Eco startup needs your vote

Reducing plastic waste is a challenge for everyone, but particularly for the world’s second largest plastic polluter, Indonesia. Among the initiatives tackling this problem, Siklus is a new startup that needs your help. Their ocean plastic solution is competing for a grant of $25,000. Its success depends only on your vote

The social enterprise offers refills of everyday essentials that they deliver door-to-door by bicycle. Customers order via an app or over WhatsApp. When the refill station arrives they can use their own containers to top up on products from mainstream brands. 

Its founder Jane Von Rabenau created the startup after witnessing firsthand the impact of plastic waste in India. She said: “A lot of my friends were purchasing everyday goods in sachets and were paying a higher price. 

“They lived in neighbourhoods which lacked waste management and so a lot of plastic was just burnt, which causes diseases and blocks drainage systems, leading to floods. It was at that point I knew that I wanted to do more about this issue.”


A mounting plastic problem

One day, in the Philippines, Jane was using a machine which refills water bottles in exchange for coins and she wondered why this wasn’t done for more products. 

After moving to Indonesia a year ago and starting to learn about local plastic waste problems, the need for such initiatives became even more evident to her. In 2017, 47 per cent of the country’s plastic waste was burned, only ten percent was recycled, and this year, it produced 6.8 million tons of discarded plastic.

“Citizens are fed up with this. They are suffering because of it and desperately want a solution. So we hope that Siklus is able to help at least some of those people,” Jane added. 

To realise this vision, the organisation worked hard, scaling up their operations and reaching out to big brands such as Nestlé to build their offering to include washing detergent, shampoo and cooking oil.

Without the needless packaging, the refills work out cheaper than buying products from supermarkets, something that obviously creates an added appeal for shoppers. 

“The customer response has been overwhelming. People really like the idea of getting products cheaper but also of making their country cleaner and greener,” said Jane.

Competing for change

The organisation is competing for a grant from Solution Search, a contest that uses crowdfunding to build the capacity of initiatives blending behavioral science with conservation, and community action.

Vote for Siklus in the Water Pollution and Behaviour Change contest here or browse other competitors here.

Find more information about Siklus and sign up for deliveries here.


Search engine launches tree planting service

The non-profit and green alternative to Google search engine, Ecosia, announced this month that it is branching out to offer tree planting services to businesses. 

They urge companies to get in touch to find out how the Ecosia Trees initiative can help them take back some of the carbon they are emitting into the atmosphere through this natural form of carbon capture, something innovators are straining themselves to reproduce synthetically.

Ecosia’s editorial lead Joshi Gottlieb wrote: “We already have a highly effective carbon capture technology — trees. Planting, protecting and restoring forest ecosystems captures and stores carbon, cools the planet, and protects biodiversity.”

Welcoming the initiative, the UN’s head of nature for the climate branch of their environment programme said: “As we kick off the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, it’s great to see Ecosia launching a new tree planting service, an example of an organization that is focused on planting the right trees where they are needed most. It’s this kind of collaboration that will help us turn the tide on deforestation.”


Growing opportunities for carbon capture

Ecosia’s new initiative allows businesses and organisations to purchase trees for €1 per sapling. This fee covers the monitoring of the tree for three years by satellite, with geo-tagged evidence and through visits. 

After this period the tree will have grown strong enough to survive in the long-term. If it doesn’t survive this period they replace it for free.

By investing in Ecosia’s tree planting, companies are rewarded with the knowledge that they have done at least something for the planet, while their other activities might not be quite so environmentally nourishing. 

Joshi Gottlieb explained: “Ecosia trees are planted to restore ecosystems and help communities who are feeling the effects of the climate crisis, not to offset emissions or help companies engage in greenwashing.”

Companies get a certificate, quarterly impact reports and regular opportunities to connect with the team working on the ground to plant trees.


