Tuesday, 12 January 2021

Success through Sustainability (free e-book)

Happy New Year and welcome to a year full of hope and recovery! Like every new year, 2021 promises a new chapter for our lives; but if there is anything that 2020 has taught us, is that we cannot survive and thrive alone. It is by practicing collective compassion that we will achieve a life worth living, and that includes loving one another, be kind to all living creatures, and respect the natural world. Our actions for 2021 will have a deep effect on the future of humanity and planet Earth as we are approaching the point of no return. The time is NOW!


As we stand now, at the dawn of the year 2021, humans are using the equivalent of 1.7 Earths. By 2030, we are going to need 2 planets to accommodate the needs of all people. But there is no Planet B. Climate change is a result of the unsustainable economy that humans have been producing and consuming for the past 100 years. The recent pandemic has highlighted yet again the need for a global response in terms of sustainability and provides an opportunity to transform our polluted economy toward a cleaner and circular one. Every business, regardless of size and industry, can easily implement green business practices, contribute to the planet's well-being, and at the same time growing successfully and profitably.




We at Eco Market Malta have just launched a brand new e-book entitled "Success through Sustainability - How to transform your small business into a green and profitable enterprise." The e-book covers a general understanding of the meaning of 'sustainability', how to lay sustainable foundations for your existing business, or how to develop a sustainable foundation for a new one, how to transform your business operations, a series of benefits related to a sustainable business, the secret ingredient to success, and also proposes some innovative green business ideas for the 21st Century for those looking for start-up inspiration. The e-book is written with the small and medium-sized business owner in mind and communicates easy steps to transform your business into a sustainable and successful one.


In this e-book you can find the necessary motivation and overall knowledge to guide small business entrepreneurs, who want to make a positive impact and find a sense of purpose in their work. It gives examples of how they can do small steps at a time to become more impactful to their communities, to the planet, and to their customers, whilst retaining a good profit margin to remain in business and continue creating change. 


Moreover, it serves as a guide highlighting general sustainability features that a business can implement in order to become a vendor on Coral - our new multi-vendor e-commerce site.

Coral offers a solution to everyday shopping (to buyers) and a unique opportunity for success (to sellers). Nearly 150 million people shopped online for the first time in 2020 and the number of e-commerce buyers is only set to rise according to experts. Customer behavior in regards to e-commerce is changing at a very fast rate and if businesses don't adapt, they will become irrelevant. The future of retail is online. Becoming a Coral seller means having full control of your own e-shop and start selling online, without the expenses, maintenance, and know-how of building your own website. It offers small business owners the possibility to reach a wide audience of potential customers, and sell online, anywhere in the world, without spending a fortune on website building and marketing. 

According to Forbes, Business Insider, and many other global business agencies, sustainable consumerism is not only a trend but a fast-growing niche. 

What makes Coral different from all other online stores? Coral's exceptional difference is that it specializes in products that are good for the people and good for the planet. It attracts the eco-conscious and the health-conscious consumers by providing a convenient online hub where to find everything under the same roof. 

On Coral, customers can search by what's really important to them; for example, vegan, no GMO, made from up-cycled materials, organic, recyclable, cruelty--free, handmade, zero-waste, empowers women or charitable, and so on. There are a total of 30 sustainability features. (click the below image to read more).



There is a pre-defined criterion that vendors must match in order to join the Coral platform. These will largely depend on the specific line of business and determined at the evaluation stage on a case-to-case basis. Application and evaluation are free of charge. Nobody is ever rejected from Coral - if we think that your business does not have the right sustainability features, we will present you with an assessment to improve, and then re-apply. Let's make 2021 a year of positive change!


Download the free e-book by clicking on the image below.

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

The Future of Retail

It is not easy to write an end-of-year post for 2020! A strange year that negatively influenced so many people across the world. My heart goes out to all the hard-working entrepreneurs worldwide who were forced to pause, or even close their business. But, as I wrote at the beginning of the lockdown, 'every obstacle carries with it the seed of an equal, or even greater, benefit' (words of Napoleon Hill).

