Is it a bit late to be wishing you a Happy New Year? I had fully indented to get back on the blog train in the first week of Jan but, just… didn’t! I know I’m meant to write these things months in advance as per my media plan (*mustfill that in*) but my brain just doesn’t work like that. This one’s been rattling around in there for some time. Now that I’ve (just about) figured out what I want to say, here goes…
FERMENTED BY LAB IS A LOW IMPACT BUSINESS
(Or at least I’m trying my hardest to make it one).
That’s actually a bolder statement than it seems. So many people and business claim to be low impact (just check the popularity of the #hashtag) but when it comes down to it, are they really?
The health and longevity of this planet means a lot to me. As humans living on planet earth, we’re faced with hundreds of daily decisions about whether we contribute to the harm of this planet, or don’t. The media surrounding the many ways in which we can save Planet Earth has been hard to ignore this past year. Amen to that. But it’s hard not to become completely overwhelmed by it all, eh! When running a business, that personal responsibility multiplies and the overwhelm quickly becomes paralysing. It often boils down to a toss-up between profit/ease vs. doing right by the planet. Annoying that it’s got to be that way. Something that’s been at the forefront of FBL since launching in 2017 has been to always do right by the planet where I could. The idea of doing it and actually doing it, has been much harder than I’d imagined (again, profit/time vs. doing the right thing). So is FBL actually a low impact business, or is it just a bullsh*t hashtag I use to increase visibility?!
HOW I IDENTIFY FBL AS A LOW IMPACT BUSINESS
As with most things in life, identifying FBL as a low impact business is a work in progress. In the spirit of being ‘transparent’ (another business buzzword!), I’ve listed out the ways in which I’m reducing waste; using less; looking after the planet, the people I work with and myself; etc. I’ve also listed the areas I’d like to improve upon. Again, in the spirit of transparency.
Plastics: I keep the use of single-use plastic to an absolute minimum and recently switchedfrom using plastic protective packaging in the mail-order boxes to fully degradable (and previously recycled) cardboard. That’s been a total game changer – even as a small fish, it’s amazing how much less single use plastic FBL is producing.
Reducing Food waste: I compost what can’t be used and am now experimenting with ways to save even more from the compost heap. I tend to post about what I’m doing over on my Instagram, so pop over and have a look if you’re interested and PLEASE feel free to fire you’re suggestions at me… I’m all ears!
Organic: Not only is eating Organic produce better for your personal health, but it’s better for the health of the soil, environment it’s grown in and the health of the growers, too.
Seasonal and British grown where possible: Food that’s in season tastes better, that’s a fact. It’s one of the reasons my ferments change every season. The added bonus of creating seasonal ferments is that the majority of the produce I buy is grown in the U.K. If it’s not grown in the U.K., it comes from neighbouring countries in Europe and very rarely from further afield (ginger and turmeric), so the carbon/transportation miles are kept to a minimum.
Working with suppliers to reduce waste: My main supplier is absolutely brilliant and sends 99% of the produce in re-used or recyclable packaging. When I buy from other suppliers that I have less of a relationship with, I try to choose easily recycled or degradable packaging… for example, the sugar I use to make the Kefir comes in an extra strong large paper sack, rather than a plastic bag.
Ferment to Order: My business model means that I more or less ferment to order, therefore reducing/eliminating waste or surplus product (which isn’t ever actually wasted… just eaten by me, my friends and family or sold to customers on request).
Shipping: I use DPD who are a carbon-neutral courier. If you’re unsure what that means (I was!), you can read more about their policy here.
Looking After Staff Wellbeing: This one seems a bit odd, but if you consider just how much time we spend at work, you realise how important it is that the work environment is a happy and healthy one. Happy and healthy people go on to make better choices (I’m sure that’s a fact!) There are loads of ways this can be done, from ensuring staff have a limitless supply of fermented food and drink, to subsidising health and wellness classes, to eating lunch together as a team and holding group mindfulness minutes at the start of the work day… the list is endless when you think about it!
There are, of course, areas which still need work… but I enjoy that; thinking up ways to become more ‘low impact’ keeps my creative brain occupied. I take great inspiration from a restaurant called Siloin Brighton and Instagram provides a wonderful place to discover ways of reusing, repurposing and upcycling. I’ve been making a household cleaner using white vinegar and left-over lemon and lime peels (which I produce a lot of after a day of Kefir flavouring). I need to find out if it’s good enough to use commercially in the FBL kitchen. I’d also like to implement a solution to using fewer (or zero) disposable cloths, gloves and hairnets, safely and responsibly… get ready for the red cabbage tie-dyed bandana! Now that the packaging is in a much better place, these will be my next areas of development. Certainly things I’d like to nail down and establish for future growth.