Friday, 23 September 2022

Why do public markets matter?

Public markets are as old as civilization. They were once a primary channel where people gathered to find the ingredients for their meals. Around the world, for centuries, the buying and selling and exchange of food and other essential products has been transacted in public marketplaces open to all. As urbanisation and industrialisation swept through, in the mid 90th century, public markets started to decline. By 1950s, supermarkets had eclipsed the old public markets in both convenience and sales volume.

Yet, public markets never wholly disappeared and they are making a comeback. In some countries, markets remained an immersive tradition and a cultural experience.  

This September, we saw the return of the original Eco Market, the summer edition at the beautiful Square in Mellieha, and it was great to see the community coming alive again, after three years! 



Eco Market in Mellieha, 2019


Eco Market in Mellieha, 2022



The Eco Market took place during EU Sustainability Mobility Week and on this occasion, we organised several mobility-related activities. For the young ones, we had free balance bikes trials, and there was also a fun obstacle course for kids on bicycle, scooter and skates. There were crafts where children had the opportunity to build their own 'futuristic' vehicle from upcycled materials. Kids also had fun learning new moves at the yoga session, and reflect during a mindfulness session.




For the adults there was an AI workshop, to better understand the role of artificial intelligence in the mobility sector and several info stalls about green jobs and cycling. 

The Eco Market's purpose goes beyong the buying and the selling. Our focus is on inspiring sustainability as a way of life and on public good. Our events create a safe active space for people with like-minded interests to learn, share and give birth to new ideas. We bring diverse people together, from retired tourists enjoying the experience and supporting local small business owners - to young children who ask their parents to take them to the Eco Market! 






As an ethical and sustainable business, we promote public health and well-being, through plant-based food, but also vegan wines, beers and ice-cream. Also all the beauty products are chemical-free and made from natural ingredients, mostly organic. Everything is packed in a sustainable way and there is a 100% ban on all types of single-use plastics. 



Buying with purpose

Supporting small local business owners at markets has several ripple effects. From the point of view of the vendors, it is a unique opportunity. For instance, those who have just started their business have the chance to explain face to face the work behind their product to their prospective customers, while getting confident in their new role and beating the fear and anxiety that inevitably comes with a new business. For seasoned business owners, markets are an additional stream of income, especially those who do not have a brick-and-mortar store.

Buyers, on the other hand, know that purchasing something from a local brand means that the product is made with love and care, as opposed to underpaid labor, and they get to appreciate the creativity rather than seeing mass-consumed objects. They get to meet the artist or creator behind the product and establish a mutually beneficial relationship.




Eco Market vendors and their products are approved according to our sustainability criteria which looks into how the product is made, what raw materials are used, where they came from, the life-shelf of the product, and several other aspects. It is important to mention that we do not look for perfection - for we do not believe such thing exists. We believe in effort, in progress, and in a passionate heart. Therefore brands who do not use any single-use plastic, and tick at least one of our criteria, are welcome to the Eco Market. 



UPCOMING EVENTS






We're looking forward to hold Eco Market's 'Marine Life Fair' next weekend at the Square in front of the Malta National Aquarium. This is a first-of-its-kind event in Malta - a family-friendly weekend jam packed with interesting and marine-themed activities and market stalls. Have a look above for a sneak peak of activities, which will be conducted by professional marine biologists from the Aquarium staff, social enterprises and NGOs. 

Saturday 1 October from 1200 to 1700
Sunday 2 October from 1000 to 1700

Free entrance to the Fair and all the activities.
Free entrance to the Aquarium for 3 kids with every paying adult.



On Sunday 9th October, we will once again be part of 'Genna ta' Gonna' (literally, Heaven of Gardens), the open day of the city of Floriana, with all its wondrous gardens which will be open to the public, along with many other attractions of the locality.

You can find the stalls of the Eco Market on the sidewalk near the main bus terminus between Floriana and Valletta from 1000 to 1700. We are planning an exciting and varied list of stalls which will include pre-loved thrifting and vintage clothing, vegan bakery and desserts, handmade luxury candles, jewellery, kids clothes, handsewn cushions, contemporary home decor, and a unique artisanal ice-cream. 

