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Luen’s blog: Being green

Forget Me Not is coloured purple through and through, but like everyone else, we need to be green too.

You may have seen a recent series of programmes called The Earthshot Prize, hosted by Prince William and Sir David Attenborough, focussing on the work we need to do to save our planet and decisions we need to make in the next 10 years in order to do so. You will also have seen news about COP26 and the targets our government have set to help us all reduce carbon emissions.

We are not an environmental charity; our purpose is quite different. But like many other charities, there are ways in which we can play our part to help our planet. Here are just a few things we are doing at Forget Me Not to get involved.

Our chain of charity shops help to manage waste and promote cleaner air. The charity retail sector as a whole diverts over 327,000 tonnes of textiles away from landfill each year, while reducing carbon emissions by about 7m tonnes. Our 13 shops encourage people to donate clothes and household goods they no longer want and then enables customers to buy them at a good price.

Of course, we only sell clothes of good quality, so not all goods can be resold. Instead, we may send them to be recycled or ragged. Our recycling partners are members of the Textile Recycling Association which has a very detailed code of conduct and a mission to promote the social and economic benefits of recycling in the UK and around the world. We try very hard to ensure as little as possible of our waste goes to landfill, partly because it costs us money to send it there, money we could otherwise be spending on supporting local families. We are involved in other recycling projects too, such as the school uniform exchange (where donated school uniforms can be given to others) and technology initiatives (like ‘gamers beat cancer’ where technology is given to families for gaming and education purposes). We don’t use new branded plastic bags, although if our customers ask, we may recycle a bag that came in with donated goods to help carry away purchases.

We sell cards at Christmas and have a selection for other times of the year. All of our cards are made in line with Forest Stewardship Council recommendations and carry the logo. In addition, we promote the recycling of cards via labelling on every pack. After Christmas, we operate a recycle your Christmas tree service which we run in partnership with the council, which also raises money for us. This is advertised widely, including on the back of all of our cards.

We have solar panels on our roof and are able to generate some of our own power from sustainable sources, and we have a wild garden which attracts wildlife. Our gardens are managed by volunteers who do a fantastic job for us, and they have asked if we can start composting, which we will.

We are careful to manage food waste, not only because this wastes money, but also because it’s not good for the environment. Our food suppliers provide food in portion controlled amounts. We can cater for every dietary requirement and all food allergens and are able to order specifically what we need when we need it by planning in advance to meet the needs of families staying with us, or when hosting events.

We’ve planted 100s of trees. Just recently, we have been working in partnership with Welcome to Yorkshire, who have donated hundreds of trees to us. These have now been planted in a beautiful protected spot near Skipton and are being given to people currently volunteering for us to say thank you for giving up so much time to support our work.

All of which means you don’t have to choose between supporting the environment and supporting Forget Me Not – you can do both. By donating your unwanted stuff to us you’re reducing waste; by buying your next outfit from one of our shops you’re saving the carbon that’s emitted from the production of new clothes; when you buy Christmas cards or use our Christmas tree collection service you’re supporting the sustainable production and disposal of trees.

Not only that, but you’re also helping us support local children and families – it’s a real win, win!