Making every day Earth Day
It’s Earth Day. A time when the world comes together to urge our leaders, fellow citizens, businesses and organisations to commit and action the big changes needed to save the planet for the future of humankind. We all have a role to play to make the world a sustainable place for the future, not just for us and future generations, but for all the other glorious species we share this beautiful earth with.
The problems are immense and many are identified in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015. Inside this agenda sits the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDGs provide ‘a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future.’
The SDGs are the most promising route we have of achieving real sustainable, measurable change. No one country, business or group can overcome the massive obstacles we face as our planet struggles with climate change, pollution, poverty, wildlife extinction and so much more.
I urge you to read the 17 SDGs, familiarise yourself with them, and share them with friends and family. Then ask yourself what are the businesses you support doing to adopt, promote and endorse the SDGs? In my opinion, the bigger the business, the bigger its impact on the planet and the bigger share of responsibility it must be encouraged to adopt. Don’t be afraid to engage and challenge the businesses you spend your hard earned money with to ensure they are taking this seriously. Ask they show you evidence of the changes they are making – because most have made very public commitments, and many aren’t sticking to them.
No matter how small a business, we all have a role to play. At Crosskey Avenue, as a new business that takes direct inspiration from the world of nature and horticulture, it’s been easier to ensure that sustainability has been baked into the business since its inception. Here are a few of the ways we are achieving this;
- Plastic free packaging - We refuse to wrap our candle boxes in nasty cellophane wrap. It can’t be recycled (perhaps it can technically but few if any councils will take it in your curbside collection). We realise this sets us against other luxury candle brands but we don’t want to compete on damaging the environment.
- We have ensured the soy wax in our candle wax blend comes from sustainable soy beans grown in the EU following environmental standards. Soy wax is great and gives a nice slow burn but at what cost? The soy wax in other candles could originate from farmland that was until recently virgin rainforest, cut down to make way for soybean crops. That was not a risk we were willing to take, associate with the Crosskey Avenue name, or have on our conscience.
- We are proud to use Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified cardboard in our packaging meaning our candles are presented in beautiful boxes from FSC-certified forests, recycled materials, and FSC controlled wood. Using this certified cardboard means we can be sure no tree has been illegally felled to create our products.
- Recyclable packaging – Once you’ve finished burning your Crosskey Avenue candle the packaging and glass vessel is recyclable. We deliberately designed our cardboard boxes to be fully recyclable, so opted out of fancy hot foiling and other design elements which make it impossible for the cardboard to be recycled. With our glass vessels, once you have cleaned them (pop in the freezer for a few hours and the remaining wax will drop out), they can be reused around the house or added to your glass recycling collection.
- Supporting UK suppliers – By using local UK based suppliers for our products not only are we helping to create and maintain British jobs, we are also reducing carbon emissions caused by cross-country haulage. The UK is full of highly talented and highly skilled artisans, designers, engineers and chemists. We are proud to help support these skills and jobs by making all our products in the UK.
We aren’t perfect, and we are on a sustainability journey. We will continue to learn and as we grow and evolve our business we will come across many more difficult decisions. As we grow we are committed to building a sustainable business model that works for our customers, our business and our planet.
Earth Day isn’t just about politics, business and big announcements though (go USA!). Our individual decisions and actions all have an impact on the wellbeing of our planet. Here are a few of the personal commitments and sometimes difficult actions I have made over the last few years which each have an impact.
Getting rid of the second car – the global pandemic has changed the way we all work and helped us realise we no longer needed two cars. Where we live in the outer London suburbs, public transport isn’t as frequent or efficient as the inner city so most of us need to rely on a car still at some stage of the week. By reducing the number of cars in our home down from 2 to 1 we are doing a little bit to help reduce congestion and improve London’s air quality.
I’m in a bit of a battle about whether our next car should be all electric. My husband has a touch of the 'range anxiety' and isn’t convinced there are enough quick charging points to see us safely on a longer road trip. With most car manufacturers committed to an all EV future though, I don’t think it’ll be long until we all go ‘all electric’.
Switch to a green energy supplier. This is such an easy thing to do. Switch your home energy supplier to one that only uses renewable energy and is actively investing in building more renewables. The UK is rich in wind energy, and with investments in battery storage technology there should be no reason for us to rely on any fossil fuels in the future for our energy needs. Make sure your new supplier gives you a free home energy meter so you can monitor your consumption in real time and make easy savings. Also check out the Energy Saving Trust for free advice and insight into the myriad of schemes and grants to improve the energy efficiency of your home.
Add some meat free days to your week. This is so simple and once you get into the habit you’ll find yourself wondering why you didn’t start earlier. Whether you go for vegan or veggie days its up to you, but by taking a couple of meat free days a week you will be helping to reduce the significant environmental impacts of livestock farming. These include deforestation for farming land and methane greenhouse gasses from livestock.
Recycling – It’s 2021, if you live in the UK there really is no excuse not to recycle. Not doing so is frankly tantamount to littering in my book. Curbside or estate recycling schemes are available to almost every home across the country. If you want the makers of your favourite products and foods to stop using virgin plastics and cardboard they need to ensure there is enough recyclable materials available to produce recycled plastic and recycled cardboard. Right now many producers will tell you their bottles are recyclable, but they won’t tell you that the plastic used in the first place is virgin plastic and isn’t from a recycled source. The goal, and what we should all aim for is the closed-loop system, so for example, when a plastic bottle is recycled it comes back as a new plastic bottle of the same quality, currently this isn’t the case. It is possible but we all need to play our part (business, governments and consumers) to make it happen. There is loads more to the closed-loop recycling system and I probably haven’t done it enough justice here so check out The Ellen MacArthur Foundation (yes the famous sailor!) as they do a great job at explaining it and the circular economy ambition.
A compost heap in a tucked away part of the garden (for those of us lucky enough to have one) is a must if you have the space. As a keen amateur gardener I’ve been composting for years. Not only does fresh home made compost feed and nourish your garden soil, it also acts as a mulch to help retain moisture and supress weeds. I’ve recently discovered hot composting.. this is supercharged home composting where you constantly compost at around 60°C in a specially designed container that retains heat even in the depths of winter. You can have garden ready compost from your food and green waste in as little as 6 weeks. Zero food waste, zero green waste, just high quality compost ready for the garden.
These are just a few of the many things you can do to reduce your individual environmental impact on our planet. I’m sure there is much more I can do and just like everyone else I’m on a journey, learning and trying to do better every year.
Happy Earth Day, keep doing your bit, keep asking questions and demanding better as consumers.
Love and candlelight, Howard x