While the Eco Market events had to be canceled and all our work came to a standstill, we decided to take our own advice and find a new solution. And we are very excited to finally able to announce the launch of our new project. 


 

This concept was conceived years ago as a long-term objective, something to be achieved in the distant future. However, when Covid hit, we immediately realized that it was time to bring it to life. 2020 changed the face and nature of the consumer's purchasing behavior as online stores, together with cash-less transactions, became necessary for their safety and convenience. Creating an online business suddenly appeared to be the only logical thing to do. The future of retail is clearly online.


Coral is a multi-vendor online marketplace that features a myriad of products from many different businesses and artisans in Malta. What makes this online store really unique is the fact that all the products featured on it, possess specific common aspects – they are all good for the body and good for the planet. 

Coral is the ideal shopping platform for the health-conscious and eco-conscious consumer. Everything is marked according to our sustainability criteria, which ensures that each product has the right benefits. For instance, if you are vegan, you can search according to this criterion, and your search results will only show you vegan-approved products. There are 25 different sustainability criteria, which allows the buyer to discover and choose products according to their ethics, beliefs, and preferences. (click to enlarge)




A little background story on Coral

Coral is probably one of the most visually beautiful elements of underwater life. Sadly, corals around the world are dying, in most of the cases through what is called bleaching. This crisis is a result of elevated sea temperatures which ‘bleaches’ the coral; it loses its algae and becomes white. We already lost more than half of the world’s coral reefs to bleaching. Scientists predict that by 2050, all coral reefs will be in danger, if global warming is not tackled seriously.

Recently, I watched the documentary 'Chasing Coral' on Netflix. If you have not yet watched it, I highly recommend you do. We are in awe of this magnificent organism and its qualities. Did you know that Coral properties are used for the treatment of conditions such as arthritis and cancer? Did you know that Malta is home to the deepest and most precious Coral in the world? You can tell how it influenced us :) 


The platform contains several other innovative features. First of all, it gives the buyer the convenience of finding everything in the same place. The site is extremely user-friendly, dynamic, and intuitive, with a myriad of categories including Fashion & Accessories, Baby & Kids, Health & Beauty, Home & Office, Travel & Outdoors, and Food & Beverage. 

Buyers can create their own accounts, leave their own reviews on their purchases, and create wish-lists, whilst enjoying 100% buyer protection and safety. 

We invite you to discover Coral for yourself by going to coral.shopping

Interested in becoming a vendor on Coral? 

You can apply from HERE

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Teaching environmental sustainability to kids through the love of books!

Children are the future. They are the ones who will have to face the consequences of the planet's sustainability issues, and probably the ones who will need to find solutions to environmental problems that they are inheriting from us. What we teach them today is going to affect their life choices and decisions in the future, so we need to make them aware of what is possibly the most essential element of living and surviving - our planet!

Teaching children about sustainability will give them the opportunity to become sensible about their environment, realize the importance to live in harmony with nature, and as grown-ups, they will be able to take responsible lifestyle decisions. What we learn as children become the foundation of our habits, values, and priorities. We have both the duty and the joy to instill in our children the right ones.


Our educators do a marvelous job in providing knowledge to our children, but it is more powerful when the parents or guardians enrich their children's awareness, first and foremost by giving a good example at home, and secondly by investing in good quality books. Recently I discovered a new small local business which provides Subscription Boxes for children. They have a different topic every month. To my delight, their very first subscription box is called 'Follow Your Curiosity' and it focuses on the planet and environmental sustainability. I was immediately thrilled! 


There are 2 books. One is '100 Things to know about planet Earth', exquisitely illustrated and accompanied by an innovative online section where you can find several videos, fact-sheets and quizzes. The recommended age is 8+ however it is so colourful and playful that younger kids will certainly enjoy reading it with an adult and discovering all these wonders of the world. 








