So, it’s fairly apparent that ever since Sir. David Attenborough produced his landmark series Blue Planet 2, there’s been a war on plastics, why?
The world has awoken to the fact that plastics are poisoning not just our seas, oceans and other waterways, but our wildlife, and even more worryingly for humans, the wider food chain. Micro plastics have been found in fish that humans eat, and now shockingly in human guts.
While plastics are a truly wonderful and necessary part of our life, the simple fact that almost every plastic every produced since the substance was invented still exists today is a scary thought. In fact, it’s the ‘qualities’ that make plastic so versatile such as being durable and cheap, that’s resulted in the stuff clogging up our planet.
So, what’s the purpose of writing this Blog hey Box Menswear?
Well, we’re not jumping on some popular environmental bandwagon, but we are making some changes, not to completely eliminate plastic, because that wouldn’t help the environment and would just push up our carbon emissions instead, but to reduce plastic, and try eliminate plastic waste.
Here’s what we’re going to do at Box Menswear:
We’re going to be phasing out the soft plastic wrapping that most our products are sent to our customers in. The polythene clear plastic bags (picture below) that wraps our underwear is there for 2 reasons. 1) It protects the product, keeping it clean and fresh while in transit and in storage, 2) It acts as a hygiene guarantee to our customers, letting them know that the underwear they’ve received has never been used.
So, we still need to protect our products, and our customers, while also protecting the environment. We’ve been undertaking some research as to what we can do, and while things are still very much a work in progress our initial plans are listed below:
- By December 2019 all of our products will no longer be produced and wrapped in soft plastic polythene bags (photo above).
- With underwear which requires a hygiene guarantee, we will slowly begin to wrap products in paper with a heat or water seal, so that a sticker doesn’t contaminate the paper, making it difficult to recycle, and can cause huge amounts of material sent for recycling to be rejected. We might have to try a few versions of bags out, but we will be trying, and we are in active discussions to use either 100% recycled paper, or paper which is part recycled.
- For products such as our sport shorts, which don’t need a wrapper we have already removed the plastic. If you’ve bought any of our shorts you’ll noticed they arrived without this outer wrapper. Currently however, the shorts arrive in bundles of 50, which is wrapped in plastic. It’s a lot better in terms of waste than having each and every piece inside a plastic bag (we think it reduces net plastic between 80-90%). We are working on having a paper lining put into our cardboard boxes which our suppliers use to send our goods to us, and hope to have this in place before the end of 2019.
- Currently, when we send orders to a customer, these are sent in a durable plastic mailing bag. These are bad, we know they’re bag, and we’re looking at ways to eliminate these completely in 2019. We use a tremendous amount of these mailing bags because they’re excellent in what they do, they’re water proof, virtually tare proof, light weight and also for us, and ultimately our customer, very cheap, but they’re also incredibly wasteful for plastics, and very difficult to recycle, in the same way as supermarket plastic bags almost never get recycled, but at least they can be reused. We are testing several paper bags right now, and we’re also researching what effect using paper instead of plastic has on our carbon emissions, as it’s simply not good enough to do away with one environmental faux pas to bring in another, it’s also no good to say we’re reducing plastic waste, if the paper bags have up having a negative effect on a forrest somewhere in the world. Once we have a definitive solution on these we’ll let you know to much fan fare, it’s in the works guys, but we are determined to do this correct.
So that’s our plan on plastic, but I thought I’d let you know some of the others things we already do which for the benefit of the environment and us all.
- We recycle 100% of cardboard and paper that we use, no jokes or over statements there, absolutely every piece of cardboard and paper that we use at Box, we recycle. It amounts to around 3000 litres worth per week. Sometimes double that on a busy week.
- Our suppliers have some strict guidelines on packing our boxers, briefs and jockstraps when sending them to use which reduces waste as much as possible. Every single box is full to the brim of guys underwear, so that no space or cardboard boxes are wasted.
- There’s also much discussion at the moment on the amount of energy and water used in fabric production, so we do not waste fabric. When we order our underwear, unlike a lot of other suppliers, if there’s some left over fabric, however much or little, we use it all. We’ll use remaining fabric of any orders and just product more pink briefs for example, we often use the extra underwear in promotional offers so things are not wasted. We are aware of other companies who simply throw away excess fabric, not us now, not us ever.
- We send goods by sea wherever possible. By using ocean freight as much as possible, as opposed to air planes, we reduce our carbon emissions and footprint. We also use a really efficient shipping method, meaning if we have a little bit of space left inside of our shipping containers, we’ll let another company near us use that space. It’s just efficient both cost wise and environmentally to do it this way. It requires a little bit more work from us and our logistics agent, but hey, we are not afraid of hard work.
- This year (2018) we replaced all the lighting in our warehouse with energy efficient LED high bay lighting. We used to have old sodium lithium gas style lamps, which each used 450W of energy when in use We have 14 of these, so that’s a massive 6.3KW at any time, it’s just unacceptable. We now use 100W super energy efficient lights which use a combined 1.4KW when in use, and are just as bright. Replacing these old bulbs and housing came at a cost to us, but a cost worth paying. We’ll also save a fair bit on our electricity bill.
- This year we also replaced the heating in our offices with a super energy efficient air conditioning system. It keeps the offices comfortable, because in the summer they’re sweltering and the winter we all get freezing cold. The new system eliminates the small electric fan heaters, and oil filled heaters we used to use. Like the lighting, this new heating system is much more energy efficient, allowing us to reduce our carbon emissions.
- Finally, we share as many as our resources as we possibly can. Staff at Box often ride share cars, and when we post our orders to customers, we share vans and trucks as much as possible using our couriers like Royal Mail, Hermes and DHL. We do this again to become as efficient as possible and reduce our impact on the environment.
So that us, sorry if this is a long read, but it’s important we all recognise whatever our beliefs on climate change and the environment our duty as citizens and what we have to do help protect the planet for future generations.
We are far from perfect, however we’re a SME who’s doing as much as we can to get better, and we will continue to change where opportunity presents itself.