If you are looking for a unique and purposeful shopping experience, you know where we are! Looking forward to seeing you there 💚🌍🌱


Eco Market at Genna ta' Gonna 2019






Friday, 5 August 2022

Climate-neutrality by 2030 for Gozo

On 28th April 2022, the EU Commission announced the 100 cities selected for a mission in becoming a carbon-neutral and smart city by 2030. 



"The green transition is making its way all over Europe right now. But there's always a need for trailblazers, who set themselves even higher goals. These cities are showing us the way to a healthier future." said Ursula von der Leyen, President of the Commission. 

The selected cities will receive €360 million in funding from the EU Horizon project, to start the innovation paths towards achieving climate-neutrality by 2030. The research and innovation actions will address clean mobility, energy efficiency and green urban planning.

At the Paris Agreement in 2015, over 98% of the world's nation leaders pledged to become climate-neutral by 2050. These recently selected 100 EU cities embarked on a quest to get to that achievement by 2030; becoming climate pioneers and an example for others to follow. 


What exactly is climate neutrality?

Climate neutrality refers to the idea of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by balancing those emissions so they are equal (or less than) the emissions that get removed through the planet's natural absorption; in basic terms it means we reduce our emissions through climate action. A net-zero world is a world where global emissions are in balance with what is naturally absorbed in 'sinks' such as forests and oceans. 


Is it just about carbon dioxide?

No, it's about all gases that are harmful to the climate, such as methane and nitrodius oxide, as well as hydroluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride. This is not an exhaustive list, but for now, think of greenhouse gases as a catch-all term for the harmful substances we are pumping into the atmosphere. 



Where does carbon offsetting fit into this?

Climate neutrality means that you bring your emissions down to zero. This applies to both individuals and organisations. Many organisations are not able to reduce their emissions to zero immediately - as it will take a number of years for them to make the technological investments and change the baits that climate neutrality requires. That is why the path to net zero starts yesterday. Organisations can - in addition to the reductions that they can start making now - also invest in emission reductions outside their organisation, known as 'offsets'.

This option helps accelerate the global effort to reduce emissions and puts a 'carbon price' on their own organisation, providing an economic incentive to reduce their own emissions quicker. Purchasing compensation units is also an option available to individuals and households, as - similarly to organisations - they will have difficulties becoming climate neutral immediately. Offsets are not a long-term solution, and they don't replace the need for you or your organisation to go to zero as fast as possible, but they do provide a way to accelerate that journey. 


The way forward for Gozo 

Sectors that will need addressing are Energy & Buildings, Food System, Green Infrastructure, Transportation, Water and Waste. But a climate-friendly city is also a people-friendly city. Issues such as the wellbeing, health, environment, equity, livability and the synergies in between, must be taken into consideration. The pathways for change lie heavily on technology and innovation, science, business and finance, policy and governance, behavioural change and integrative scenarios. 

Your journey to net-zero

You start by measuring or estimating your emissions. Check out this online calculator to measure the emissions from your household.


List of the 100 climate-neutral and smart cities:

Aarhus, Copenhagen and Sonderborg in Denmark

Amsterdam, Eindhoven, Helmond, Groningen, Rotterdam, The Hague, Ultrecht in the Netherlands

Espoo, Helsinki, Lahti, Lappeenranta, Tampere, Turku in Finland

Gavle, Gothenburg, Helsingborg, Lund, Malmo, Stockholm, Umea in Sweden

Antwerp, Brussels Capital Region, La Louviere, Leuven in Belgium

Cork and Dublin in Ireland

Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, Valencia, Valladolid, Vittoria-Gastelz, Zaragosa in Spain

Gulmaraes, Lisbon, Porto in Portugal

Angers Loire, Bordeaux, Dijon, Dunkerque, Grenoble-Alpes, Metropole, Lyon, Marseille, Nantes, Paris in France