The other book is 'Helping our Planet', a very interesting guidebook with practical and helpful checklists and calls to action that will motivate the reader to explore sustainability issues in their everyday life such as eating, shopping, traveling, ways to save energy and cut down on waste. 240 pages of wisdom gems to implant in our precious future generation. 




In the box you will also find a large world map perfect to hang in the kids' room, a colour-in sheet of planet Earth and 2 flashcards with cute and funny facts about animals.




Fijgo's 'Follow your Curiosity' makes a great and significant gift for the children in your family this Christmas. After all, what makes a better present than education? Instilling the love of reading books early gives a child a head start on expanding their vocabulary and building independence and self-confidence. It helps children learn to make sense not only of the world around them but also the people by building socio-emotional skills, and of course, imagination. 

As Jacqueline Kennedy said, "There are many little ways to enlarge a world. Love of books is the best of all."

You can learn more about and order the Subscription Box from HERE

Follow Fijgo Books on Facebook








Tuesday, 3 November 2020

Hosting an Eco-friendly Christmas Party

It is without a doubt the time of year when we consume and buy the most. By all means, let’s celebrate and enjoy together this special occasion, but we can do it without damaging further our environment. Think about all the non-recyclable single use stuff that goes to waste during Christmas and end up sitting in landfill for hundreds of years … bunting, tinsel, bows, wrapping paper…. Whether you are the host, or the invitee, there are a few really simple tricks for a party that doesn’t cost the ‘Earth’ – both financially and ecologically. Yes, having a zero-waste party will actually save you money!

Gifts

With all the bursting shop displays and markets popping up in every town, it is difficult to resist the temptation of buying something. The most important ‘green’ aspect to consider when buying something is where it was made. Buying local is important as it has a very low carbon footprint. Most mass-consumed products are made in Asia, even branded products. Choosing handmade and home-made is an excellent choice as you are buying a genuine product, that can be personalised to your wishes, all the while keeping a circular economy. However, it is becoming increasingly popular to buy ‘experiences’ rather than products. The choice is practically endless and it is a very sustainable choice. Classic options are cinema tickets, pass for museums or archaeological sites, dance or music lessons, spa, gym, concert tickets, etc… For an original twist, consider buying tickets for a lecture or a summit that you have heard them showing interest for; or a workshop about gardening or to learn how to grow food at home if they have a green finger; an exteme sports experience such as zip-line or an escape room activity, if they are the adventurous type; or perhaps a voucher to use one of the many alternative methods of transport now available in our country. If you are looking for inspiration to purchase eco-sustainable gift ideas, take a look at Eco Market’s Christmas Gift Guide.

Wrapping

The most sustainable way of wrapping your gifts is by re-purposing existing materials. A colourful magazine, comic book, children’s drawings, old maps or newspapers are some of the options. This is ideal for wrapping the gifts of your children – fun and different; family members – they know you like things the eco way; and your eco-conscious friends who will appreciate and respect your thought. Once the unwrapping is done, everything can simply go in the recycle bag… or if they are still in good condition, consider keeping them for re-use. If you are looking for a packaging for colleagues or peers, something that is neat and elegant, the best option is to go for plain brown paper. You can easily write on it, or you can create your own rubber-stamp for a personalised touch. Brown paper can go in the recycle bag. Instead of ribbon, buy a roll of earth-colour twine or hemp string. Then use dried leaves, flowers, pine cones, berries or small pieces of twigs to place in the centre instead of a bow. Avoid tape and glue. They make re-cycling impossible and the whole batch would end up in landfill. Tissue paper is a great way to embellish the gift wrapping and it is 100% recyclable. Another alternative to wrapping gifts is cloth – known as the Furoshiki method, it is a traditional Japanese art of wrapping, originally used to transport goods. Clearly the cloth should be re-purposed or used for another gift-wrapping.