Reducing the internet’s carbon footprint

Going paperless with the internet is not as green as you might think. In fact the carbon footprint of our internet and device use along with the systems supporting them accounts for roughly 3.7 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. This is not far off the impact of the aviation industry. 

Ecosia is an internet search engine which uses ad revenue from users’ searches to plant trees in biodiverse and ecologically sensitive areas. Since it was founded in 2009, the social business has planted over 126 million trees.

Find more information about Ecosia’s impact here.

Businesses wanting to help plant more trees should get in touch here.



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Adidas launches low-carbon shoe

Adidas alongside eco-conscious shoe brand Allbirds has launched the first in a collaboration, Futurecraft Footprint. This new shoe is designed so that it emits just 2.94kg of CO2 per pair, making it the lowest carbon emitting shoe the two companies have managed to produce as part of their mission to create zero carbon footwear.   

By developing this new design they have reduced carbon emissions from the production process by 63 per cent.

“Our partnership with allbirds is a beacon of what can happen when competing brands from the same industry see the possibilities in coming together to design,” said Brian Grevy at Adidas. 

He added: “By truly co-creating and providing each other with open access to knowledge and resources – such as allbirds’ knowledge of carbon calculation and experience with natural materials, and adidas’ capabilities in manufacturing and performance footwear – this is a call-to-action for other brands, and a milestone in the sports industry achieving carbon neutrality.”


Shrinking your footprint in style

In 12 months the two companies worked diligently to reimagine every part of the production process and how they source materials to reduce the impact of their standard shoe design as much as possible.

The shoe’s upper material is made with 70 per cent recycled polyester and 30 per cent natural Tencel, a material made from wood pulp. 

“We believe that the challenge of solving climate change is the problem of our generation and solving it will not be done alone. We need to find new business models, new innovations and new ways of working together,” said co-founder and co-CEO of Allbirds Tim Brown.

“Our partnership with Adidas is an example of that. Over the past year, our two teams have raced as one to create a shoe as close to zero carbon emissions as we could possibly achieve. The results are an exciting step forward, and hopefully, an example for others to follow.”

“With this project, less really was more,” said a senior footwear designer at Adidas, Florence Rohart. “To keep minimalist not only in materials but also in construction, we went to extremes and left only what we really needed on the shoe to keep the performance properties.” 

“Both the upper and the outside construction are inspired by the Tangram Principle, with all individual parts in their entirety achieving as little scrap as possible in production in order to reduce waste,” added head of design at Allbirds Jamie McLellan.  

The companies released the shoe in May with a raffle of 100 pairs to Adidas Creators Club members. This will be followed by a release of 10,000 pairs, and a wider release in the summer of 2022. 



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Retailers to ditch paper receipts

Responding to a demand from UK shoppers who show strong preference for paperless receipts, major retailers are opting for online alternatives. 

River Island, Holland & Barrett and Dunelm are the first retailers to join the #BeatTheReceipt’s Paperless Pledge. The initiative will reduce paper waste and related carbon emissions, following research that found over half of UK shoppers would prefer paperless receipts.

Samantha Lind, campaigner at Beat The Receipt, said: “Paper receipts account for tens of thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions every single year, and most of them end up straight in the bin. This is the retail industry’s ‘plastic straw’ moment, we’ve woken up to the damage we’re doing to the environment and it’s time for drastic change.

“Customers want it, the retail industry can benefit from it, and our planet needs it. With legislation and public sentiment changing, and sustainability at the forefront of minds, it’s time for retailers in the UK to unite in support of the Paperless Pledge and help Beat the Receipt.” 

More than 11.2 billion receipts are printed each year in the UK, equating to 200,000 trees deforested and generating over 28,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

By joining the initiative, retailers will make paper receipts fully optional by 2023. At present the majority of tills automatically print a paper receipt, even if the customer decides they don’t need or want one. 

#BeatTheReceipt is appealing to retailers to end automatic printing before 2023. Instead, those who commit to the pledge will only print one upon the request of a customer. 

