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23 January 2019

Glass Door is trialing eco-friendly products with the aim of removing all single-use plastics from shelters by next year.

While many shelters use glass and china, there are times when washing up is not always practical. Breakfast is rushed. Take-away meals need disposable containers. Many kitchens are challenged with small dishwashers, and all are on tight schedules. Some reliance on disposable cutlery, cups, plates and takeaway boxes is difficult to avoid.

Glass Door estimates that roughly 1,900 disposable items are thrown away in one shelter circuit a week. All this eventually ends up in a landfill. 

Glass Door would like to do better. We care about people, and we also care about the planet.

Our volunteers agree. In a recent anonymous survey of volunteers, 93% of respondents stated they were concerned about the environment. Wrote one: 

I would like to see Glass Door rejecting all plastic cups, spoons, etc.

"Recycling should be addressed as a serious matter," wrote another. 

Green Trial

Trustees backed plans to see how the charity might replace plastic dinnerware with eco-friendly products, and a pilot was launched in November 2018 using "Vegware". Vegware items are biodegradable, meaning they won't take as much time as plastic to decompose in landfill. Products are either made from recycled content, so they don't use up finite resources, or are from renewable, sustainable resources. All these factors can reduce Glass Door's carbon footprint.

The new materials were used at the 2018 Sleep Out and have been in use since November in the seven church shelters that make up the Kensington and Chelsea circuit. 

Eco-friendly Vegware cups were used at the 2018 Sleep Out.

Greener future

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Shelter manager Bruce Marquart says the new materials are not only more environmentally friendly, they are fit for purpose. Says Bruce: 

The Vegware is durable and able to withstand higher temperatures.

Volunteer coordinator Asitha Ameresekere says the eco-friendly items are "much better than polystyrene. The cutlery in particular is excellent". Carolyn Griffith, volunteer coordinator for St Augustine's church, says she is "thrilled" that Glass Door are looking into greener options.

The trial will continue until the end of the shelter season in April, when we will analyse the cost and transportation considerations. If the pilot is deemed sustainable, Glass Door aims to eliminate all single-use plastics in all the shelters starting from November 2019.

In the meantime, Glass Door encourages volunteers and staff in all the shelters to try and reduce the amount of non-reusable catering items as much as possible.

If you would like to discuss opportunities for sponsoring our green initiative, please get in touch.

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