Decorations

The planet doesn’t need more plastic stuff. Here is an opportunity to start brainstorming ways to decorate and embellish your home in an original, stylish and sustainable way this Christmas! There are two simple rules that I follow when it comes to any kind of decor: first, choose a theme; second, less is more. Choosing a theme for Christmas is a personal choice, but if you want to know the most Eco-friendly way, is to follow nature. Twigs, hollies, cinnamon sticks, leaves, flowers, petals, herbs, pine cones… they make faboulous wreaths and centre pieces. They also add a beautiful touch to your existing home decor; a lantern, a candle-holder, a curtain rail, a vase, a frame… You can be creative and make your own ornaments for the Christmas Tree and around the house with these natural and organic pieces. If you have kids, consider a mini craft session where they create their own ornament. They can write their name and the year on them, and it can become a beautiful yearly tradition to look forward to! The internet is bursting with DIY crafts for Christmas. Make sure that your base material is something sustainable, such as wood or cloth. You can also make a myriad of decorations from old Christmas cards. Finally, the lights: they create an amazing atmosphere and we all have them. This year, chose LED lights and only switch them on when really needed. There is no need to keep all the festive lights on all the time. Let the cables sleep at night too 🙂

Food and Drink

While we consider our responsibility towards the well-being of the planet, let us also consider all the other earthlings that share our ‘home’. Going vegan is a personal choice, however choosing not to eat meat or fish for the Holidays is a truly selfless gift you can do. You can find many delicious vegan savoury and sweet recipes or you can always order from an establishment or hire a vegan chef for a home-cook out. Try it this Christmas and discover how Vegan food can be as much delicious and satisfying as any other food! When preparing your Christmas meals, remember the number one priority to choose local seasonal ingredients. The food will result in homely, fresher and tastier food. For a traditional menu, you can easily find the main ingredients from a local manufacturer with whole-some home-made products. Local organic farmers are at the forefront of sustainability as their own livelihood depends on it. Don’t forget to take with you when you go shopping your own container and bags and you won’t be paying for extra packaging. If you are shopping for an exotic ingredient, take a moment to read the label. Where does it come from? What’s in it? Who made it? If possible go for Fair Trade and/or Certified Organic labels. Look for the same labels when it comes to drinks and alcohol too, and invite your friends and guests to try new brands of modern organic, biodynamic and vegan alcohol.

Pre-Party Organisation

Let’s start with one of the biggest culprits for waste at parties: disposable plats, cups, cutlery, straws etc. All you will ever need are reusables. Take the occasion to bring out your finest dinner set. Make sure the dishwasher is always fully loaded – or if you are washing by hand fill up the sink with soapy water and only change it when you really need to. Remember to use eco-friendly detergent so that the water can be re-used to water the plants, for instance. When you go for a grocery haul before you whip up all those (plant-based) Christmas dishes, make sure you buy ingredients that are locally sourced to avoid air-flown emissions. If you’re thinking to purchase some cake, support a local baker, and so on. Make sure that your shopping list is prepared ahead of time, buy in bulk and save on money, time and transport energy. Organise in advance what needs to go in the oven and keep the door closed to conserve heat and save energy. Set up recycling bins throughout your party, for cans, bottles, paper products and food compost. Make sure your guests know where to dispose of their items, and how to do so properly at the beginning of the party – it could be a great icebreaker and with the festive spirit abound, friends & fam may be open to ways they can reduce their environmental impact. According to NSO statistics, Malta throws away 22% of perfectly good and edible food every year due to over-cooking and mis-management. Let’s try and prepare responsible amounts this year and avoid food waste. Team up with other guests and share a ride, call a taxi, or use one of car-sharing options. That way you don’t have to worry about drinking, driving or parking, and you will not be adding to the fumes and pollution in the city. Finish off your eco-party with a gift bag that doesn’t leave behind any waste. Homemade granola bars or gingerbread men wrapped in paper, for instance, would make a great treat. Plants or seeds to grow their own herbs at home, such as the Eco Gardener Kit, would make another green gift.

Let’s celebrate responsibly this year. We can all enjoy the festive season with our special humans without the need to over-buy and over-consume. All it takes is a little thought and good will.

