Sustainability and doing our bit

The global pandemic has thrown up so much soul searching for us here at Hoyle's. We want to change how we do things here for the better - for our team, our community, supply chain and the wider world around us. If we can encourage other small businesses, suppliers and customers to make positive changes to their own personal and professional habits, so much the better. Here's a few of the ways in which we're trying to make positive change. (For the most part, that means treating our team well, trying to reuse and reduce waste wherever we can, buying locally and from independent, sustainably minded companies - and supporting biodiversity and nature restoring projects as much as we can.)

We pay the Oxford Living Wage: we pay at least the Oxford Living Wage of £10.31 to all our employees. No ifs, no buts, it's the right thing to do.

We try to de-bias our hiring: we use the brilliant Applied's Job Description Tool to sense check our job descriptions when we hire, to create as fair and unbiased a candidate experience as possible. We also try to make our hours as flexible as possible for candidates with particular caregiving and travel needs (or any other for that matter). 

The Better Business Act: we are proud to support the Better Business Act, a campaign to change UK law to ensure that company directors are responsible for advancing the interests of shareholders alongside those of wider society and the environment. Hundreds of businesses have already signed up to create a cleaner, greener, fairer future for all. Together, we will ask for the government’s leadership to help deliver this new contract between business and society.

The Zero Hour Campaign: we support the Climate and Ecology bill (a Private Member's Bill first presented in the UK Parliament in September 2020 by Caroline Lucas MP, along with supporting MPs from seven political parties. Over the last year, it's gathered the backing of over 140 MPs and Peers from all major parties – as well as from hundreds of organisations, businesses and local councils). Find out what it stands for here and get involved!

Pensions and banking: we've just come across the brilliant Make My Money Matter campaign and we'll be making changes to our pensions and banking accordingly. We'll be changing our banking to Triodos.

Energy: as soon as our contract allows us to switch, we'll be doing so, heading to Octopus or Bulb.

 No more plastic bags: we've stopped buying single-use plastic bags, switching them for recycled paper ones. We have a few left still to run through (and we don't want to throw them away - even worse) but as soon as they're gone, they're gone. We've also just started working with Jericho Coffee Traders to repurpose their coffee sacks into reusable tote bags. Watch this space...

Reused and repurposed packaging: we try to reuse as many of the boxes sent to us by our suppliers wherever we can, but once they're no longer fit for purpose, we shred them to create padding for online orders heading out, reducing waste, and removing the need for new bubble-wrap too.

We use Moo for our business cards, made from recycled textile waste. We buy stickers and compliment slips from sustainable packaging supplier Noissue.

We try to have as paperless an office as possible, made easier by the wonderful Kate at We are Hived. (Thank you Kate!) We also compost as much as we can.

Kitchen and bathroom supplies: we've started shopping with Goodclub for the everyday supplies we use at Hoyle's - a low impact supplier with lots of great bulk-buy and zero waste options, including Ecoleaf, Cheeky Panda and Bio D. We also use Seep for plastic free kitchen sponges and scourers, and get our cleaning products (dissolvable sachets, so you never need to buy another single use plastic spray bottle) from the brilliant Smol. In the bathroom, we make Dame and Totm period care products available for our staff. (We also recommend Wild for deodorant and The Oxford Soap Company for plastic-free solid shampoo, conditioner and soap!)

Work lunches: we get a lot of delicious plant-based lunches from the brilliant Alpha Bar in the local Covered Market (you can also find them at The Vaults in the Radcliffe Square), where they happily fill up the tiffin lunch boxes we bring them, bought from local homeware shop Objects of Use. Caffeine fixes come from nearby Jericho Coffee Traders and Missing Bean who fill up our reusable coffee cups! 

Carbon offset: Ecologi: we're working with the carbon-offsetting heroes at Ecologi to plant a tree for every order over £10 customers make with us. The company publishes certificates each month showing how many tonnes of CO2 have been prevented from going into the atmosphere or removed from it. You can see these here. The standards of these projects are certified at the highest level by Gold Standard and their partners are regularly audited by third parties too - you can check out this annual audit for their Madagascan tree planting project.

On a personal note, we individually work with Wren.co to make our own, personal carbon footprints negative for about the cost of a coffee a week.

Carbon offset: CarbonClick: we’ve teamed up with the brilliant team at CarbonClick, a company making it easy for people and businesses to help fight climate change. CarbonClick looks like a green button at checkout and if you click it, a small contribution is added to your basket which purchases carbon offsets. These offsets reduce the environmental impact of the carbon emissions related to the purchase. CarbonClick’s offsets fund forest restoration, tree planting, and renewable energy projects around the world. We hope you’ll join us in creating a sustainable future, by choosing to CarbonClick with your purchase.

We're a Refill station: we'll refill anybody's water bottle for free (you don't even need to be a customer), to avoid more single-use plastic bottles being bought. See where else is offering the scheme using their app. When we're out and about ourselves, we use reusable water bottles from Ocean Bottle.

Greening the world around us - every little helps: we have a small courtyard behind our shop. Until the lockdown it was full of rubbish and unloved, but we're now turning it into a courtyard garden full of as many pots of pollinator-attracting flowers and herbs as we can fit in the space. Every little helps. We were inspired by Ron Finley across the pond, Knepp Wildland, The Queen's Green Canopy jubilee project, the RHS Sustainability Strategy and The Garden Jungle by Dave Goulson - among other great resources.

A few more sustainable recommendations: head to low-impact Oxwash for your laundry and install the Treeapp app to plant a tree a day for free!

We're trying to learn as much as we can about sustainability and have found How Bad are Bananas? by Mike Berners-Lee and Is It Really Green? by Georgina Wilson-Powell great practical guides.

For reassurance that good people are doing great things out there, we can also highly recommend checking out Positive.News, Happen Films, Sustainability Champions, the rewilding movement generally and a great book From What Is to What If. Pretty inspirational.

With very best wishes for your own efforts!