Re-use deposit bottles. Friends of the Earth was founded when a major drinks company stopped using deposit bottles. In most countries, governments haven't let them get away with this, but the UK let it happen. Anyway, we like the idea. Recycling is greener than land fill, but still uses energy. Re-use is much greener, so at selected bike shops you can re-fill your Green Oil chain lube bottle for a 20p discount. The rest of the range you can re-fill for a 10p discount. Your can also post back your empty bottles here, and we'll refill them at a discount.
We love to take back old Green Oil packaging bottles and fizzy drinks caps at trade shows. Please bring them to the next one we're at, we can give you cash or a free gift!
Using reclaimed wood. Deforestation continues around the world, and its basically due to market demand - ignorant consumers continuing to buy wood furniture, and non recycled paper. (AKA deforestation paper if you really want to persuade someone to buy recycled!). At the same time, the UK imports more physical stuff than it exports. If you send pallets to land fill, they rot anaerobically, releasing methane. Worse than the smell, methane is a climate changing gas, even worse than CO2. Burning them also produces CO2, and there isn't enough demand to reuse them all...
So basically, our racks are made from reclaimed pallet wood! This diverts wood from landfill, doesn't cause deforestation, and means we're not using plastic to make the racks.
FSC certified wood - a world first Mentioned above is rampant deforestation. Its a big issue. Basically, if something wooden is not made from reclaimed wood, or FSC certified wood, you probably shouldn't by it (unless its second hand). Western wood consumption = illegal logging overseas. Its as simple as that.
FSC certification overcomes this. FSC stands for 'Forest Stewardship Council'. You can harvest trees sustainably. In a forest, cutting a strip of trees away, so more trees regrow in their place. This is the alternative to clearing areas completely, leading to soil erosion, so few or no trees growing back. Also in established plantations, chopping trees down and replanting them in cycles is sustainable generally.
In 2010 we launched the world's first FSC certified bike product, the Green Oil Bicycle Brush. This uses sustainably sourced wood, and the fibres are natural and durable. We were offered bristles that would wear out quickly - in order that we well more brushes. We don't buy into this short term consumerism. Its a brush that lasts. We might sell lots them then stop selling any because they don't wear out. But that's fine. We'd rather have a healthy planet to ride on.
The reason our racks are not 'FSC certified' is that a small company makes them for us, and getting certification for reclaimed wood is more tricky. The reason we don't use reclaimed wood for our brushes, is that it needs to be special wood that is water resistant, and harder than pallet wood, which is generally 'soft' wood.
No palm oil Many companies producing palm oil (used in biofuels, shampoo, soap and many other items) clear rainforest to grow it. Sometimes they even burn down forest, drain pete bogs to grow it. We don't use palm oil in any of our products.
Sustainably sourced ingredients Around half the ingredients we use are certified organic, and all are sustainably sourced. For this reason, the Ecologist made Green Oil 'Pick of the Month', and we're a commercial partner of Friends of the Earth.
Friends of the Earth Commercial Partner Green Oil UK is proud to be a commercial partner of Friends of the Earth, alongside Eurostar and a few selected companies. We morally support their work, and actively support events like their Big Green Bike Ride.
Ethical Banking Green Oil UK banks with the Co-operative Bank. They don't invest in companies that make polluting products, are involved in unsustainable logging and other unsustainable activities that many other banks are invovled with. Why not ask your bank if they have an ethical investment policy? Afterall, its money in normal people's accounts being used to fund a lot of the environmental crime out there.
Recycled paper We nearly only use recycled paper and card. We sometimes use hemp paper which is green but not recycled, and stationary reclaimed from waste (e.g. packs of envelopes thrown out by local shops). We use recycled cardboard boxes behind the scenes for wholesale orders. These are 50% to 100% recycled.
UK Manufacturing Our main market is the United Kingdom. So if you live here, the products have a lower carbon footprint before they reach you - unlike some imported brands.
Air freight is avoided where possible Shipping has a lower carbon footprint, so we try to literally 'ship' stuff where we can for orders outside of the United Kingdom.
Packing material Probably not many companies use old chunks of polystyrene anymore, but its worth a mention that we use a combination of biodegradable inflatable packing material, backing paper from labels and for special orders, we use void fill from Leavs Ltd - dried plant material, leaves, maize and petals to keep your delivery safe.
Recycling We recycle everything possible. Our old office had a roof garden with compost bin, and we're working on a new one for our new office. We have well labelled recycling bins to make things easy. In fact, most people don't realize they should have recycling bins in their house - get one for your office or kitchen now - its easier than walking to the garage every time you need to recycle a tin can. And don't put a black sack in it! Clean recycling bins don't need sacks.
Freecycling Old office equipment is given away where possible. This is sometimes through Freecycle.org. Check out Freegle too.