Happy Eco Christmas! 🎄🌍💚

Creating positive changes at Christmas time

If there was ever a time that could push us towards positive change, then this is definitely it! This year we all had our share of fear and faith, reflection and prudence. Besides the chaos and the inconveniences, we have re-discovered extraordinary benefits of slowing down the pace of our lives. Covid taught us many valuable lessons, the most important of which is a necessity to live on a healthy planet and maintain a healthy eco-system. Climate change is real. Biodiversity loss is real. Air and sea pollution are real. All these contribute to unsustainability. As citizens of planet Earth, we are all responsible, and we must therefore become accountable for our own actions and habits. Christmas and New Year are traditionaly the most ideal times to bring about change, and our next big lesson to learn is how to live sustainably.


What is sustainability?

To be sustainable, means to be able to maintain a balanced level of give and take. Right now, the planet is in an unsustainable state, for we are taking more than we are giving back - and we are taking quicker than the planet can regenerate by itself. One of the principal problems of unsustainability is consumption. Since the industrial revolution and the invention of plastic a hundred or so years ago, we have been consuming carelessly, impulsively, and negligently. We buy without thinking and we buy things we don't need, and in particular during Christmas time, we are relenetlessly driven into an over-consumption race with the excuse of gifting and celebrating.

Becoming a conscious consumer means that you put thought and care before purchasing anything. Asking yourself questions such as: Where was this made? How did it arrive here? Who made it? Who or what suffered so that this prouct could be created? Celebrating a 'Green' Crhsitams is possible when you choose eco-sustainable products. It means that the products were sourced, manufactured, produced, packaged and transported with respect to the environment. An eco-friendly product is a product that was made with sustainability as a priority guideline.


What is good for the planet is also good for the people

This is a pleasant consequence that not everybody knows about. Eco-sustainable products are not only good for the environment, but also good for people. For instance, sustainable food and beverage products would not contain any dangerous chemicals or pesticides; and Eco-friendly body products would not contain anyd harmful substances. Therefore, if you care about what you put in and on your body, and want to live a healthy lifestyle, choosing sustainable products is the way forward.


Choosing eco-sustainable options

So, let's end this strange and mysterious year on a good note! Let us start taking responsibility for our actions and choose ethical and sustainable gifts for our loved ones taking inspiration from Malta's Top Eco-friendly Gift Ideas, a list created by Eco Market Malta. The list contains a beautiful collection of gift ideas from local green startups, artisans and SMEs. Shopping local is a huge factor for sustainability as it reduces the product's carbon footprint. Choosing to buy products from this list will also eliminate the risk of buying something that only pretends to be eco-friendly as our sellers are well curated.

Malta's Top Eco-friendly Gift Ideas features 30 perfect gifts for your friends and family members. For instance, the Zero Waste Starter Kit is an elegant box ready to be gifted to someone who wants to reduce the use of plastic; while the Eco Gardener Kit is your ideal gift for your green-finger friend.

There are also several gift options for sustainable home appliances, jewellery, clothing, beauty, decor, wellness, children's toys, gifts for the new mum, and unique original ideas such as 'adopt a dolphin'. 



Be the change you want to see

Whether you are buying for an eco-conscious person, or someone who is not yet environmentally-aware, this list offers quality and well-priced gift ideas for everyone. As consumers we can make a conscious choice to bring positive change in our lives, and since actions speak louder than words, your eco gift will also be a message inviting others to make their own positive impact. It is no secret that a meaningful and thoughtful gift is more appreciated than any high-priced item money can buy. This year, let's choose to shop sustainably and responsibly, avoid waste, be kind to the planet and enjoy a simple and 'green' Christmas.








Monday, 12 October 2020

People, Planet and Profit - The future of businesses

In technical terms it is called the Triple Bottom Line and it is the future of all businesses. The TBL is a framework to evaluate the performance of a business, and it takes into consideration the fact that businesses have a huge impact on the world and ensures that this impact is positive. Unfortunately, many so-called successful businesses make huge profits at the expense of its workers, community and environment.




