Family-run garden centre and farm shop, Garsons of Esher, is mounting its own war on plastics.
This summer, it has introduced fully bio-degradable cardboard punnets for its Pick Your Own fruit and vegetables and plans to phase out all plastic versions by the end of this year.
Between now and autumn, Garsons, one of the country’s biggest PYO venues, predicts the move to the more environmentally-friendly material will have replaced 25,000 plastic punnets.
“We have been pushing the container manufacturers very hard for a number of years to supply us with a fully-biodegradable form of PYO punnet and are delighted we can finally offer this to our PYO customers this season,” said Garsons director Ben Thompson.
The introduction of bio-degradeable punnets is the latest environmental initiative by Garsons to reduce or eliminate plastic from its business. Last October, it replaced plastic cups with glasses for drinking water in its restaurant and swapped plastic straws for paper ones. Earlier this year, it was one of the first stores in the country to offer a range of eco swimwear made from abandoned fishing nets rescued from the oceans.
Meanwhile, it has just donated £2,138.67 to the Marine Conservation Society from the sale of single use plastic carrier bags. The money was collected over a 12-month period by charging customers 5p for each plastic bag purchased at both Garsons of Esher and its sister site in Titchfield, Hampshire. Since October 2015, Garsons has raised a total of £6,722 for the charity.
“We are so grateful for the donations that Garsons have sent us which will help our volunteering projects to clear litter from beaches, protect our precious marine wildlife and advise on sustainable seafood through our Good Fish Guide,” said Katherine Stephenson, head of fundraising for the Marine Conservation Society. “It's really heartening to see companies like Garsons actively seeking alternatives to reduce their use of single-use plastics.”
In a further environmental step, Garsons is currently trialling a new carrier bag made from plant-based materials which is 100% compostable. Customers will be able to reuse their Garsons carrier bag in their kitchen compost bins when they get home. And it has recently rolled out a `Bag for Life’ made from a new ecological fabric called Juco - a durable blend of jute and cotton – to encourage customer re-use.
“As a family of growers, we understand how important it is to protect our environment and are committed to reducing and eventually removing, wherever possible, all plastic-based packaging from our business,” add Ben. “And while doing so, we are proud to continue to support the amazing work the Marine Conservation Society does to protect our sea life and coastlines by charging for single use plastic bags. We have seen a notable drop in the use of bags which means our wonderful customers are equally prepared to help us in our quest to protect the environment.”