This campaign responds directly to findings of The Carbon Trust, which discovered that each paper receipt emits 2.5g in carbon emissions throughout its journey from the till to a landfill site. In the UK over 30 million receipts are printed on a daily basis.

Reiterating the need for paperless receipts, #BeatTheReceipt learnt that 51 per cent of British shoppers would prefer paperless receipts and 52 per cent think retailers should reduce paper wasted on receipts. 

A great responsibility

While the majority of customers show an interest in purchasing more sustainable products, only six per cent of them actually act on this desire. Therefore the onus is on retailers to offer exclusively sustainable options.

Sustainability expert Helena Mansell-Stopher advised: “Companies need to look at the volume of products that they’re creating and eliminate the easiest things first. That’s why a lot of businesses are looking at plastics, especially packaging.”

Beat the Receipt is an initiative founded by eco-minded campaigners that encourages corporations to take a small step towards sustainability by ditching automatic paper receipts. 

For more information on Beat the Receipt visit To sign up to the pledge and pave the way to business within planetary boundaries add your company’s name here.



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Doubly sustainable denim sofas

Giving new life to old denim, Ikea has partnered with Dutch circular textiles company MUD Jeans. Together they have launched a new Klippan sofa, 40 per cent of which is furnished with recycled denim. 

By incorporating used jeans into the sofa cover, the manufacturers save 27,000 litres of water and reduce the carbon footprint of each product by 67 per cent. 

“Offering new sofa covers made from recycled materials, we can help customers to renew their sofa and reuse materials,” said Piotr Jakubiak, a deployment leader at Ikea, Sweden. “We are happy to work together with MUD Jeans to make the Klippan sofa cover with recycled denim.”

Each sofa cover uses the equivalent of two pairs of jeans. The product will be available for purchase in Ikea stores across the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, France, and Italy.


Producing within the planet’s limits

Made from cotton and synthetic dyes, denim usually takes a heavy toll on the environment. The production of just one pair of jeans, using contemporary techniques, requires 1500 gallons of water. To add to this, metal accessories often make denim wear difficult to recycle. 

The European denim market alone sees about 500 million sales in pairs of jeans every year. On average, each European owns seven pairs of jeans, two of which are never worn. 

But the worst is that most owners discard their unused jeans rather than sending them to charity shops. This means they end up in landfill or are incinerated. The material from less than one per cent of this waste is transformed into new clothing.

Brands such as Levi’s and H&M are only just starting to promote denim reuse. The retailers are switching to partly recycled collections, environmentally-friendly dyes and technology to reduce water waste. 

MUD Jeans offers an alternative source of eco-conscious clothing, produced under ethical working standards and without as much waste. They use 92 per cent less water than average denim companies and every pair of jeans produced is recycled into new clothing. 

Leading Ikea’s drive to steer the company in a direction that incorporates planetary limits is Malin Nordin, head of circular development at Inter Ikea Group. She said: “Ikea wants to grow within the boundaries of the planet. We believe all materials are valuable and should not be wasted. 

“By joining forces with MUD Jeans, we can work together to secure new sources of recycled materials, and develop products using post-consumer materials such as recycled jeans. By working together, we are exploring ways to minimize waste and reduce our impact on the planet.”

The Klippan sofa is just the first in a series of recycled products that will emerge from the partnership. 

Find the Klippan sofa here.

For more information and to shop MUD Jeans visit



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Kew Gardens commit to climate positive

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, one of the country’s leading gardens, have released a manifesto for change committing to become climate positive by 2030.

Rather than simply reach net zero for their carbon emissions the next decade, the organisation intends to go further and have a positive impact.

Leaders plan to rapidly reduce the organisation’s carbon footprint and use its trusted voice, alongside a workforce of leading plant scientists and network of global partnerships, to call for the change needed to tackle the environmental emergency.

