Love Stock Hate Waste Interview: Elephant Box
By now, you’ve probably heard about our Love Stock Hate Waste campaign. It’s all about ending the needless destruction of unsold stock - and distributing it to those who need it most.
As part of the campaign, we’re asking brands to pledge never to destroy their usable stock. Over 100 fantastic retailers have now made that promise, and to celebrate, we’re interviewing some of them about why.
Our fourth interview is with Liz Watson, co-founder of Elephant Box. Elephant Box creates sturdy metal containers that will outlast your plastic lunchbox 100 times over. Read on to find out about how this company minimises waste - and Liz's top tip for other retailers.
What are your thoughts on wasted stock in retail?
I think that there’s a lot more of it than consumers know about, particularly with the advent of Amazon and post-Brexit, with warehouses being in the EU and shipping to the UK. I think it's also part of a culture shift - people buy stuff and expect to be able to return it easily, but don't necessarily think of the logistics involved.
Sellers should communicate what they do with returns. Other than dealing with returns, I think there would be a huge appetite from consumers for seconds or slightly damaged stock. We have found this with our washing-up bowl that we are selling at a 20% discount. People love a bargain if they know exactly why it's a bargain!
Why did you sign the Love Stock Hate Waste Pledge?
Our ethos is all about buying better and buying less. A huge part of this is for us as the producers to make sure that we make better and don't contribute to excess waste with poorly-made products.
What does your company do to avoid wasted stock?
We make sure our products are made and designed as well as they possibly can be to ensure no returns! If we do get damaged products, we are lucky to have a small and friendly team who run our fulfilment for us. We can make decisions on damaged stock and returns fairly easily, whether that's repairing and returning, or selling items as seconds. I appreciate that when a business is bigger, those kinds of decisions get harder.
What's your one tip for other retailers?
Always listen to your customers. Learn from them. Let them tell you what's important to them in what you do and what they want from you. Then all you have to do is give it to them! When you’re passionate about your products, it's easy to get too attached to them - but you need to step back and see if people are actually interested and if they’re serving a purpose. That's what's important to us at Elephant Box.
Is there anything you'd like to see from the government on this?
I would like companies to have to be more transparent about what they do with damaged or returned stock. Which would probably lead to an outcry as consumers realise the scale of the issue. Failing that, the government could just go ahead and legislate against unnecessary wastage!
What gives you hope for the future?
Campaigns like this. I really believe consumers would be outraged if they knew the reality of how much stock gets wasted. You would see more lobbying for legislation and boycotting of the brands who are the worst performers in this area. People care about what goes into products they spend their money on, and campaigns like this are super valuable in getting the information out there.
Sick of flimsy plastic? Browse the Elephant Box range of stainless steel lunchboxes, washing-up bowls, bottles, straws and more here.