Llepaja and Riga in Latvia

Taurage and Wilnius in Lithuania

Krakow, Lodz, Rzeszow, Warsaw, Wroclaw in Poland

Liberec in the Czech Republic

Bergamo, Bologna, Florence, Milan, Padova, Parma, Prato, Rome, Turin in Italy

Bratislava and Kosice in Slovakia

Budapest, Miskolc, Pecs in Hungary

Gabrovo and Sofia in Bulgaria

Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Suceava in Romania

Athens, Ionnina, Kalamata, Kozani, Thessalonki, Trikala in Greece

Limassol in Cyprus

Zagreb in Croatia

Kranj, Ljubljana, Velenje in Slovenia

Klagenfurt in Austria

Aachen, Dortmund, Dresden, Frankfurt, Heldelberg, Lelpzig, Mannhelm, Munich, Muster in Germany

Gozo in Malta


Thursday, 14 July 2022

8 tips for market vendors to embrace sustainability

Market season have started and we shall be enjoying at least 3 more months of good weather this summer to hold open-air markets. The question we are often asked is: 'How do I become an eco-vendor?'.

In this blog post, we are sharing 8 tips for artisans and small business owners to help them embrace sustainability and by taking on at least some of these tips, they will automatically become eligible to participate at our Eco Markets. 







We do not seek vendors who are perfectly sustainable. We believe in effort, good will, dedication and commitment - and work with vendors who are willing to do that something extra, that something different, in order to safeguard the planet. Whichever of these tips you decide to adopt for your business, it is important to maintain your core values and ethics throughout your entire business. For instance, it would be dysfunctional to minimize the packaging, while at the same time offering a product stained with human or natural exploitation. Sustainable business owners don't look for profit only; they look for a profit with purpose.






The road to sustainability is a different journey defined by each business. It depends on how the business owner sees sustainability, what s/he wants to achieve, and what will guide him/her towards those goals. The issues that you pick should have a significant economic, social, and environmental impact. For example, conservation of water may be material to a company like Coca-Cola, but not for Google, which may focus more on clean and efficient energy solutions. 

Let's have a look at the proposed tips


1. Sourcing Materials


When you source locally you cut down on fuel emissions and pollution generated by transportation, usually across continents. A locally-sourced product has a much smaller carbon footprint. Small businesses depend on their local communities to survive and your support will also make it easier for you to build a lasting, trustworthy partnership with your suppliers when you can meet them face-toface. Sourcing locally will also boost your brand and sales because research shows that people are willing to pay a bit more for a product that provides value to the local community and the planet. Moreover, a locally sourced and produced product fosters national pride.

Set up a policy where you clearly explain your supply chain values and morals. Then research for suppliers that match the same ethical guidelines. Establish a trust relationship with your suppliers and keep track of their work and their progress.


2. Packaging


The most sustainable kind of packaging to use is corrugated cardboard. They have exceptional reusability and can be 100% recycled. Paper packaging is recyclable and can also be compostable. All kinds of single-use plastic should be banned. It is one of the main culprits of pollution, and harms the environment before being manufactured and long after its short-lived life. Styrofoam (jablo) is also to be avoided. Plastic is acceptable only when it strong, durable, and can be reused an unlimited number of times.

Several options are still in their early days, like mushroom packaging, seaweed packaging, peanut packaging that dissolves with water, and bioplastics, made from various renewable plants such as cornstarch and straw. These eco-packaging alternatives are becoming more and more in demand and soon will be globally available and accessible.


3. Shipping & delivery



After you have established environmentally-friendly packaging options, it is time to educate your consumers on how to recycle, or how they can re-use your packaging. A small note on the packaging illustrating how to dispose of it or some creative repurposing ideas will have a great impact on the consumer experience. Also, you need to ensure that your packaging is no bigger than it needs to be to hold your product and without any superfluous layers. It could be tempting to beautify your packaging and make it look more attractive, however, your ecoconscious consumers will certainly appreciate the simplicity and eco-features of your packaging.

To cushion and protect your products, especially for fragile items, avoid bubble wrap unless it is being re-used. Some alternatives include shredded paper from newspapers and magazines, or be creative and use fabric from unwanted pieces of clothes.