Honest recycling information For some reason, recycling information has got worse and worse in the UK. Simply, most councils only take PET and HDPE, plastics 1 and 2. For this reason, we state when our products can and can't be recycled like so, rather pretending you can recycle everything which can lead to contamination:
Many companies put 'please recycle me' on plastics which cannot be recycled (well by most councils anyway, like polypropylene, plastic 5). Many companies have the terrible 'Recycle Now' logos on saying 'check local recycling', or 'bottle please recycle' (no matter what type of plastic the bottle is).
The problem is, you can't look up 'Sainsbury's Tomato Puree cap' on your local council's website. Packaging too often says 'check local recycling' when its actually impossible to check. If councils and all graphic designers used the simple 6 number system for plastics, we wouldn't have this problem. Many packages say 'lid plastic- check local recycling. Tub plastic - please recycle'. Again, you can't actually check if a lid is recyclable or not. This leads to contamination, confusion, less recycling and higher prices for us for recycled plastic.
Here is a kind of packaging hall of shame. Lots of bike products have poor recycling info on too. These however are general household products. 1. Cream Cheese - Apparently plastic is both 'not currently recycled', and 'widely recycled'. A bit confusing to the lay person. As a chemist or avid recycler, you might know the lid is PET (plastic type 1), and the tub polypropylene (5) or compressed polystyrene (6). They could just put recycling codes on, but instead they confuse the public with seemingly contradictory nonsense.
2. - Sainsbury's chocolate cookies - a paper and plastic mix used for a bag. You can't put plastic into a paper recycling bin - it will contaminate it. However, 'Bag-paper widely recycled' is the misleading information of the day.
3, A Waitrose soup pot - 'check local recycling'. Have you ever seen a council website giving a definitive answer on whether or not soup pots from Waitrose can be recycled? No, neither have we. Its a polypropylene tub (plastic 5), which most councils can't recycle. They should just tell you this, and provide the plastic type.
Next is a 'recyclable' mobius loop on a Cranks paper/plastic mixed sandwich box - its a bad mix of plastic and paper, probably covered in sandwich filling too, so shouldn't be put in a recycling bin. Lots of products have this recycling loop on, despite being neither recycled, nor recyclable. Its the most popular greenwash aroun.
The blue and white package there asks you to find out from your council if the salt pot lid can be recycled. Obviously, no council on the planet will say specifically 'yes/no, a Waitrose salt lid can/can't be collected for recycling'. Most likely, the plastic lid will get thrown in with the cardboard tube into a card/paper bin - contaminating the batch.
Lastly, a Tetrapack saying its widely recycled - lots of councils still don't take Tetrapacks, and putting them into your paper bin leads to contamination. Tetrapacks are great, but need clear recycling information on. Many people think they are just paper, rather than the foil, paper and plastic mix they are - which messes up paper recycling if mixed in. Misleading recycling information leads to contamination and less stuff being recycled so we only provide good honest recycling information - unlike on the packaging below.
Waste companies should be paying councils to collect your rubbish, rather than the other way around. Waste is a huge resource. However, recycling collections in the UK are poor due to the kind of labeling above, and poor education from councils. In Germany, recycled plastic is cheaper than virgin plastic, unlike in the UK.
The UK authorities seem to be encouraging contamination of recycling bins by allowing this kind of poor labeling, and vague recycling information from councils, perhaps to make it look like we recycle more than we do - many people being uncertain, and chuck more than they should in the recycling bin anyway. Great for government statistics, less good for the environment. Contaminated waste is sent to land fill or incinerated only after its weighed.
But anyway, that's enough politics...
If you work for a council, or another company feel free to copy our labeling concept above. Fundamentally for the idiots out there, 'we only take bottles, plastic trays, and metal cans' is fine, but further information on what plastic types can be recycled should be provided by councils, and recycling numbers put on all packaging for the sensible majority. After all, there are 6 main plastic types, and most people can count to 6! (Occasionally the number 7 is used to indicate a mix of plastics). Paper and metal have numbers, but its obvious that a metal can is metal, and that paper is paper so they're not often required.
Click here for a link to Wikipedia's recycling code list.
Our Eco Rider Deluxe set is made of Polypropylene. This can't easily be recycled in the UK. Faced with this moral dilemma, Simon came up with the idea of providing a pack of seeds. So if you don't want to use the tub for washing your bike, you can grow your own salad or herbs in it. Getting people to grow their own food is great - local food on your shelf with zero food miles!
Label plastic. We use the same type of plastic for our bottles as for our labels. This makes recycling more efficient. We don't mix in metal foil on our plastic bottles, which can contaminate the recycling stream.
Green Living tips. We put Green Living tips on our products. This is because many people still think leaving lights on is greener than turning them off and on again (it isn't), and people sit parked in their cars with the engine running (they should turn the engine off if stationary for more than 30 seconds to save petrol). Many people even get 'recyclable' and 'recycled' confused, so we put green living tips on every bottle to help people out.
Concentrate! Green Clean like most cleaners is around 90% water. The powerful part, we sell as a concentrate, our powerful degreaser Clean Chain. Riders can then re-fill their Green Clean bottle again and again. This means less water being transported about, and therefore a lower carbon footprint. You can buy Green Clean once, and keep refilling with Clean Chain.