2.75 RRP
Foundation Stick, Fluid Concealer and Beauty Blender Sponge
Zao has launched a Foundation Stick and Fluid Concealer in a comprehensive range of shades, as well as a beauty blender sponge for optimal application. Both makeup products are Certified Organic with 100% natural ingredients, Peta-certified Vegan and Cruelty Free, using sustainable and refillable bamboo packaging to reduce waste.
The Foundation Stick is a versatile cream foundation in a stick format, delivering a natural lightly powdered finish that feels comfortable on skin. Available in 14 shades, this multi-functional foundation stick readily camouflages imperfections and evens out skin tone with its buildable medium to strong coverage. The stick can be used all over the face as a foundation, applied directly to conceal problem areas or as a contouring product with a lighter and darker shade from the range. Suitable for all skin types, the formula is rich in organic jojoba oil, organic shea butter, organic candelilla waxes and organic carnauba, renowned for their soothing and moisturising properties.
The Fluid Concealer delivers outstanding coverage with its velvety texture, correcting dark circles and other small imperfections effectively, without settling into fine lines and wrinkles. Easy and precise application is facilitated by the foam applicator. The formula has been created to protect the sensitive eye area, enriched with wildcrafted magnolia extract for its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties, enabling it to quench free radicals that contribute to premature ageing. Suitable for all skin types, the Fluid Concealer is available in 6 shades and has an ultra-natural finish.
The Beauty Blender is a multi-purpose sponge that facilitates a swift and easy foundation application for a smooth, flawless and uniform finish. The base of the sponge enables speedy facial coverage whilst the tip of the sponge is designed to reach into the smallest facial crevices to achieve a naturally flawless and even complexion.
We Love the Planet Natural Sunscreen Stick SPF 30 & SPF 20
We Love Sunscreen is an environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional sunscreens that use chemical UV-filters such as oxybenzone. Containing natural UV-filters (Zinc Oxide and Titanium Dioxide), this hypoallergenic, water-resistant formula is made with 100% natural-based ingredients including Rapeseed Oil, Coco-Caprylate oil (derived from coconut oil), corn starch powder and Vitamin E – making it ideal for even the most sensitive skin. Not only is the stick itself sustainable, the cardboard packaging tube is also zero-waste and made from 100% paper. Perfect for travelling, the no-water formula means you can take it directly in your hand luggage to apply as needed with immediate protection. Available at www.kinetic4health.co.uk
OrganiCup is the award winning menstrual cup that replaces tampons and pads and therefore helps to reduce the 200,000 tons of menstrual waste flushed into the sea from the UK alone. Over two years approximately 528 pads or tampons or one reusable menstrual cup. OrganiCup is made from 100% medical grade silicone – No chemicals or dyes making it the safer alternative. Easily used and cleaned. All the instructions are printed on the inside of the recycled card packaging, reducing paper use. OrganiCup is available in three sizes to ensure the right fit. Easier. Healthier. Greener. www.organicup.com
Instant Relief Eye Spray
A treat, not just a treatment, for Dry Eyes ™. 7 in 10 adults have Dry Eye symptoms; Peep Club’s Instant Relief Eye Spray is clinically proven to instantly relieve Dry Eye symptoms (including, redness, irritation, itchiness, a gritty sensation or a heavy, tired feeling caused by Dry Eyes).
As with all our products, the spray treats not only the eye but also the delicate eyelid and under eye skin too. The two active ingredients of Colourless Sea Buckthorn Oil, which is wild-harvested in Finland, and Hyaluronic Acid work together to moisturise, smooth and restore the entire eye area.
Lamazuna Solid Cosmetics
Now entering its eleventh year, Lamazuna is the French cosmetics brand whose quirky, sunny style, beautifully designed bathroom accessories and strong ethical values are putting eco skincare firmly on the map. Committed to putting the planet ahead of profit, Lamazuna’s naturally derived, zero-waste cosmetics have gone from strength to strength, and since they invented their first reusable cleansing wipes, they have saved over 50 million items of bathroom waste from going into landfill!
Lamazuna focus on making their products sustainable and ‘eco-affordable’, meaning that they not only help the consumer minimise their bathroom waste, but save them money—avoiding the need to replace disposable bathroom goods such as cotton buds and pads. All of their skincare products are solid, meaning they travel well in minimal cardboard packaging and last twice as long as their average disposable competitor.
