This week the British Heart Foundation (BHF) was the proud winner of the Charity Retail Association’s award for Greenest Charity Retailer of the Year.
The win comes after a strong year in which they have made big strides in our commitment to being an environmentally aware retailer.
Attending the Charity Retail Association Awards at Colwick Hall, Nottingham, was Sustainability Manager David Roman, who has been leading their strategy to become greener and was thrilled to see the hard work of staff and volunteers recognised.
Since joining the charity in 2012 David has implemented many of the innovative commitments that have helped make the charity’s retail arm a more sustainable and environmentally friendly operation.
One such initiative is the charity’s dedication to zeroing in on waste by introducing a lower price band on products which are more likely to be recycled, such as CDs and DVDs, and rolling out homewares recycling to 90% of their shops.
As with many other retailers on the high street, they have significantly reduced the single use of plastic bags across their retail estate, trialling alternatives to plastic for carriers, donation bags and for internal use such as storage and rotation of stock.
The commitment to lowering plastic has also reached packaging and product review. Earlier this year they introduced a ‘pocket money toys’ range after finding small donated toys were proving harder to sell and often ended up being recycled. To combat this, they created pocket money toy bags with several smaller toys inside, which are now being sold for £1/£2. The bags for these are made from a clear bioplastic derived from wood pulp, which is completely compostable.
In line with the wider charity’s commitment to lowering pollution, the retail operation – which relies on vans to assist with the collection of bulkier donations and to deliver customer purchases – has also signed up to the Clean Van Commitment, pledging to switch to zero tailpipe emissions vans in cities by 2028 and reducing van packs by 98%.
Keen to ensure that no stone is left unturned, they have also asked for individual pledges and suggestions internally, so that staff have the opportunity to put forward ideas too.
David Roman, Sustainability Manager at the British Heart Foundation says:
‘This is an exciting time. As well as the huge environmental good that our stores do through re-use of donations, we are taking action on plastics, driving down our waste and listening hard to staff, volunteers and supporters on how we can reduce any negative impacts. This award recognises what a lot of hard work in our sort rooms and on our shop floors has achieved. It also motivates us to do more.’
The charity have also been part of the wider conversation around sustainability on the high-street, continuing to roll out messaging across marketing and PR, demonstrating its work to rescue items from landfill, encouraging shoppers to consider buying pre-loved and corporate organisations to donate stock to them.
Statistics from the Charity Retail Association show that charity shops are able to reuse or recycle more than 90% of donated clothing. Last year, they saved over 74,000 tonnes of items from landfill from sofas and mattresses to designer clothes and electrical goods.
With 738 shops nationwide, the shops offer everything from hidden vintage gems to one off pieces for a fraction of the ‘bought new’ price. Every pre-loved item sold will help fund vital research to improve the lives of the millions of people living with heart and circulatory disease in the UK.