4. Go 'Green'



Whether you work from home, or in an office, there are several ways to 'green' your own working space, which you can start doing already today, such as: convert to LEDs, turn off lights and unplug all electronics at the end of the day, reduce on printing, use both sides of the paper, recycle properly, and include a green reminder in your email signature; these can make a big difference on the environment and your pocket in the long run.

If you want and can take it a step further, you can opt for a small solar panel to fuel your working space, sort out your trash more carefully, buy a re-usable notepad, opt for  online meetings instead of in-person, or at least car-pool or cycle to meetings, and choose eco-friendly office products, from your coffee to your printer. Don't forget to add a plant or two. Plants do more than just make the place look pretty; they absorb air pollution, help reduce stress, increase productivity, and boost creativity.


5. Waste reduction



By establishing environmentally friendly packaging protocols, and taking a number of easy steps towards greening your working space, you are already contributing to the decrease of waste. You can also start choosing your electronic equipment carefully by researching for brands that hold up to your same environmental standards and values. Choose companies who incentivize their clients to return their old electronic when buying a new one, for example. E-waste is the fastest growing waste stream in the world. The majority of these end up in landfills but many of the materials can be recovered, reused, and recycled. Disposing of electronic equipment responsibly not only reduces environmental impact but also creates green jobs and empowers the social economy.

Watch out for Waste Reduction Week in October for ideas and opportunities. 


6. Raise the life-cycle



When we throw away something, it still needs to go somewhere. As a sustainable business, you need to consider how you can increase and elevate your product's life cycle and delay it's throwing 'away' for as long as possible. This will largely depend on your industry, however, and will involve decisions on your manufacturing process and price strategy. For instance, certain materials are more durable than others but may be more expensive.

Other ideas you can examine include a return and refill scheme where customers can return the original container and re-fill it again; or a return and discount scheme, where customers can return the original packaging or part, and purchase a new one at a reduced price. Alternatively, you can use your influential power to give ideas to your customers on how they can re-purpose and re-use without resorting to landfills.


7. Get verified



Certification provides a guarantee that a product is truly ecological as it claims and is regularly controlled. To provide an element of trust to the customer, certification can only be issued by an independent body. There are several verifications bodies in Europe, specializing in different sectors, however, the most popular ones are Ecolabel and B Corp.

The advantages of eco-verification include a cutting-edge advantage in respect to your competitors, customer loyalty, community recognition, a trust-worthy and good reputation, economic benefits arising from your thoughtful initiatives, and the confidence that your business is truly making a positive impact, Getting verified is not free but the annual fees vary according to the business's income. There is also the B Impact Assessment, a free online platform that evaluates your business and helps you get started.


8. Marketing



As an eco-friendly small business owner, you should be proud of showing your commitment to being socially responsible and doing your part to protect the environment, so make sure your customers know it. Incorporate your green efforts into your marketing strategy. You may want to ask for more 'green' ideas directly from your customers; their insight will certainly be extremely valuable to you. Communicate sustainability at every opportunity to ingrain it into people's minds and in your subconscious. If you are implementing a significant new eco-innovation in your business, you might want to reconsider re-branding in order to re-align your image with your new purpose.

Before you start marketing your green biz, make sure you  are practising what you preach. or chances are that more sooner than later, you'll be exposed for greenwashing and cause irreparable damage to your business.




Eco Market will be hosting a Midsummer's Night Market at the most anticipated, family-friendly summer festival - The Farsons Beer Fest - at Ta' Qali. We will be showcasing some of Malta's top eco-friendly brands and products, in a beautiful area under the shade of this cluster of trees.





Applications for vendors are now out. 




Friday, 10 June 2022

Ecotourism and Responisble Travel

In plain words, Ecotourism is a form of travelling that is sustainable and organised with respect to the surrounding environment and the well-being of the local people. Its purpose is to benefit the economic development of a local community and to foster cultural and human rights. In its essence, Ecotourism stands for a travel experience to a destination that is relatively untouched by humans, to focus on educating the traveller with an eye to ecological conservation. 


Today, Ecotourism is a term used to describe socially responsible travelling. The popularity of Ecotourism is fueled by greater public awareness of the negative impacts of tourism be it on the destination or natural environment. 

