Saturday 13th July saw us taking to our favourite Old Spitalfields Market for our first Zero Waste Goods summer market. It was a great opportunity for us to rub shoulders with other like-minded ethical brands as well as many conscientious shoppers who are well on their way to living a more sustainable lifestyle.
© Matt Trinetti & Zero Waste Goods
The conversations that took place during the day gave us a chance to debate what zero waste is and what it has the potential to become. Single-use plastic was done away with in favour of more environmentally friendly alternatives, especially with regards to packaging. The ingenuity that’s taking place in this space is really exciting. It's worth mentioning that we're no stranger to innovative packaging; Socko labels are made from recycled coffee cups, hand-stitched onto our socks using waste cotton and our postage is compostable or recyclable (depending on the size of the order) and tape-free.
The Rochdale in its sustainable packaging
Being sustainable is not always the cheapest option but it’s important to our customers and to our planet. As more people become aware of the plight facing our seas, forests and creatures, we want to be at the forefront of change, countering rather than adding to the problem.
A lot of blame and finger pointing can crop up when people are trying to make change. The expectation of perfection is rife but good enough is always better than perfect. In the same way that the tech industry launches a minimum viable product and builds on it, Socko would still be a pipe dream if we hadn’t set a date for launch.
Two other events that we were fortunate enough to attend this week (we’ve been busy!) were a “lunch and learn” with the passionate and astute Alex Furey from Zero Waste Mindset and a Circular Business Masterclass held by the fantastic minds of Advance London at the London Waste and Recycling Board.
A team exercise at LWARB's Circular Business Masterclass
All three events highlighted different issues within the same theme: The plight of single-use plastics, how recycling is postponing rather than solving and some scary statistics – The equivalent of one rubbish truck of textiles is landfilled or incinerated every second according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation - but with each event we were spurred on to evaluate Socko’s existing activities and potential opportunities.
There are so many components to ‘sustainable’ that you have to prioritise. You can do your best to make a product that is organic, recycled, recyclable, carbon neutral, locally sourced, philanthropic, vegan, fair trade (the list goes on) and not to mention accredited in all of these, all at the same time, but ultimately this won’t save the world.
What the world needs is many people trying to do things well rather than a select few doing it perfectly. Striving for perfection will ultimately be your downfall as you come up against conflicting ethics. Our advice is to pick your battles. Pick what matters most to your customers and to your brand and be single-minded about doing this in the best way you can.
At times it may feel as if we cannot make waves as one person but it’s through sticking firm to our ideals, through sharing them with others and listening to them that we can steer the course. Through asking questions, through curiosity and knowledge, we will support the businesses that need our support, whose ethics align with our own, and by voting with our carefully considered purchases, governments and conglomerates will have no choice but to make more monumental shifts.