The organisation, which has bases in London, Sussex and Madagascar, will seek to reduce emissions as rapidly as possible and more-than-offset any unavoidable emissions by investing in nature-based carbon sinks.

Director of RBG Kew, Richard Deverell, explained: “This new strategy and commitment to be climate positive by 2030 is the culmination of many years of work.

“Tackling the environmental emergency must sit at the very heart of everything we do and as a global plant science institution and visitor attraction we have a unique responsibility to act now.

“Failing to take urgent action will cost us severely and will leave us unprepared for the unprecedented challenges of the decades to come. This is just the start of a journey in which we will all need to play our part.”

Kew intends to make several changes to their operations, including generating renewable energy from solar panels on the roof of the Millennium Seed Bank in Sussex, and upgrading the two Kew Explorer vehicles on site at Kew Gardens to 100% electric power.

Other actions include Installing the first net-zero-ready electric heat pump at Kew Gardens and eliminating the vast majority of single-use plastic from food and drink outlets.

Rachel Purdon, Head of Sustainability at RBG Kew added: “The environmental emergency requires more rapid and significant changes to the way we do things at Kew, at home, and across society.

“We cannot do this alone.  We want everyone to share the urgency and the commitment to change that underpins our ambitious new strategy.

“Cross-sector partnerships and collaborations are vital, as is the engagement and action of our supporters and visitors in bringing about the change we desperately need to see to save our planet.”

For more information visit Kew’s website or follow them on Twitter.



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Tanzanian farmers use app to save crops

Two nonprofits have teamed up in the Serengeti region of Tanzania to provide farmers with smartphones and an app to help them spot pests and diseases which could destroy their crops.

Hope for Girls and Women, an organisation seeking to end FGM in Tanzania worked with PlantVillage to help farmers protect their crops, and also to educate rural communities and start conversations around gender based violence.

A two-day training session was held for 20 farmers from the region in April 2021, with sessions on learning how to spot common pests and diseases and ways to increase crop production.

Training was also provided on using the app, both to report pests and diseases and to receive support and advice from the PlantVillage team and other farmers on how to manage them.

At the end of the event all of the farmers were given smartphones and signed an agreement to also use them to support the reporting of both FGM and gender based violence cases.

The project has been supported by the Tanzania Development Trust, a charity that has funded development projects within Tanzania since 1975.

Agness Marinya is the digital champion for the Burunga village, and uses the app to check her crops. She said: “It is an easy way to monitor crops and gives you feedback on how crops grow, and I will provide training to other farmers in my village.

“With better agriculture people are less likely to need to cut their daughters and sell them for cows.  I have three children, all girls. I am so proud of my work as a digital champion in Burunga, because there have been so many changes in my village.

“Now the number of girls who are cut is reduced. We all need to raise our voices to say no so our children can live free from FGM.”

To find out more about the initiative visit the Tanzania Development Trust website or follow them on Twitter.



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Aldi trials soft plastic recycling

Helping customers recycle plastic items that usually get binned, Aldi is trialing its first network of recycling stations for soft plastics in some of its stores in the North of England and East Midlands.

The UK’s fifth-largest supermarket is introducing the new bins to 20 of its shops across Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Greater Manchester. This will allow customers to tackle plastic waste, sustainably disposing of soft plastic items such as crisp packets, which don’t usually get recycled.

“We know our customers are environmentally conscious, and as a responsible retailer, we are always striving to reduce plastic waste wherever possible,” said Richard Gorman, plastics and packaging director at Aldi UK. “Our latest trial is another step in the right direction, as we work towards being able to offer shoppers an option to bring back to our stores problem plastic that might not be recycled by their local councils.”


A recycling reject

The vast majority of councils across the country do not recycle soft plastics, meaning that the bins offer customers a rare opportunity to recycle plastic items such as crisp packets, salad bags, bread bags and carrier bags – regardless of where they purchased the items. 