As the entire world is focusing to find alternative sustainable means of energy, transporation, and production; so is the sector of tourism moving towards a new 'green' era. More and more tourism destinations and operators are adopting ecological best practices and many tourists are becoming aware of their ecological impact when they visit natural areas. 


We've outlined a few ways that you can reduce your carbon footprint while travelling and make your holiday greener. Green travel is about making smart choices and keeping the environment in mind at each twist and turn. First and foremost, plan in advance. The more time you spend planning and researching options the better the chances of enjoying a smooth, sustainable empowering holiday. 

 


Travelling by plane

Air travel is not sustainable, and even though we can never tell what type of scientific and technological breakthroughs there will be in the future, sustainable air travel is not projected to become eco-friendly anywhere in the forseeable future. The only way that we can make travelling by plane more responsibly, is to choose short routes. Exotic, faraway loctions are a thrill however choosing a destination closer to home is much kinder to the planet. Alternatively, you can compensate for your flight's CO2 on an online carbon offsetting site or app.

Travelling by boat

Cruise liners are not eco-friendly at all. They dump toxic waste into the ocean, run on giant diesel engines that fill the planet with carbon dioxide and kill marine wildlife. However, today many cruise line companies are incorporating green technologies into newly built ships, inclusive of solar panels, a cooking oil conversion system and energy-efficient appliances. Many liners are also removing single use plastic, recycle more effectively and donate unwanted furniture and linen to charities instead of being sent to landfills. The cruise liner industry is getting greener. Choose one of the cruise liner companies who are implementing sustainable practices. For instance, Carnival ships plug into electrical power when docked, eliminating noise and air pollution while idle; while Costa launched a new ship that runs on LNG, utilizing the world's cleanest-known fossil fuel. 


Travelling by train

Trains are the ultimate environmentally-friendly mode of tranport. They allow you to travel long distances in a relatively short amount of time. They can carry large volumes of passengers which makes them far more sustainable than other modes of transport. Travelling by train is easy, comfortable, picturesque, with fewer chances of delays; you can read, sleep and eat or do whatever you want!

Waste

Food and packaging waste accounts for as much as half of what is thrown away in a day, especially when you are far from home. There are some easy ways for you to reduce your packaging whilst travelling; such as: keep reusable bags and containers and don't be shy to say no to more bags when shopping; choose zero-waste toiletries; go paperless. 


Fairtrade

Sustainable tourism is kind tourism. The concept of fairtrade ensures that preference is given to locally sourced products and the workers get fair compensation in good conditions. In tourism, fairtrade ensures that the benefits and income are rightly distributed amongst the local people who are involved in that product or service. How to support fair trade as a traveller? Be mindful and make conscious shopping choices by avoiding mass-produced products and instead favour local artisans and certified Fairtrade stores. 


Accommodation

An eco-friendly accommodation refers to a place that is built or operated in such a way as to minimize both the carbon footprint of the business operation as well as the carbon footprint of those who work and stay there. You might have heard of Eco Hotels or Eco Resorts. But what does that really mean? It means that the administration is taking measures that may include reducing energy and water consumption, aiming for zero waste generation, handle the waste in the proper way, and using environmentally-sound products. 


Live the local experience

Homestays, local guides and programs that give back to the community are an excellent way to enjoy your destination with purpose. Check out ecobnb for a network of sustainable accommodation, where you can see in real time the number of CO2 avoided every day, the number of trees and liters of water saved every day.


Need inspiration of where to go this summer? Check out these top 10 eco-friendly cities and countries in the world!


Top 10 most eco-friendly cities in the world

* Copenhagen, Denmark

* Amsterdam, Netherlands

* Stockholm, Sweden

* Berlin, Germany

* Portland, Oregon 

* San Francisco, California

* Cape Town, South Africa

* Helsinki, Finland

* Vancouver, Canada 

* Reykjavik, Iceland


                                    

Top 10 most eco-friendly countries in the world

* Denmark 

* Luxembourg

* Switzerland

* United Kingdom

* France

* Austria

* Finland

* Sweden

* Norway

* Germany