The TBL ensures that a business can measure its success not only by its profit, but also by the positive impact it has on people and planet. That includes its employees, its neighbouring community, its consumers, its collaborators as well as its operations, carbon footprint, manufacturing processing, source of raw materials, and so on.

A business that has specific social or environmental objectives that serve as its primary purpose is called a 'Social Enterprise' whereby the TBL is an inherent element from conception. Social Entrepreneurs are therefore entrepreneurs who start and run a business for the greater social good and not just for the pursuit of profits. In addition, they usually invest their profits in the business's primary objectives, rather than having them pocketed by shareholders. 

The Eco Market is a good example of a Social Enterprise. Through its operations, it has a positive impact on its community of conscious consumers and producers; and a positive impact on its environment, by promoting and advocating for a sustainable lifestyle. Profits are re-invested to reach new ambitious goals for an even greater impact and for the benefit of all.





In Europe, Social Enterprises legally exist in Denmark, Luxembourg, United Kingdom, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Finland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia, Greece, and under development in Latvia and Poland. There are many several Social Enterprises in Malta but are not yet legally recognized as such.



Enter SEAM - Social Entrepreneurs Association Malta. A non-profit association launched in September 2020, which was formed for the attainment of these purpose;

1. - To raise awareness and educate society about the concept of Social Entrepreneurship, particularly amongst start-ups and students

2. - To facilitate those who aspire to become social entrepreneurs and encourage cross-border collaborations

3. - To lobby for the recognition of the Social Enterprise Act as a legal business type in Malta. 



To learn more about SEAM and social entrepreneurship, please visit their website. They have a very comprehensive FAQs. You can also join as a member and become part of a conscious network of businesses and individuals committed to bring positive change in Malta.


















Sunday, 11 October 2020

How to embrace a Zero-Waste lifesytle

Hands up those who are living a Zero-Waste lifestyle? If I had to ask this question in front of a crowd, I don't think I'd see any raised hands at all. Why? Because nobody is possibly living the perfect trash-free, plastic-free life that they would wish. Zero-Waste is a process, and it does not happen over-night. If you try to make a significant change from one day to the next, it is very likely that you won't succeed. 

Embracing a Zero-Waste lifestyle is a process. It is a mindful deliberation to tackle one habit at a time and stick with it until it becomes part of your daily routine and you don't even need to think about it anymore. 

The Eco Market's mission was always to facilitate and encourage people to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Our efforts have been, amongst others, organising events featuring a selection of approved eco-vendors together in one place for your convenience, raise awareness about sustainability issues, promoting and highlighting a number of products and services that are exceptionally eco-sustainable, and now we are introducing a new approach. 

Today, we are happy to launch our very first product, the Zero Waste Starter Kit. In collaboration with 7 local green businesses, it consits of a curated variety of every day objects to help you transit towards a sustainable way of living.   



The Zero Waste Starter Kit includes:

* Duo-pack reusable veggie bags - by Veco
* Reusable medium beeswax food wrap - by Frank Wraps
* 4 bamboo straws - by Wasp Emporium
* A month's supply of toothpaste tablets - by Hames Sensi
* 3pc bamboo cutlery set - by Rebels with a Cause
* Duo-pack reusable cotton cosmetic pads - by Gabe Boutique Malta
* Pack of 50 bamboo cotton buds - by Rebels with a Cause
* Plantable seed-paper Greeting Card - by ByDyring



The total retail value of the combined items in the box is Eur 44.65. We are offering you the chance to buy everything at only Eur 36.99 including a convenient and reusable carton box and free delivery in Malta and Gozo. 

The Zero Waste Starter Kit comes as a limited edition. Secure yours by pre-ordering it from HERE.





You also have the opportunity to include your own personalised message on the greeting card and we can deliver it for you as a gift, just in time for Christmas!