Ways To Make Your Small Business Less Impactful To The Environment

I’ve become more and more environment conscious over the last few years. I was brought up to think about the environment and recycling everything, but since I started my product based business I have learnt a few new things. Since I started running my shop and selling products, wastage has become a pressing issue to me as a small business owner as well as good citizen. I am conscious of the material I use and am always trying to reduce my impact on the environment.

Use paper sticky tape instead of plastic

I started to use paper sticky tapes last year and am close to using up all my remaining plastic tape. I am pleasantly surprised at its strength, and resolve to use paper sticky tape for the rest of my life! I hear that some plastic tape lookalikes are actually biodegradable but it is best to buy them from plastic-free specialised shops, just to be sure.

Reuse your packaging

I keep all envelopes and boxes from my online orders, unless they are badly damaged, so I can use them again for shipping my shop orders and commissions. The bigger boxes are particularly useful when I receive wholesale orders!

I also collect newspapers, flyers, and takeaway menus coming through my letter box and use them as a void filler, instead of bubble wraps or polystyrene foam peanuts.

Use recycled packaging and materials

Sometimes there is specific packaging I need for my products so that I have to buy in bulk instead of reusing used boxes. I proactively seek out packaging that is made of recycled materials. 

It is the same case for the rest of my materials – envelopes, backing boards, tissue papers, paper stock, etc. 

Recycling bin in close proximity

Having a recycling bin right where you work makes it easier to remember to recycle!

Buy supplies locally

Reduce air pollution by ordering from manufacturing suppliers locally, so no aircraft and fewer motor vehicles are needed. I make efforts looking for suppliers starting with Nottingham or the Midlands, and then UK wide.

Go for recycled or FSC certified stock

This is not the most difficult thing to do because almost every paper supplier and manufacturer uses FSC certified stock, and some of them offer recycled options as well. I will choose recycled stock in a heartbeat but if there is no recycled options then FSC certified paper is okay.

Also, we small businesses tend to add a personal touch when packaging our orders so it is important to use the most eco-friendly stock available for business cards, thank you cards, complimentary slips, etc.

Where to shop?

Anything But Plastic
Lil Packaging
The Green Stationery Company
Tiny Box Company
Ethical Superstore
The Green Office

My business is certainly not perfectly sustainable. I am still learning and looking for better ways to reduce my impact to the environment.

I still wrap my cards with cello bags and am looking to transition to biodegradable ones. I still have bubble wrap but I reuse it to wrap my ceramics rather than disposing of them in landfill. I have some plastic based materials in my studio and I plan to use them until they run out. I then will find a better alternative rather than buying more of the same thing.

What steps have you taken or plan to take to make your small business eco-friendly?

Ceramic Update

It’s been a while since I last wrote about my ceramic journey. Feeling deflated about my last unsuccessful glaze fire, I hesitated to start decorating my new bisque wares and left them sitting in a box gathering dust. Then recently when I had a bit of free time, I thought it was a good time to face it and get it done. How else would I know what was wrong? I had to investigate. The glazes were not cheap to buy, I may as well use them up!

I used a different local kiln firing service to see if the outcome would be the same. Happily I found out that this was not the case. Yay!

The ceramic shine I’ve always aspired to worked on every single piece. The decorating glazes look better than the last batch, although not as vibrant as I hoped for but I think it is just the brand of the glazes. I was literally bobbing with delight when I saw them laid out on the table, looking back at me all shiny. In the words of the ceramicist who did the firing, they turned out “really charming”!

I will be using this kiln firing service from now on. It helps a lot that they have electronic controls on their kilns so they can fire quite accurately to what temperature my choice of overglaze needs. It’s also more convenient because that place is closer to get to.

In hindsight, I think I also applied a little thicker overglaze this time so it may contribute to the success of this fire.

All the research and experiments I’ve done for the last two years have at last paid off. I feel really inspired to carry on developing my ceramic collection and hope for a string of successful fires. I have some lovely ideas floating in my head I want to execute in the near future and I will keep sharing my stories here on the blog.

I am not quite where I want to be in terms of style and technique (still a newbie here!) but I felt ready to sell them and want to work hard on finding my style while I continue making things out of clay. So for the first time I sold them on my stall with Paperdolls Summer Market two Saturdays ago and I was elated to receive lots of positive comments and four of them were sold to very happy customers.

I’ve listed the remaining ceramics on the shop for very good prices, do check them out if you fancy getting your hands on a quirky ceramic – and thank you for enduring my ups and downs on this ceramic project of mine!




Bristol Botanic Garden

Last week I took a week off and headed to Bristol to visit my sister and 8 months old nephew. The UK heatwave hit at the same time, so it actually felt like a holiday. Some of the architecture in Bristol has a seaside feel that enhanced the holiday feeling! I had a beautiful time getting to know my nephew, who is, of course, growing up so fast, and going out every day in the sun. My highlights of the week were babysitting Victor for a day while Erika popped out to her BSL teaching duties, a ferry taxi round trip, and a botanic garden.

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My Plant Story

When I was younger, I went to B&Q with family and the plant section quickly caught my eye and I brought home a tiny Venus Fly Trap and red Bromeliad. I was clueless about looking after them (I can’t remember that I was actually worried about keeping them alive, and I’m not sure that I had watered them!) and they slowly died.

 Chinese Money Plant (Pilea Peperomioides) & Inch Plant (Tradescantia Tricolour)

I didn’t buy any more plants until I moved into a London flat with Aneurin 4.5 years ago. I visited a local garden centre I had never been to and bought a few plants, which scared me a little but I was determined not to kill them! After a while, I saw succulents in a plant stall on the high street and bought some. I was delighted as I’d wanted one for ages.

Despite my best efforts I eventually killed them most of them! I think I have 4 out of ten or twelve plants that are still with me to this day, which are the Madagascar Dragon Tree plant (which is so hardy!), an Echeveria kind of succulent (which survived several near-deaths) and couple of cacti.

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We’re Engaged!

Look at this beautiful portrait of us I commissioned Natalie Harney to illustrate.

On Valentine’s Day, Aneurin proposed to me with a emerald ring and I said yes! Well, I didn’t say yes immediately, I actually thought he was kidding. I had to pick up the ring and inspect it first! It was dark, we’d just finished watching an awful romantic film with a good cheeseboard but rubbish red wine. Once I realised he was serious about wanting to marry me, I said, “yes, I will marry you!”

He meant to propose on our 5 year anniversary in Edinburgh two weekends before, but the ring wasn’t ready then. Looking back, I am quite thankful that he didn’t propose in public somewhere in Edinburgh – I am very shy and I probably would be a little peeved with him for putting me on the spot!

The proposal was a complete surprise. We’d agreed quite early in our relationship that we would not get married. But Aneurin changed his mind after five years for the tax benefits, but after some prodding I got him to admit he is a little bit romantic after all!

Back to this commissioned portrait – I’ve always loved Natalie’s illustrations and her minimalistic style so when I needed an anniversary gift for Aneurin I knew where to go! Working with her was a breeze. I asked her to base the illustration on this picture and because some parts of us are cut off I sent her few more photos of us. She captured us so well and I can’t wait to frame it and hang it in our forever house (we’re currently house hunting and hopefully will find something perfect by next year!).