Sustainable Shakespeare 2023
Our Globe Shop has the environment at its centre. Head of Retail, Meghan Cole dives into how the Globe Shop puts sustainability at its core.
Customers are becoming much more discerning when it comes to choosing the sustainable option when it comes to high street or supermarket shopping, so why should cultural retail be an exception?
The Globe Shop offers quality products, unique designs and commercial success which helps to support the work of Shakespeare’s Globe. Over 90% of our product is exclusive, and over 80% of that designed and developed in-house. What may not be quite so obvious is how eco-conscious many of our products are.
Shakespeare may have lived and worked over 400 years ago, but his work is still very relevant. The Globe Shop doesn’t do ‘Ye Olde Worlde’ but uses bold, graphic design that makes Shakespeare accessible and immediate. Part of keeping Shakespeare relevant in the modern world, is an obligation to make our products as sustainable as possible.
When developing a new product our Head of Retail, Meghan Cole, uses a policy of sustainable sourcing – examining the impact of manufacturing processes, employment practices and transportation miles. The result is the elimination of environmentally dubious products and the prioritising of suppliers who promote positive practices.
Sales of t-shirts, sweatshirts and bags account for around 30% of total revenue from the Globe Shop, so this was one of the first areas to be examined. We use a printer based in the Welsh borders who offer ethically sourced cotton products and uses Soil Association & Global Organic Textile Standard water-based inks. This means that we can be sure that the inks used in printing Globe products are not polluting waterways (solvent-based printing inks are one of the worst potential pollutants.) All our clothing, bags and tea towels are offered ‘naked’, without any plastic packaging.
Printing to order
Half of the t-shirts, bags, and tea towels we offer are print to order products. Printing to order is an especially sustainable process because product is created only when an order is placed; there is no risk of product ending up in landfill if sales are slow. The t-shirts we use for print to order are 100% organic cotton grown without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. This means the water used to grow the cotton is not polluted and can be safely returned to water sources to be used again. The overall positive effect on water, soil, and biodiversity of growing organically also means that the well-being and livelihood of cotton farmers and their communities is respected and protected.
‘The t-shirts we use for print to order are 100% organic cotton grown without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides’
All our wooden swords, daggers and shields are handmade in a workshop in the Bavarian forest where the wood is grown and harvested. The family-owned company who makes them have been managing the surrounding forest for three generations and plant two saplings for every tree harvested. The toys are handmade in a carbon-zero workshop using traditional methods from local beech wood and finished using harmless dyes and 100% wool felt.
We stock a range of socks designed in partnership with The London Sock Exchange, each themed to a different play. The socks are made from organic cotton yarn which is grown without the use of pesticides and fertilisers on farms which are 80% rain-fed, reducing the amount of ‘blue’ water from rivers and lakes. The socks are made in a family-run factory in Portugal which is committed to running the factory in a socially and environmentally sustainable manner. They are working to reduce their carbon emissions by obtaining a significant proportion of their energy from renewable sources and currently follow energy-saving processes, such as heating the factory with heat from the machinery. Packaging for the socks is made from FSC certified materials or recycled card. When it comes to end of our sock’s lives, socks can be sent to the Sock Amnesty for recycling or to The Reclaimery which upcycles socks into mittens and neckwarmers for London’s homeless.
Recycled Perspex jewellery
We take Perspex acrylic jewellery from two UK suppliers: Belladonna and Folk & Fortune. Perspex is a form of plastic, but plastic is not inherently bad. It’s single-use plastic that is the problem and both our jewellery suppliers deal with the problem of waste very well.
Our Belladona jewellery is made in a Passivehaus workshop in Kent which means the production process is close to carbon-zero. Belladonna uses at least 15% recycled Perspex and will repair any broken pieces for free. All waste is recycled and pieces that are no longer wanted or beyond repair are also recycled into new Perspex sheets. There is no plastic in the packaging.
Our Folk & Fortune jewellery is made from 100% ‘greencast’ recycled Perspex and Forestry Commission certified wood. Any offcuts of Perspex are crafted into ‘zero-waste’ jewellery where small pieces are made into mosaic designs. Any remaining Perspex waste is recycled.
Both suppliers attest that 0% of the waste from manufacture goes to landfill.
‘All waste is recycled and pieces that are no longer wanted or beyond repair are also recycled into new…’
Bioplastic products and packaging
Our quote pens are made of bioplastic which is derived from renewable and non-finite raw materials, in this case sugarcane. Before you ask, no they don’t taste sweet! The sugarcane is grown on previously waste land in non-intensive ways. Production processes used in the manufacture of the pens are designed to be free of harmful substances, carbon zero, waste avoiding and recyclable. Close to 100% of production waste is either reused or recycled.
The packaging on our greetings cards and prints is made from corn starch bioplastic.
Creating any product has inherent costs, both financially and environmental. The Globe Shop is by no means perfect when it comes to sustainability, but we are trying to make a difference, product by product.
‘For, being green, there is great hope…’
Henry VI, part 2 (Act 3, scene 1)