Seven ways businesses are championing CSR this Christmas

With less than a week until Christmas, chances are that many of us will be doing some last-minute gift shopping - and some retailers are using the occasion to make a positive social or environmental impact. Here, edie outlines how seven companies are championing CSR for Christmas 2018.

Christmas is widely regarded as the most wonderful time of the year – but it’s also one of the most wasteful. This year, Brits are set to generate 125,000 tonnes of waste plastic packaging, send 277,000 miles of wrapping paper to landfill and litter 160,000 tonnes of Christmas trees.

As for presents, it’s estimated that around 60 million unwanted gifts will be sent this festive season, with the average consumer spending between £10 and £20 on items which will end up in landfill or incineration.

Indeed, this must be a time of year which has many a sustainability professional clutching their head with despair, watching progress towards their brand’s resource efficiency pledges take a hit from customers keen to buy presents – regardless of whether the recipient will use them – and food – regardless of whether it will get eaten.

But while Christmas may mean “flashy festive window display” to some retailers, others have taken a different approach and are using the occasion to champion resource efficiency, social sustainability and environmental conservation. With this in mind, edie has rounded up seven ways the UK’s business community is giving back to society and the environment this Christmas.

Tesco hosts UK’s biggest Christmas food collection scheme


In the spirit of goodwill, supermarket giant Tesco has run what it claims is the largest Christmas food collection and redistribution scheme in the UK.

Working with foodbank operator Trussell Trust and redistribution platform Fareshare, the retailer installed food collection facilities at 2,600 of its stores between 29 November and 1 December, encouraging customers to donate long-lift foods such as UHT milk, canned goods and dried fruit.

The food and drink were then distributed to charities, community groups, homeless people and those living below the poverty line, with Tesco topping up the value of the food donated by the public by 20%.

Tesco has been running the scheme for 11 years and hopes that this year will mark the largest collection yet. Last year, the retailer and its customers sent the equivalent of 3.34 million meals to good causes via Fareshare and the Trussell Trust.

“At Tesco, we are glad to be playing our part in helping people in need this Christmas,” Tesco’s chief executive Jason Tarry said.

“We know that the items that our customers donate can make a real difference to people who really need that little bit of extra help this year – whether it is a food parcel for someone at a time of crisis or a hot meal which means that a vulnerable person does not feel lonely.”

Aldi UK to redistribute all unsold fresh food on Christmas Eve


On the subject of supermarkets and food redistribution, budget chain Aldi UK has confirmed that it will redistribute all unsold fresh food to good causes after it closes on Christmas Eve.

Earlier this month, the retailer confirmed that it would close all of its UK stores at 4pm on 24 December, allowing time for all surplus food stock to be collected and redistributed.

On 2 December, Aldi UK tweeted that it would seek to donate surplus produce, chilled goods and frozen goods to any community causes supporting “less fortunate individuals”. Such groups were encouraged to apply to Aldi UK to collect their share of around 20-30 crates of food from their local store.

The move builds on Aldi UK’s partnership with FareShare, which collects the retailer’s surplus food throughout the year. The retailer also works with the Salvation Army to redistribute food waste at a local level.

“We want to give something back to the communities that we serve at such an important time of year,” Aldi UK’s managing director of corporate responsibility Fritz Walleczek said.

“Last year, we were able to reach thousands of people across the UK with our Christmas Eve scheme, and some charities were even able to prepare fresh meals that fed families well into the New Year.”

Ella’s kitchen teams up with FareShare to fight food poverty

Organic baby and toddler food brand Ella’s Kitchen, meanwhile, is taking a slightly different approach to tackling food poverty.

The B-Corp has partnered with FareShare in order to donate 25p from the sale of each of its Jingle Belly Christmas Dinner meals to good causes, with funds raised being distributed directly to community causes or used by FareShare to purchase food.

Funding raised for community causes will be used to feed families in need over Christmas time, with any excess used to fund initiatives that tackle the root causes of food poverty. Such initiatives include providing counselling for parents, helping adults access benefits and providing activity and education clubs for children.

According to FareShare, 25p is enough to provide one hot meal to a person in food poverty this December.

Mark Cuddigan, Head of Ella’s Kitchen, said: “No family or little one should have to go without food – especially at Christmas.

“At Ella’s Kitchen, our mission is to improve children’s lives through developing healthy relationships with food so supporting FareShare this Christmas is a natural fit.”

Oxfam launches festive campaign against fast fashion


The UK public is estimated to have spent more than £3.5bn on new clothes for the festive party season, according to charity Oxfam, with eight million garments having been worn just once before they were thrown away.

