The British Heart Foundation has been commended for its long-term commitment to protecting the environment and promoting sustainable activities.

The charity, which was formed in 1961, was handed the award by the Charity Retail Association earlier this week, with much of the associated praise directed towards current Sustainability Manager David Roman, who has driven the vast majority of the charity’s most successful projects.

A green approach

Since his appointment in 2012, David has gone above and beyond to drive sustainable practices across the charity’s many retail branches around the country. His first move was to implement a lower price bracket for all items that are capable of being easily recycled, such as DVDs and CDs, vastly reducing the number of these products ending up in landfill.

He also decided to focus on homeware recycling by encouraging more stores to advertise the fact that such services are on offer. Currently, around 90% of BHF retailers have the capacity to recycle homeware items, which is again playing a huge part in limiting the number of items that end up being sent unnecessarily to landfill.

BHF has also made moves to reduce the availability of single-use plastic bags across its stores and has instead placed more attention on bags that are recyclable, compostable or are sturdy enough to be used on numerous occasions.

A smarter approach to sales

As with most charity retailers, BHF doesn’t always get to determine the stock it receives. Because most of the items it sells are donated, it means that pieces that are difficult to sell are easy to accumulate. Small plastic toys are a perfect example of this.

David, upon realising that BHF stores were struggling to shift small plastic toys, decided to introduce the concept of ‘pocket money bags’. The idea was to place a number of small toys into a recyclable or reusable bag and sell each bag for a very low price (generally £1). This has enabled young children to spend their pocket money acquiring not one, but numerous, toys with a single purchase. This has subsequently limited the number of toys going to landfill, and also minimised stock build-up.

Outside of the stores

And the good efforts don’t stop within stores. The BHF head office has declared that by 2028 all of its vans in cities will emit zero carbon emissions, while work has already started to transition to more environmentally friendly vehicles.