Green Blue You … One Year On!
It has been one whole year since we launched Green Blue You and we can’t believe how fast the time has gone! It’s been an exciting journey and on our ‘birthday’, we are taking a breath to look back at the last year as well as forwards to what we would like to do next! But first, up front, we want to say a massive thank you to all our customers. We have been so touched by the positive feedback and support we have received, and by the number of repeat customers and new customers each week. It has been great meeting lots of you on our rounds and at our pop ups too. Thank you so much for being on this journey with us.
With our backgrounds in conservation and environmental sustainability, setting up Green Blue You felt like a great way to help our communities to access ethical, eco-friendly products and refills in a convenient way. We also wanted to help customers access transparent information about products, their ingredients and sustainability. We know that it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the big climate and environment challenges out there, but we do firmly believe that our individual actions and choices are important and we wanted to help customers with these, whilst also learning ourselves. We were also determined to make our own operations as green as possible, and have worked hard to address challenges to this along the way- from reviewing sustainability of products (and asking tough questions of suppliers when needed!), giving advice on disposal, packaging and, of course, delivery.
So where have we got to. We now have a regular and busy refill and deliveries round, which is expanding. We have done numerous pop-up events in Histon, Girton, Waterbeach, Milton, and will hopefully soon be trialling a regular pop-up in Eddington. We have refilled into almost 1,500 bottles saving a huge amount of single use plastic and sold 1000s of eco friendly products such as shampoo bars, toothpaste tablets and deodorants. We have worked with charities and businesses to help them use sustainable products, and we have presented at events to communicate our ideas. We have cycled many 100s, if not 1000s, of miles and we have loved posting #WildWednesday pics on social media every week. And we are really pleased to have been able to run campaigns to help donations to food banks and to other charities. Of course there have been challenges (and punctures!) along the way, but that's all part of the journey.
As our business has developed, we have continued to update advice on product packaging and disposal. Giving advice on product disposal isn’t always easy and it varies widely from one local authority to another. We are overcoming this by putting specific information on our website against individual products and working with the suppliers and local waste officers to ensure we are providing the right information. Packaging has also been a challenge – not all companies (particularly some of the wholesalers of eco products) are sustainable across their trade operations, and we have had to cease using one supplier when we were unable to resolve our concerns on their packaging with them.
We have cycled many hundreds of miles, and absolutely loved getting out on our bikes and trailers- even in the worst of our UK weather! We were really determined from the start to make our delivery and refill service sustainable. And while it was fantastic to start, as we have scaled up, it has fairly quickly become inefficient on busy refill days, with several return trips back to re-stock the trailer, and limited our ability to service requests in a wider area. We are delighted to have finally got our electric van! It took a while, with demand currently outstripping supply in the new and second-hand electric van markets, but we are very excited about the opportunity this brings us to expand our business.
It feels very important say something about cost, particularly against the cost-of-living challenges and hardship that people are facing. Some environmentally friendly products are more expensive, as they use more expensive ingredients or processes (and many mainstream products don’t take the environmental cost into consideration in their pricing). And all our suppliers have been hit by rising prices of energy, rent and raw materials in recent months. That said, refilling containers can very often offer a cost-effective way of buying products, and is cheaper than new containers, including in comparison to many mainstream brands. Reusable products, such as period pants, can lead to longer term cost savings. Our approach to pricing is to try to offer our customers a range of options at the best prices we can. Where we have been able to benefit from a supplier offer then we pass this on to our customers with discounts whenever possible, and we do periodic promotions when we can.
So what next? We are very excited that we have now expanded our refill and delivery service – we will continue to promote and develop our refills as a key way of encouraging re-use of containers, and with products that have sustainably sourced ingredients. We are really keen to expand our work with businesses – do get in touch if you would be interested in working with us. And of course we will raise our glass – here’s to Year 2 of Green Blue You!
Sarah Smith and Sarah Ferriss