Engagement manager at recycling not-for-profit WRAP, Helen Bird,said: “While plastic bags and wrapping makes up around a fifth of consumer plastic packaging, only six per cent of it is recycled. UK Plastics Pact members, representing the vast majority of plastic packaging sold by supermarkets, have committed for all of it to be recyclable by 2025.

“In future years local authorities will collect this material for recycling, but in the meantime supermarkets are able to provide recycling points for plastic bags and wrapping to the many citizens who want to recycle all that they can. It’s great to see Aldi trialling how this can be achieved.”

The supermarket will collaborate with its recycling partner to establish the best means of processing the plastics.  


Next steps for recycling            

Depending on the trial’s success, Aldi will introduce the recycling bins to all its 900 UK stores, spreading the potential for tackling soft plastic waste.

“We will be monitoring the trial closely, and we hope that customers utilise our collection bins so that we can look at expanding this into more stores,” added Gorman.

The trial is the latest step taken by the supermarket towards its goal of making 100 per cent of its own-label packaging reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2022.

The move comes after Tesco started rolling out recycling points for soft plastics earlier this year. Initially creating recycling points in 171 stores across South West England and Wales, the supermarket plans to then expand the initiative across the country.

Tesco introduced the recycling points after a 10-store trial in which customers exceeded expectations, returning more than 10 times the predicted amount of plastic. The waste plastic already collected has been used to manufacture food-grade packaging for a variety of Tesco cheeses.



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“A healthy ocean is key to our existence”

In good news for marine life, philanthropists are backing a new conservation project to protect at least 30 per cent of our oceans by 2030, a global target expected to be officially adopted at the United Nations Biodiversity Conference this October. 

The initiative, The Blue Nature Alliance, will cover 18 million square kilometers (seven million square miles) of ocean, twice the area of continental US and more than the landmass of South America. This makes it one of the world’s largest ocean conservation projects.

“A healthy ocean is key to our existence,” said Aulani Wilhelm, senior vice president of Oceans for Conservation International. “It provides nutrition and employment for a majority of people around the world and half of the oxygen each of us breathes. 

“Yet significantly less of our ocean is protected when compared to land. We must collaborate globally, in partnership with local governments and indigenous peoples, to make the conservation of our ocean a priority. The time is now to take big practical action to move this work forward.”


Uniting for the planet

The project launched thanks to founding organisations Conservation International, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and the Global Environment Facility, alongside philanthropists’ foundations Minderoo Foundation, and the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation. 

“Melani and I care deeply about the future of our planet and the communities that depend on nature for their health, livelihoods and culture,” said Rob Walton, co-founder of the Rob and Melani Walton Foundation. “That’s why we are pleased to be part of the Blue Nature Alliance – which brings together philanthropists, businesses, governments and NGOs to substantially increase and improve ocean conservation. Now is a critical time. The ocean is under immense pressure, and we all have a responsibility to help safeguard it.”

In addition to its five founding organisations and philanthropists, the network boasts conservation experts, scientists, and financial strategists. These include Big Ocean, the Global Island Partnership, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Murphy Family Foundation, Nekton, Oceana, Ocean Unite, the Tiffany & Co. Foundation, and SkyLight Surveillance and Enforcement Technology.

Tom Dillon, senior vice president for environment at The Pew Charitable Trusts said: “From the coastlines to the high seas, we need to tackle conservation holistically and in partnership. Our collective efforts will help secure a healthy ocean that is more resilient to climate change and yields benefits to both nature and people. 

“To boost biodiversity, fisheries, and economies, the Blue Nature Alliance will work with partners globally to apply science and lessons learned, and build on best practices to conserve our ocean at scale. We need this type of ambition to address the challenges facing our ocean today.”


Expanding ocean conservation

The areas covered by the Blue Nature Alliance include Fiji’s Lau Seascape, Antarctica’s Southern Ocean, and Tristan da Cunha. Here the initiative has joined forces with governments and other partners to protect over 4.8 million square kilometers (1.9 million square miles) of the ocean. 

