Essential Trading: Our Going for Gold partner

Lila Teasdale, part of Essential Trading Cooperative’s marketing team, explains why Essential Trading decided to become a Going for Gold partner, and the efforts they are taking to reduce their impact on the environment.

My name’s Lila. I’ve been a member of Essential Trading Cooperative for nearly three years. I work in Essential’s marketing team, researching and writing about all our yummy products and the latest in health food trends. Since being here I’ve had the opportunity to help out with most things from mixing muesli to delivery driving, as well as taking part in our co-operative decision making.

Based in Bristol, you may know the Essential brand from the shelves of your local health food store, or perhaps you have been to our co-operatively run shop, Harvest on Gloucester Road. Essential have been pioneering an alternative business model for nearly 50 years. Our core purpose is to provide ethically sourced, cruelty-free products, and to pioneer a sustainable business model.

We are super excited to partner with Going for Gold in the bid to have Bristol recognised as a Gold Sustainable Food City, through a collaborative effort between businesses, the council, and individuals. The campaign will serve as a catalyst to bringing about new, sustainable changes across the city, as well as recognise and celebrate what is already being done.

Food sustainability is a core aspect of Essential’s values and vision.  Our partnership with Going For Gold is not only intended to support and promote the campaign, but also to participate and contribute our own actions to the bid. We’re proud to be part of the steering group alongside a variety of key representatives, thereby adding our voice as an independent business within the food sector.

Essential’s main business as a wholesaler grants us an in-depth view of the market and its changing trends. The last couple of years have reflected an increased sense of urgency amongst the general public to reduce the amount of single-use plastic. We’ve seen nearly 100 new ‘plastic-free’ or ‘zero-waste’ shops opening across the country that we are able to supply with our bulk goods. Harvest on Gloucester Road has offered a refill section since the 1980s, and Zero Green in Bedminster caused quite a buzz when it opened in 2018.

Essential wholesale is taking steps in response to the issue of single-use plastic, removing plastic water bottles from our stock in 2018. We’re pleased to report that our retail and café customers who used to buy the bottled water have been very welcoming of the action, quickly getting on board with alternative glass bottles and making bottle refilling available and encouraged. We have been researching and trialling alternative packing materials for a number of years, introducing paper bags with paper tape where suitable. The increasingly loud public call for sustainable packaging does seem to be having an impact on packaging manufacturers, as a number of new options are becoming available for food-grade, plastic alternatives, hopefully making it easier for companies like ours to pack more products in plastic-free retail packs.

Essential Co-operative is very much made by the people who work here. Bristol is our home and has allowed our alternative business model to thrive through its pioneering approaches to food, community and environmental responsibility. We are excited for the Going for Gold campaign to expedite efforts throughout the city, and proud to collaborate on the bid over the next couple of years.

How could you, reading this post now, get involved in Bristol’s Going for Gold bid? As an individual or as a business, you have the power to drive change. Consider the alternatives and make radical choices. Buy from your local independent stores and businesses to support your local economy; research your brands to ensure ethical supply chains (Ethical Consumer is good for this), and cook from scratch! There’s plenty of organic and vegetarian options available, and it’s possible to do it in an affordable way with a little bit of planning. Log your actions and share your news to inspire others! Feel free to tag Essential Trading if you’re celebrating any food sustainable actions on social media. We’ll be right here to cheer you on, and to offer tips along the way.

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