Sustainability

Collection of organic cotton food bags containing fruit, vegetables and nuts

Here at White Black Grey we're committed to doing our part to protect and conserve the environment. News of our changing climate becomes more alarming every day and even businesses as small as ours have a part to play in reducing emissions and cutting back on waste. 

We know this is a learning curve for all of us and we are constantly looking to improve. Please do get in touch if you have feedback or suggestions. We would love to hear from you (email address below).  

A few notes on where we're at right now:

Packaging

For an online store, packaging is hugely important. We want to ensure that our products are well protected and reach you in excellent condition.

From 2021 we committed to not purchasing ANY plastic packaging at all. So, if there's any plastic packaging in your order (including bubble wrap), please know that it is being reused, not bought new.

Here are the packaging materials that we use and some notes on how sustainable they are:

Branded tissue paper 

Branded tissue paper with the "White Black Grey" logo on it

Printed with soy-based inks. 30% recycled material, 70% new acid-free virgin pulp, FSC certified. Made in China.

Onward use / disposal options: reusable, recyclable and compostable.

 

Plain tissue paper 

Plain black and grey tissue paper. On top of the paper: a speckled grey ceramic coffee cup, a pair of gold scissors and a roll of washi tape

Acid-free recycled paper, made in the UK.

Onward use / disposal options: reusable, recyclable and compostable.  

 

Branded washi tape 

Two rolls of black and white washi tape, stacked on top of one another

Plastic free tape, made in China.

When our current supply of branded washi tape runs out, we plan to switch to using off-the-shelf washi tape and so eliminate the footprint associated with shipping our own bespoke tape from China.  

Onward use / disposal options: recyclable as paper.

 

Branded packing tape 

A roll of branded paper packing tape with the "White Black Grey" logoPlastic free tape, printed in the UK.

Onward use / disposal options: recyclable as paper.

 

Plain brown packing tape

Plastic free tape, sourced in the UK.

We are currently trying to find out where this tape is made.

Onward use / disposal options: recyclable as paper.

 

Corrugated cardboard packing 

A sheet of corrugated cardboard packaging. On top of the sheet, a black and white terrazzo vase and a pair of gold scissors

A plastic free alternative to bubble wrap. Made in the UK from 100% recycled paper.

Onward use / disposal options: reusable, recyclable and compostable. 

 

Packing paper

Newsprint ‘offcuts’, sourced in the UK.

We are currently trying to find out where this paper is made.

Onward use / disposal options: reusable, recyclable and compostable. 

 

Padded envelopes

A white corrugated paper envelope. Spilling out of it: a grey organic cotton kitchen cloth and a pack of monochrome compostable cloths

A plastic free alternative to “jiffy” bags, with corrugated paper, or recycled paper fibre, as padding instead of bubble wrap. 

Onward use / disposal options: reusable and recyclable.

 

Cardboard boxes

Single-wall brown cardboard boxes, made in the UK. At least 75% recycled material.

Onward use / disposal options: reusable, recyclable and compostable. 

 

Fragile stamp 

A wooden stamp reading "FRAGILE" and a black ink padIn 2021, we bought a “FRAGILE” stamp, which is reusable pretty much infinitely, and we no longer have to buy “Fragile” stickers.

 

Branded stickers

A sheet of round stickers printed with the "White  Black Grey" logo. One of the stickers has been peeled off and applied to a  jiffy bag.

Printed with soy-based inks. Acid-free paper made from FSC certified cellulose fiber. This means the active acid pulp is eliminated during processing; ink won’t transfer from stickers and paper won’t leave chemicals when decomposing.

Onward use / disposal options: recyclable and compostable.

Premises

We run White Black Grey from home (whilst we’re being transparent!), and home is in Devizes, Wiltshire. Behind the scenes here we reuse what we can to minimise waste as far as possible.

We have a 100% renewable tariff for electricity and from September 2022, we will have rooftop solar panels to generate our own electricity.  

Our office is as paperless as we can possibly manage and any paper we do use (from office paper to our business cards) is either recycled or FSC certified.

Products / Supply Chain

In terms of our products, we work with suppliers who share our environmental and ethical concerns wherever possible. Much of our stock comes from independent designer-makers, is made by hand, or is manufactured using sustainable/ethical materials.

 A young white woman in a russet coloured top sanding down the edge of a square coaster

Most of the products we stock are chosen for their quality and timeless design. We hope that you will cherish them for years to come. We are increasing our range of sustainable / reusable products all the time.

A taupe coloured soap bar sitting on an oval soap dish. The dish has a black and white terrazzo pattern made from recycled mussel shells

When products go out of stock, we will always assess them from (an increasingly stringent) environmental perspective before deciding to restock them. For example, we have wound down our selection of concrete products over the last year. Whilst we LOVE the aesthetic of concrete, it is a very emissions-heavy material and therefore we determined that it did not meet our goals to become a more sustainable company.  

Lifestyle photo of a breakfast tray on a bed. The bedding is white with a grey blanket. The tray is black and rectangular. On the tray a white terrazzo vase with dried plants, a plate with 2 pastries,  2 mugs, one grey, one white, and a grey cloth

With some products, we know we need to do better. For example, our range of black trays from Denmark are made from PUR rubber, which is polyurethane. This material is derived from fossil fuels. Whilst it’s a far cry from single-use plastic (these trays are versatile, will always look tasteful and they are basically indestructible), we aspire to do better. At the moment, these trays are far and away our bestselling range, so simply making the choice to stop stocking them is not straightforward – we’d literally go out of business…!  

Offsetting

As with any business, there are emissions that we cannot eliminate. We are working on improvements all the time, but for the pesky remainder, the best option right now is offsetting. We know that offsetting can be problematic, and should not take the place of emissions reduction, but we believe that offsetting as an AND is better than not offsetting at all.

From August 2019 to February 2022, we planted trees, making a monthly donation to One Tree Planted. Find out all about it here. In this time, we planted a total of 1,396 trees.

A small sapling in a mound of earth

From March 2022, we have switched to Greenspark as our offsetting partner. With them, so far (in June 2022), we have planted 206 trees and removed 114 plastic bottles from the ocean.  

To learn more about the Greenspark project, go here.

Since May 2021, we have additionally been using the Shopify Offset scheme (now called ‘Planet’) to offset carbon emissions associated with shipping your orders. The funds we donate under this scheme are used for reforestation and carbon capture projects.


We are always looking to improve our approach to sustainability and reduce our emissions, so if you have any feedback, questions, comments or suggestions, please do get in touch: hello@whiteblackgrey.co.uk 

Greenspark Public Impact Profile