Conscious of over consumption during events like Black Friday? Read on for how to shop smart and use in-house initiatives like our recycling schemes to your advantage
Many of us are seeking new ways to reduce our carbon footprint and cultivate a more sustainable way of life. John Lewis is proud to stock products made from more sustainable materials, like BCI cotton (which stands for Better Cotton Initiative, a non-profit programme that promotes better standards in cotton farming). We also have many in-house initiatives, such as sofa recycling, an electrical goods take-back scheme, the Little Loop clothes rental service for children and our soon-to-launch partnership with clothing rental service, Hurr.
‘At John Lewis and Waitrose, we’re continually striving to provide our customers with fantastic products and services to enable more sustainable and healthy lifestyles,’ says Marija Rompani, Ethics & Sustainability Director for the John Lewis Partnership. If you're conscious of over consumption during events like Black Friday, we're offering small initiatives that can make a big difference. Take FashionCycle, a sustainability initiative exclusively for My John Lewis customers across the UK. The idea is that when you return five items of clothing to be resold or recycled, we give you £5 off your next fashion or home purchase.
Below our experts explore seven simple lifestyle tweaks that will benefit the environment and enrich your life. Together, we can do better.
The first step is becoming a more conscious shopper – think eco-mattresses, FSC®-certified furniture (which means that the wood used in said furniture has met the strigent sustainable sourcing requirements of the Forest Stewardship Council) and conscious beauty products packaged in recycled and recyclable packaging. If you are buying for children, start with our sustainable kids’ edit for the latest sustainable clothing, bedding and toys for your little ones. You can also shop with the Little Loop, which is a clothes rental and swapping initiative for children.
Spend time considering every purchase you make. Opt for classic, well-made and sustainable wardrobe staples that you’ll cherish forever – look to brands such as Aesop, Baukjen, Rituals, Mother of Pearl and Ninety Percent for inspiration. Our John Lewis & Partners Supima cotton tees are a perfect example of an item combining sustainability and style. This cotton is twice as strong as regular cotton and gives enhanced durability and wear resistance. Look also for products made from responsibly sourced materials that are made to last such as our sustainably sourced cashmere collection.
Learning to make the most of what you have is key. Take a long, hard look at everything in your wardrobe. Try everything on and see what can be kept, altered, mended, sold, recycled or given away. You’ll probably find you have more than you realised. What do you need to make those forgotten gems viable? Make a list so you can buy exactly what you need.
Simple repairs and alterations can be carried out at home, by hand or with the help of a sewing machine (see our sewing machine buying guide) – YouTube is a great place to find step-by-step tutorials. If you’re less confident, or short on time, many local tailors and alterations shops offer a repairs service – perfect if you need a zip replaced or a hem taken up in a hurry.
We all need to declutter from time to time, but as a nation we send more than 300,000 tonnes of wearable clothes to landfill each year. Swishing (another name for clothes swapping) is a fun way to liberate old favourites – and discover new ones. Swap with friends or try an online clothes exchange. Or why not give your old sofa a new life through our Sofa Re-use scheme. We’ll not only pick up your old sofa but we’ll work with The Reuse Charity to donate it to another family in the UK who needs it.
Renting is another great alternative to buying new each time. Our furniture rental scheme looks to combat the estimated 80,000 tonnes of furniture that ends up in landfill each year. The scheme, in partnership with Fat Llama, gives you the chance to rent the very best of our furniture collection, and then swap, extend or buy the furniture (if you later decide to keep it).
Waste has a very serious impact on our environment so recycling and disposing of items responsibly is crucial to the health of our planet. Our mattress and divan recycling service is a stress-free solution to avoid sending larger household items like mattresses to landfill. We’ll not only collect your old mattress from your home, but we’ll take it to be recycled so that the materials can be reused.
Finally, recycling old containers and packaging correctly can help reduce the impact of replacing your favourite everyday products. Our BeautyCycle scheme, for example, rewards you with £5 off beauty products when you recycle five empty beauty containers in store. We’re proud that more than 85,000 My John Lewis members have donated to the scheme since it began, diverting over 425,000 items of hard-to-recycle packaging from landfill.
