Our Sustainability Progress
We are always working to improve Miss Milly’s sustainability. Here’s some info on our progress and plans
Growing up wearing hand-me-downs from her older cousin and with a father who often asked why lights were on in unoccupied rooms, our founder, Sarah, has waste avoidance ingrained so the ongoing endeavour to make Miss Milly more sustainable is a positively accepted challenge.
We approach sustainability with a prioritised action list of reducing where we can, followed by reusing and finally, recycling. And we are sharing our actions with you in a format that shows what we have already introduced or actioned, what we are currently working on and, with full transparency, what we are struggling with.
In Spring 2022, Miss Milly proudly took part in the inaugural Small Business Britain ‘Sustainability Basics’ course working with Small99, Sustainable Pathways and Oxford Brookes University, and would heartily recommend it to all small businesses as a great resource and network for information and ideas.
What have we done?
- We have reduced the number of manufacturers we work with to three and all of these are located in the same city so that we can consolidate logistics where possible.
- We import stock by sea rather than air whenever possible.
- We have not used any polyester in our scarves for a few years now.
- We have moved to a new integrated website, ordering and bookkeeping system, which greatly reduces the amount of paper and ink we use.
- Majority of plastic jewellery packaging and scarf packaging was compostable. Having learned that home composting is only possible with a high heat source unavailable to most households, we have switched back to packaging that can be recycled with soft plastics at larger supermarkets as we feel this is more likely to happen.
- The warehouse uses DPD and Royal Mail for parcel delivery, the two top scoring courier businesses in the UK in terms of environmental impact.
- Replaced standard jiffy bags with FSC approved Jiffy Green ones.
- Replaced standard grip seal bags with oxo-biodegradable ones.
- Cycle to local meetings where possible instead of driving.
- Office heating is turned down or off and extra layers encouraged.
- Turning office sockets off at the wall overnight.
- Added to our email signature to say that we won’t reply to an email if it’s not necessary. Unnecessary emails emit 0.00001 tonnes of CO2 equivalent each. OVO Energy calculates that if every UK business user sent one less unnecessary email per day, it would equate to 16,433 tonnes/year or 81,152 flights from London Heathrow to Madrid.
- All waste paper printed on one side is reused for notes.
- All cardboard boxes are reused where possible.
- Grip seal bags are reused until they are no longer fit for purpose.
- The findings and chains from otherwise broken jewellery are kept to repair other broken pieces.
- Some of our broken jewellery is returned to the supplier for repair or reuse.
- All paper and cardboard is recycled after being reused if possible.
- All paper with confidential data is shredded and recycled.
- We have changed gift packaging supplier to one that uses FSC certified paper with all products being recyclable after use.
- We suggest that trade customers receiving faulty scarves (i.e., with a pull or snag) in their deliveries donate them to charity or sell cheaply rather than throwing them away.
- Some broken jewellery is donated to our local primary school for art and craft projects.
What are we doing?
- The Covid 19 pandemic has reduced our overseas travel to zero since June 2019 and once we can travel again, we will be halving our trips to visit suppliers from twice a year to once.
- Dispatching all retail order jewellery in gift boxes with the hope that they will be kept for storing the jewellery.
- Educating trade customers that most of our jewellery and scarf packaging is compostable.
- Replacing our grip seal bags with oxo biodegradable products.
Miss Milly is currently in carbon debt and working with Make It Wild to calculate our carbon emissions and offset these by planting trees in Yorkshire. The offsetting requirement should decrease each year as we reduce our emissions. We have no intention of greenwashing and recognise that offsetting is not a solution in itself but is a positive step that we are able to make whilst working on emission reduction.
We are also in the process of moving our payment provider to Stripe and will be looking at their Stripe Climate project, where users donate a percentage of sales to emerging carbon removal technologies.
What are we struggling with?
- Getting information from most of our UK and overseas suppliers about their practices and sustainability data, and encouraging them to work more sustainably.
- Getting information on more sustainable materials for our products that can be sourced by our suppliers, and that is before we even consider the cost impact.
- Finding out how to sustainably dispose of compostable and biodegradable plastics in bulk.
- The realisation that home compostable packaging requires high heat to biodegrade and therefore isn’t a great solution. It can also contaminate recyclable materials if disposed of with them. So we feel we’re back to square one with the product packaging and will continue to look for a replacement for plastic sleeves.