Fair Trade and environmental issues are closely interlinked, and since its establishment Shared Earth has held environmental awareness close to its heart. The problems caused by the climate crisis, in particular, affect the poor countries and peoples of the South far more than those in the North, making it all the more important that tackling it is a top priority.
Shared Earth tries to reduce its negative impact on the environment in the following ways:
- Selling products made from sustainable, recycled or upcycled materials, which are sourced locally wherever possible.
- Working with suppliers to ensure products are manufactured using production methods that are appropriate to the ecology and economy of their country of origin, avoiding pollution, protecting fresh water sources and not damaging the local environment.
- Using recycled materials in packaging, and if this is not possible, using the best eco alternatives.
- Shipping products to the UK by sea rather than air.
- Reducing our corporate energy consumption, recycling waste and minimising the amount we send to landfill.
- Travelling by rail rather than by car or air when possible.
- Working to raise awareness about the importance of environmental issues, including biodiversity, and especially the potential impact on world poverty of the climate crisis.
Shipment by sea
Except for small orders of very light products, and some samples, we ship by sea. If there is a choice between FCL and LCL we will generally choose LCL to ensure space on the ship is best utilised.
Climate crisis levy
To recognise our responsibility as an importer of products from countries around the world, we now charge a 10% climate crisis levy for the following:
- All goods which we import by air (which we try to minimise), with the exception of those where sending by sea would result in higher CO2 emissions (eg landlocked countries like Nepal)
- Any orders which customers request to be sent by air simply to reduce lead times
- Any products which contain more than 10% plastic (other than recycled plastic). We will also try to minimise these, bearing in mind that it is unethical to drop suppliers who rely on us for their income, and trying to work with them on alternative raw materials
- All our air travel
The proceeds from this levy will be used for planting trees, alternative energy or other projects which help to combat the effects of global warming.
Our policy is to use wood only from sustainable plantations, recycled, reclaimed or fallen trees, or products using bark or twigs which can be used without harming the tree concerned. We do not sell products made from protected species without a licence, and are working with our suppliers to identify alternative sustainable woods to replace items traditionally made from species listed in CITES endangered species regulations, even where these have been granted limited licenses.
Our policy is to minimise the use of single-use, non-compostable plastics in packaging and eventually to avoid it entirely, replacing it with paper or other compostable alternatives. Where plastic is used, we aim for it to include as high a content of recycled material as possible, and for it to be printed with the OPRL (on-pack recycling label) to aid recyclability. We also look for alternatives to plastics in the products we buy, and for any products which contain more than 10% plastic, we charge a climate crisis levy (see above).
We aim to recycle all paper, glass, plastic and tins; shred cardboard to use as packing for web orders; turn off computers when not in use; use standby on photocopiers; turn lights off when not needed; purchase products with recycled content when possible; reduce junk mail; keep mailing lists up-to-date; minimise the use of plastics and other non-biodegradable products; and ensure that replacement electrical items are as fuel efficient as possible. We aim to audit our heat and electricity consumption, and create a plan to reduce this year on year. We will also ensure that staff are aware of this policy, know how to implement it, and understand the impact on the world of wastefulness and over-use of resources.
Shared Earth aims to strike a balance between social, environmental and economic responsibilities and always endeavours to improve environmental standards within the company. It is the largest wholesaler of recycled Fair Trade products in the UK, with materials ranging from paper, tin and glass to bicycle chains, rubber tyres, old saris and many other materials.
Responsibility and Review
Performance against this Policy will be reviewed as part of the WFTO self-assessment process every two years.
Last reviewed: May 2019 by Jeremy Piercy MD