Environment

Earth Day 2024: Big businesses must take responsibility for environmental impact, retailers say

There's a lot of responsibility in the hands of big businesses to mitigate their environmental impact, retailers from Big Issue Shop have said

Earth Day

Illustration by Mateusz Napieralski

Plastic is everywhere.

Some eight million pieces of plastic pollution make their way into the ocean every day. Scientists have found the durable material in human blood and breast milk. And the damaging debris litters the most isolated tundra and highest mountain top.

This Earth Day – themed “Planet vs Plastic” – campaigners are calling for urgent change. The organisers have demanded a 60% reduction in the production of all plastics by 2040.

One way to help? Buy less plastic. To celebrate the 54th annual Earth Day, Big Issue Shop has launched an Earth Day Collection – and there are several ethically sourced products for the sustainably-minded shopper.

Best Years – one of the brands featured in the collection – are a toy company offering sustainable toy ranges made from wood and cotton.

Businesses have the ability to make positive change, urges founder Lisa Lambourn.

“Business can achieve a lot if they have the commitment, you only have to look at Timpson’s and their offender program and Lush with their zero plastic to see what can be done if people believe they can make a change,” she said.

Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to take stock of their sustainability commitments, Lambourn added. “Earth Day puts the focus on environmental issues and gives us the opportunity to stop and look at what we have done,  and what more we can do to improve our environmental footprint.”

Over the past 60 years, around eight billion tons of plastic has been produced – and 90.5 per cent of which has not been recycled. Much of this is packaging that could be made from other, more eco-friendly materials.

Rebecca Dallimore, founder of Scintilla – an ethical skincare brand – is passionate about this potential.

“All my packaging is recycled, recyclable or compostable to reduce the footprint and waste… I make everything either to order (such as my hand-knitted facecloths) or in small batches to reduce waste,” she said.

However, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are many things small businesses can do to mitigate their environmental impact, Dallimore urges.

“It’s definitely a lot of responsibility in the hands of larger businesses who have the financial capacity, networks and power to do so, but small businesses doing their bit to be more sustainable also helps with the wave of change,” she said.

Scintilla’s products are natural, or naturally-derived, and the organisation liaises with suppliers on ensuring ingredients and materials are sustainably sourced.

“I record, monitor and offset the emissions associated with my small operations and am currently aiming to better track deliveries of orders too,” she added.

Dallimore is very pleased to work with the Big Issue, too. “I love the ethos of the Big Issue and understand that the number of people living in poverty in the UK is so much higher than it should be,” she said.

You can find our entire Earth Day Collection here. Other featured brands include Ruby Moon, Sendero Specialty Coffee and Studio 306.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
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