In time for summer, Lamazuna have launched four new solid deodorants. These subtly-scented varieties—in woody, bergamot, floral and marine—are long lasting, mess free, and even better—certified COSMOS Organic. Enriched with ingredients such as deodorising zinc ricinoleate and absorbent diatomaceous earth, these solid deodorant bars for sensitive skin offer confidence to the wearer without the need for harsh chemicals. Their new, organic, solid makeup remover also deserves a mention: the first solid makeup remover in the UK and only £8.99 RRP. Rich in nourishing grapeseed oil and jojoba, its gentle cleansing properties mean it can be used on the delicate eye area to effectively remove all makeup traces, without irritation.
Conscious of their carbon footprint, Lamazuna apply eco-design principles to every stage of their products’ lifecycle. Their strong values extend to their ingredients, which are vegan and of natural origin, and locally sourced where possible. This ethos makes Lamazuna the go-to eco cosmetic choice for discerning customers who want to tread more lightly on the earth.
Ben & Anna Hand Creams
The new Ben and Anna hand creams are a little jar of luxury. Choose from the Daily care for everyday use or Intensive care for dry, irritated hands. Indulging ingredients such as shea BUTTER and cocoa butter leave your hands feeling soft all day, while almond oil provides intensive moisture and cares for the hand. Our ZERO waste range has a variety of vibrant deodorants, effective dental and refreshing shower products for your everyday personal care. Made with 100% natural ingredients our products are gentle on your skin and the planet.
Fair Squared Period Cup
The silicone free period cup from Fair Squared is the environmentally friendly sanitary product for those looking to lead a sustainable lifestyle. Made from 100% Fairtrade and FSC certified natural rubber, the vegan and natural period cup gives protection for up to 12 hours and is an excellent alternative to single use sanitary pads and tampons. It can be used for several years and is available in four sizes and two colours. The period cup also comes with an organic cotton and fair-trade bag for easy storage in between your period, making it easier to carry around too. No plastic, no silicone. Trade prices £11.40 / RRP £17.05
At truthpaste we are proud to practice and promote ethical oral care. Our commitment to sustainability goes beyond zero waste packaging or Vegan Society registration, it’s a global mission. Our organic botanical ingredients are sourced from farming hubs and co-operatives that benefit their town of origin. Palm oil free, plastic free and planting a tree with every order. The kindest way to bring you the antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that benefit the whole mouth and leaving you with a dentist-fresh ‘zing’
Good Health Naturally’s ActiveLife™ Capsules, are a comprehensive multi-vitamin/mineral complex, recommended to support the modern diet, as it may not be possible to get all your nutrients from food alone. Each capsule contains an impressive 130 nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, amino acids, lutein, zeaxanthin and much more. It uses the biologically active Quatrefolic® Folate (5-MTHF Folate), which is better utilised by the body than synthetic folic acid. ActiveLife™ gives a superb foundational support for the whole family. Now with an environmentally friendly, biodegradable refill pouch option, to replenish the glass jars. Suitable for vegetarians.
Biona Organic Chickpea and Black Bean 4-Pack
Biona Organic Chickpeas and Black Beans are a great source of protein and make the perfect store cupboard staple. Grown without herbicides or pesticides and with no added salt, preservatives or stabilisers, they are better for you and the planet.
For ultimate convenience, our BPA-free Organic Chickpeas and Black Beans will soon be available in a 100% plastic-free 4-pack. Biona multi-packs are packaged in a cardboard sleeve, rather than plastic wrap, for easy recycling.
Try Biona Beans for a satisfying meat-free substitute in your favourite curries, stews, homemade burgers and even blended to add to healthy desserts.
Natracare Ultra Pads Regular
Did you know that a pack of conventional pads contains up to five plastic bags worth of plastic? Natracare is here to change that, with period products that are plastic free by design. Natracare’s products have been plastic free since 1995 – they use organic and plant-based materials to make you feel comfortably protected, without the unnecessary for synthetic ingredients or harsh chemicals. Natracare’s Ultra Pads are designed to be soft on skin, breathable, and effectively absorbent for every flow. They’re also home compostable so can biodegrade naturally back into the Earth after use.