With Cape Wine 2022 happening in a few weeks, its theme, Sustainability 360, has put responsible practices top of mind again. Going through our own sustainability commitment document, I reconsidered the keywords reduce, reuse and recycle.
Remember when your mom opened gifts ever so carefully, so she can reuse the wrapping? When I grew up these sentiments were part of everyday life and perhaps more because of financial than environmental reasons. Somewhere we became a little less worried about the expense and even though we have a green conscience, sometimes when we forget the black Woolies bag at home, we buy another without too much of an internal struggle.
While each of us is responsible for our own sustainable conduct, companies and brands are under more scrutiny and are held liable for their choices – how they reduce their carbon footprint in sourcing, manufacturing and distribution, for instance. I have had to answer questions about using heavy bottles myself and I know the difficult reality of responsible choices vs market demand.
I saw an interesting tweet by a local wine producer claiming that using heavier glass with a cork closure has a smaller carbon footprint than lighter glass with screwcap. (Read here) This made me think that there might be alternative ways of going about green initiatives. Before we take our empty bottles to the recycling bin, have we considered reducing the amount of glass we use, perhaps reuse some of it?
While we all like to make sustainable choices, it is always easier to do so when you are financially motivated. With the hike in interest rates and commodity prices, I think reducing and reusing, might become as fashionable as they were when I grew up.
The Good Things Guy seems to agree. Like many of us, his responsible-choice-black-shopping-bags didn’t always accompany him on shopping trips for reuse as they were supposed to, and he kept accruing them until he decided to make a plan. His initiative – leave one, take one – encourages shoppers to leave extra bags in a “tree” outside the shop where those who forgot theirs at home, can take one for their shopping. (Read more) It is clever and I applaud the initiative. Will it work? Will you take a used bag when you’ve left yours at home? Perhaps issues like hygiene might deter you from actually taking one? It would be interesting to see. Perhaps nowadays, we have a few things to consider that we didn’t have in earlier years. Of course, recycling is a good alternative and two Cape Town shops are actually collecting those unused black Woolies bags to be recycled into shipping pallets. (Read more)
Reducing and reusing require less processing than recycling and might be the preferred first steps of sustainable living, but they have their limitations. Most of us can’t possibly reuse all the wine bottles we acquire, can we?! And it is also understandable if we are a bit hesitant to reuse wider than our own households. We can all reduce – there are no two ways about it! Financially, I think we’ll all be forced to live a little lighter – but that also only works to a point. Working together, the three concepts can, however, make a significant impact on both personal responsibility and company policy.
Doing things sustainably can be quite complicated, but it can also be really simple. Sometimes it just implies conservation. Conservation as per the dictionary definition: the prevention of wasteful use of a resource. There is something quite conservative about the idea. Because of politics and human rights, we often shy away from using the word conservative. In this context, however, I think it is applaudable and it applies to both the individual and the company. Waste not, want not.