These efforts will expand to cover Canada, Palau, Seychelles, and the Western Indian Ocean, to protect nearly 2 million square kilometers (734,000 square miles) of the ocean. 

They expect to add an additional 18 sites to this list, spanning North and South America, Europe, and the Asian Pacific region. The organisation will announce its next locations in the summer of 2021, building towards its 2030 target.

At present less than 10 per cent of the world’s ocean is protected. The 30 percent goal is widely agreed upon as the minimum required for our oceans to continue supporting people and the planet.

“Conserving 30 percent of the world’s land and sea in the coming decade will require all of us to work together, with science as our North Star,” said Carlos Manuel Rodriguez, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility. 

“It is heartening to see collaborative work underway in the South Atlantic, South Pacific, and Antarctica’s Southern Ocean, and with work about to begin in even more locations around Palau, Seychelles, Canada, and the Western Indian Ocean.”


An ocean of knowledge

To achieve its goal, the Blue Nature Alliance is creating a global network to learn from previous conservation successes and innovate new ocean conservation methods. It will incorporate traditional knowledge and the needs of local communities and governments.

“Engaging with local communities is essential to the long-term success of ocean conservation efforts,” said Dr. Tony Worby, CEO of Flourishing Oceans at Australia’s Minderoo Foundation. “Local communities rely on the ocean directly for livelihoods, cultural activities and recreation, so it is critical that they are involved in decision making that supports long-term sustainability. A measure of success for the Blue Nature Alliance will be to build community support for ocean conservation measures that are enduring.”

For more information about the initiative visit



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Oddbox to save 150K tonnes of food waste

Putting the planet on track to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals of halving food waste by 2030, food delivery scheme Oddbox aims to rescue 150,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables by 2025.

The sustainable and ethical retailer sources perfectly edible rejects from the mainstream grocery market and delivers them to the front doors of eco-minded buyers. In doing so, the initiative has saved nearly 11,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables from going to waste since its launch in 2016.

“We want to see a world where no food – whether “too big”, “too dinky”, “too dimpled” or, as is so often the case, simply “too much” – goes to waste. Which is why we’re excited to be working towards new, ambitious goals,” said co-founders Emilie Vanpoperinghe and Deepak Ravindran (pictured).

Oddbox set out its 2025 food waste goal in a report which also announced its plans to become even more sustainable. The charity will share more information about its customers’ impact, along with tips for how to go zero waste at home and stories about their growers to connect them with the public.

One such story comes from Jack Buck Farms. Their worker Julian explained: “We’ve been growing celeriac since 1986 when we introduced it to the UK. Back then it was only really known in Europe – now it’s a much-loved ingredient in both family kitchens and restaurants. We also grow fennel and chard, and – believe it or not – over 50 million daffodil stems every year. So it’s not all ugly stuff. 

“Obviously the last year has put a stop to most of our restaurant trade, so we’re really happy Oddbox has been rescuing our leftover crops so they don’t go to waste. It really makes a big difference to farmers like us.”


Greener groceries

In addition to their food waste reduction goal, Oddbox also plans to cut their carbon footprint by five per cent per box of fruit and vegetable deliveries. In 2021 they will transition to electric vehicles, switch their warehouse to renewable energy, and develop ways to maximise lorry space and minimise the number of journeys required.

By 2025 they hope to deliver boxes with a fully electric fleet of vehicles and by 2030 they aim to achieve net zero emissions.

The organisation serves people as well as the planet, donating their surplus to food distribution charities City Harvest and the Felix Project.

These two organisations fight hunger and aim for zero waste by rescuing surplus food and delivering it to vulnerable people suffering from food insecurity in London. 

To help tackle food waste while providing disadvantaged communities with healthy meals, donate to the Felix Project or City Harvest.



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