But before you recycle, ask yourself: could you upcycle instead? ‘The world is your oyster when it comes to upcycling,’ says interior stylist Emma Morton-Turner, founder of Inside Stylists. ‘It’s not just that you’re not adding to the landfill problem – you’re creating a new item for your home that will fit perfectly with your decor.’
If you’re new to upcycling, take a look at TV shows like The Repair Shop and books such as Sara Bird’s Home for the Soul for inspiration, and search YouTube for tutorials on technique. ‘Spray paint a few different candlesticks the same colour and team them with contrasting coloured candles,’ Emma suggests. ‘Or you could cover mismatched magazine files with wallpaper, or paint wooden coat hangers and decorate them with pressed flowers. Just have fun!’
Got an old desk or chest of drawers crying out for a makeover? ‘Paint your piece all over using chalk paint,’ says Emma. ‘Leave to dry, then paint a second colour over the top. Use a kitchen scourer to gently rub over the edges and corners. This will remove the top layer of paint for a vintage effect.’
Looking for more ideas? Don’t miss our crafting tutorials which include how to make a knotted plant hanger – the perfect way to use up old wool.
More than two million pieces of litter are dropped in the UK every day, killing millions of animals each year, dampening community spirit and creating hazards for physical and mental health.
Could plogging be the answer? Blending ‘jogging’ with ‘plocka upp’ – Swedish for ‘pick up’ – plogging is the Stockholm-born trend for combining running with litter picking. It’s a winning combination for your health and the environment. Grab a bin bag, some protective gloves and your trainers and you’re good to go – why not start small and commit to picking up (and recycling) just two pieces of rubbish next time you go out for a run or walk?
The numbers of once familiar birds and butterflies have more than halved in recent decades, but with a few simple tweaks, you can turn your own garden or outdoor space into a haven for nature. ‘Gardens can provide a crucial lifeline for struggling species,’ says Anna Feeney, PR Executive at the RSPB. ‘To that hungry butterfly or weather-beaten bird looking for a place to roost, just one garden can make all the difference.’
A bird bath will keep feathers in tip-top condition for flying and provide valuable drinking water, while a mud patch can help local house martins build cosy nests. ‘An upturned bin lid stabilised with a rock can make a great bird bath – you can even upcycle an old bucket or sink to make a pond,’ suggests Anna.
You could also hang a nest box or bird feeder, build a bug hotel, put out scraps (remembering to check they’re safe for birds first), or hang apples or suet balls from your trees. Check the RSPB website for more ideas on creating a wildlife-friendly garden.
Growing your own food is a great way to reduce the carbon footprint associated with importing fresh produce. Opting for more seasonal, plant-based meals over meat is one of the best things that you can do for the environment as it can help conserve land, tackle water scarcity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Growing plants can help hungry local wildlife, too. ‘It’s immensely satisfying to see birds eating off plants you’ve grown,’ says Anna. ‘And a lot of bird-friendly plants are also good for pollinators. Sunflowers provide a tasty meal for bees, and later in the summer, the drying seedheads become a feast for greenfinches and goldfinches.’
If you don’t have room for a vegetable patch, why not grow fresh herbs or pollinator-friendly flowers in a windowbox? ‘You can grow plants pretty much anywhere, regardless of the size of your outdoor space,’ says Anna. You’ll find lots of wildlife-friendly plants at Waitrose Garden. If you’re local to Hampshire, why not visit the Longstock Nursery on Leckford Estate, the Waitrose & Partners farm, for horticultural advice from our experts?
Making your own bread is not only a chance to get creative but it’s a way to help reduce the environmental cost of your food. By sourcing your flour from a local mill or farm shop, you can minimise the impact of your loaf. The Longstock Park Farm Shop stocks a variety of delicious fresh farm-grown, local and regional produce including flour, rapeseed oil, sparkling wine, apple juice, cider and mushrooms.
Read more about Ethics and Sustainability at the John Lewis Partnership here