In a bid to combat the nation’s fast fashion problem – and the way in which Christmas exacerbates the issue – the organisation has this year partnered with designer and activist Stella McCartney to encourage Brits to shop second-hand for partywear and presents.

Working with celebrities including Kate Moss and Ellie Goulding, the charity filled all of its 610 UK shop windows with partywear and re-arranged its online shop to feature luxury second-hand formal dresses, bags, suits and shoes.

Some of these goods were donated by McCartney, Moss and Goulding themselves, along with Saturdays star Una Healey and Killing Eve actress Jodie Comer. Oxfam used these big names to market the campaign and convince shoppers that second-hand can be stylish.

“Follow Oxfam’s lead and when you fall out of love with an outfit, let someone else fall in love with it,” Goulding said of the campaign.

“Source your new look second-hand too and you’re showing maximum respect for clothes, the planet and your style.”

The Body Shop to fund reforestation campaign through Christmas sales


The Body Shop is well-known as a brand that champions purpose beyond its products, having reforested 41 million sq.m of animal habitats through its bio-bridges campaign in 2017 and collecting more than eight million signatures for its anti-animal-testing petition since 2014.

This Christmas, however, the Croydon-based retailer is turning its attention to habitat restoration within the UK through its Enchanted Forest campaign.

Launched in November, the campaign will see The Body Shop donate 1.8p of profit from every transaction made until 1 January 2019 for investment into reforestation programmes across the Forest of Dean and the Wye Valley. These programmes will be facilitated by The Woodland Trust and The World Land Trust.

The Body Shop has committed to provide £250,000 to these reforestation schemes – so if customer purchases do not generate enough funds, the retailer will supplement the total. If an excess of £250,000 is raised, it will be shared equally between The Body Shop’s charity partners.

“Over the past four Christmases or so, we’ve always done something with our customers to make a difference to either planet or people – and we’ve always run initiatives where all of our products make a difference,” The Body Shop’s international CSR director Christopher Davies said.

Davies recently discussed the Enchanted Forest campaign during edie’s Sustainable Business Covered podcast. You can listen to that episode in full here.

Morrisons encourages customers to serve ‘wonky’ Christmas dinner


Currently, around 1.6 billion tonnes of food goes to waste each year, representing about one-third of the food produced globally by weight.

Christmas is no small contributor to this problem, with Brits set to bin 17 million sprouts, two million turkeys, two million kilos of cheese and five million Christmas puddings before New Year’s Day.

In a bid to help shoppers reframe food waste as a food resource, Morrisons has launched a £1 Too Good to Waste box, containing 1kg of assorted seasonal fruit and vegetables at the end of their shelf life but still good to eat.

Each item is “condition checked” and stores are stocking at least 75 varieties of fruit, 80 types of vegetables, and 50 types of salad – any of which may appear in the box.

The move comes after the supermarket began to stock 40 lines of “wonky” fruit and vegetables at discount prices earlier this year, in a bid to minimise its food waste output. These ranges include Brussel sprouts, potatoes and carrots, as well as pomegranates and pears.

“We’ve listened to our customers who said they don’t want to see good food going to waste – so we’ve created these boxes and every day we’ll fill them with a wide selection of produce at risk of being thrown away,” Morrisons’ fruit and vegetable director Drew Kirk said.

“Because produce may be unusual and varied, customers can also try some new and exciting dishes at home without having to spend a fortune.”

Send A Cow helps shoppers to ditch unwanted gifts


According to a recent YouGov survey, more than half (57%) of Brits who celebrate Christmas received an unwanted gift last year, with the average shopper spending £10-£20 on items which would end up in landfill or incineration.

In order to help shoppers become more resource efficient, international development charity Send A Cow is calling on consumers to give charitable donations – not physical gifts – to friends and relatives they deem “difficult” to buy for.

The organisation has highlighted that the £20 usually spent on unwanted gifts could be used to provide two chickens to malnourished families in developing countries, two gardening kits to help off-grid families grow their own produce or fruit trees to help those in need establish their own orchards.

Send A Cow is selling these gifts on its website, with shoppers given a voucher telling the recipient about their gift – and the positive impact it will have on rural communities – rather than a physical item.

The launch of the charity’s #DontWasteXmas gift range comes after the YouGov survey, which quizzed 2,185 UK adults, found that 37% would be happy to have a charitable donation made in their name in place of a Christmas present.

“Buying a virtual gift for a loved one has a double impact and goes far beyond your typical gift of socks or smellies which often end up in the bin,” Send A Cow’s chief executive Paul Stuart said.

“The person receiving the gift feels good knowing that a donation has been made with them in mind and a struggling family in Africa receives vital support to help them transform their lives. It’s a gift which feels good and does good.”

Sarah George

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie