The Happy Planet store showcases innovative sustainability

The trouble with being a sustainable business is finding the right materials. Sometimes there is a good reason for the material choice.  For example, it is waterproof or long lasting or malleable. Making a manufacturing business more sustainable can become a game of ‘find the right material’ and this requires a lot of testing to ensure that the replacement material does the job as well as the existing one does. 

The result is that sustainable businesses have to innovate to work out new ways of doing things and sourcing new materials that are more eco-friendly but as good, if not better than the original. Blue Patch’s member directory is full of these examples from pineapple fibre for shoes to grow your own mushrooms in recyclable cardboard boxes. Companies such as British Recycled Plastic source their waste plastic materials and manufacture the UK.

The Scotsman says we should ban Christmas crackers. An estimated 40 million crackers go into the waste bin at Christmas and most of these are single use plastics. Keep This Cracker has developed an eco-friendly cracker. It is reusable each year. Making a reusable cracker with no plastic was a challenge but they managed it. Made of FSC certified box board and is not round, but square!

Another well-known culprit in the plastic waste debate is single use bathroom products. Tooth Eco wanted to do their part in reducing the estimated 4.7 billion plastic toothbrushes that get discarded each year. And astonishingly, are all still in circulation. They have designed a toothbrush with 99.94% less plastic than a normal toothbrush. The rest of the materials are recyclable and biodegradable.

Are you ever annoyed by the plastic trays that they pack mushrooms (and other veg) in, in the supermarket?  GroCycle sells grow your own mushrooms in a recyclable cardboard box. Adam & Eric spent a decade developing an easy low tech way to grow mushrooms, so you don’t have to. 

According to Recycled Plastic Rating:

  • 80% Of consumers are concerned about the impact plastic packaging has on the environment, 
  • 60% Of people are confused about which type of plastic packaging is most harmful to the environment, and 
  • 79% Of consumers would like to choose packaging that does not harm the environment.

The supermarket is a source of any number of products that bring plastic and harmful chemicals into the home. Delphis Eco wanted to tackle the problem of packaging for dishwashing and laundry detergents. They have developed a range of products that are plant based, phosphate free and packaged in 100% recycled plastic.

Andrew had a typical problem for a Londoner. There was no room in his flat for his bike storage. His unique design for Cycloc means you can hang your bike on a wall, saving on floor space. Cycloc has been applauded by cyclists and the active travel movement, who want to encourage more people to drive less. 

The genius in Tread Softly is the fact that their design-led furniture doesn’t feel like it has been repurposed – and yet it has. Hannah juxtaposes carefully sourced vintage furniture with a modern design sensibility, using bold colours and geometric patterns to produce elegant, contemporary one off pieces. The best bit is you can feel guilt free about buying from their sustainable collection. 

All these products can be seen in the Happy Planet store at the Manchester Art Gallery until April 18. Select pieces can also be purchased online in the gallery shop.

Annette Clubley

Annette is a keen wildlife conservationist, mindful of sustainability and our impact on the environment. Outside of work, family is her focus and she loves teaching the next generation to enjoy the outdoors.