It is always a bit overwhelming to think how to make a difference when it comes to the environment and making the world a cleaner place for our children.
I have decided to bring it back to my reality and, what, as a small business I can do...I took about of inspiration from this article on How eCommerce Businesses Can Be More Sustainable.
First of all, I’m from a rural village in the South of France, where my primary school had hens and rabbits, fed with our canteen scraps and my grandparents had their small vegetable garden with pretty much anything you could eat in it!
Reducing, re-using and being mindful of the environment were part of my everyday life.
Bringing it back to now, as a family, we recycle anything that can be recycled, re-use bags and packaging, welcome 2nd hand clothes and have replaced the family 7-seater with an electric car.
So with this personal family “reduce, reuse, recycle” approach, I have implemented some initiatives within Mimitoys.
The world of an ecommerce online business is full of boxes; the boxes we receive from our suppliers and the boxes we use to send orders.
What do we do with our cardboard boxes?
We re-use all boxes that come in from our suppliers. Boxes in from our suppliers become delivery boxes to our household customers.
We collect used cardboard boxes from neighbouring businesses. This is a real win for everybody as those business reduce their recycling/refuse bills, we get excellent no-carbon boxes and customers get their toys delivered in robust rigid boxes.
We now put a Mimitoys label on these reused boxes as we found that initially some customers were rejecting deliveries as they didn’t recognise the brand on the side of their delivery box.
What do we do with our pallets?
Most orders come on a pallet, which is a way of protecting boxes during transport.
Luckily Myles (my husband) has an obsessive hobby of making pallet wood into various pieces of home furniture, garden pots & troughs. Thank you Pinterest! I can't believe he has listed more than 200 projects...Recently he made outdoor Christmas trees and 2 large reindeer (see our Facebook for piccies of the Chrimbo items). The offcuts he makes into Charcoal for Summer Barbeques. Odd but that’s how he rolls!!!
The vast majority of our toy range is timber, where our suppliers and their manufacturers use managed forestry. So the wood in the toy has itself captured carbon and the trees planted to replace that timber also captures carbon. Over a 40-year period it’s theoretically a near zero carbon cycle.
We use An-Post for deliveries, fantastically reliable but also a home courier with more than 1000 electric vans on the road. This for me is a fantastic win. I don’t know their electricity supplier and how they generate the juice but it's definitely a near zero carbon impact. Also during low season we drop our orders to the nearest An-Post sorting office with the electric car, so those journeys are zero carbon (or at least near zero). Our electricity supplier is SSE so the battery power in the car comes from 100% renewable electricity.
Commute time from home to work is 20 steps from kitchen table to warehouse door. So that’s all muscle power!!!
I feel slightly awkward in writing the above because it does sound boastful – I don’t mean it to be so.
I am trying to reflect on what we’ve done in waste and carbon reduction. The waste reduction decisions are rooted in my learnings as a child while the carbon reduction initiatives are my decisions / reactions within our modern world.
For the future I'm trying as ever to source more toys closer to Europe - not easy as I want to maintain an affordable range but there are some breakthroughs possible.
On the operations side I want to replace my plastic box sealing tape with good sticky paper tape (thats recycled paper) that I can print the Mimitoys logo on – I can't find such a thing – maybe a reader here can suggest. I also need to invest in better light and low electricity bulbs into the warehouse like I have in the office.
If any reader wants to suggest further initiatives, I would be so grateful for any ideas.