Sustainable Goals: For Our Present, For Our Future

Wednesday 21st November: I found myself speaking in a room full of attendees at Stockport Women's Institute. I had only found out the event some 7 minutes before it was due to start. Thanks to the 4 Heatons Trader's Association. Who launched their #KickThePlastic campaign that same night.

Headlining, was Professor Jamie Woodward of the University of Manchester who spoke about his team's work and offering fascinating insight into the effects of microplastics Greater Manchester's ecology.

Speaking with the 4 Heatons Traders Association During the break, I was then thrust, unprepared, on stage 5 minutes later to give an impromptu introduction to our work tackling single use plastics and also outline how our business works with local traders, horticulturists and couriers to maximise our positive social impact footprint. By engaging social enterprises and minimising the effect of greenhouse gasses. All through our optimised supply chains. 

Inspiration & Perspiration

Market.Be is rethinking fair trade. We want to become the first company to combine good, ethical business practise, great technology and noble social aims to create a better, fairer, sustainable society for everyone. Yet, that's traditionally a hard sell. So we've simplified it. 

  • Market.Be is an online shop selling catering supplies and associated subscription products..
  • Market.Be is also an analysis firm. Data driving specialist, elegant solutions through practical economic and business activity.

As a founding team that mix sympathetic market traders, operators, economists and technologists, Market.Be has no shortage of ambition, skill and support. 

Our business aligns to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. An equally ambitious programme aiming to create a better world in every country, across every sector of every society, by 2030.  

"Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

Source: Bruntland Report for the World Commission on Environment and Development (1992)

At first glance, the 17 SGD's don't seem to apply to business. Yet, the contrary is often the case.

This isn't just about being eco-friendly. The Goals cross into modern slavery, gender equality, torture, smart and sustainable cities and more. Many with a direct link in UK statute. Look hard enough into businesses and you're bound to find at least one of the goals has a bearing on enterprise. Meaning an interplay exists between each problem and as such, their solutions. On many occasions, solving one, solves a number. 

A Case Study

We made a conscious effort to ensure our packaging and marketing is compostable, recyclable, reusable and dual use. We also ensured our last mile delivery used cycle couriers. Minimising greenhouse emissions. Our compostable cutlery, bowls trays and containers are packaged in unused food waste bags. Not plastics. We encourage food traders to drop any leftover food into the bags and seal it. 

These bags are collected and delivered to allotments participating in our Bukashi composting scheme. Either by traders or markets. 

To encourage more collaboration, we reward participating traders with really useful benefits. Like extra cutlery, or sample boxes, simply by using the bags for how they are intended. Taking part is easy: 

  1. Take a pic of you and a partner trader, or market operator, showing the full bag
  2. Tag everyone in, including us
  3. Post it on social media - Instagram and twitter work best

It's clearly great marketing for you (you are marketing your business, right?) and demonstrates commitment to a sustainable future and a willingness to work with us to reach some of the major goals of the SDG. Sure, you'll also get a retweet. So you, your partner traders and us gets great exposure. 

Going for Goal

We've been quite lucky. Market.Be spun out through in-house R&D. Embedding sustainable processes into the DNA of the company, while promoting suppliers keen to participate, who align well to one or more of our aims. 

Not every independent trader is ready or even aware of the goals, nor is everyone a perfect fit. Yet, there are already traders naturally advancing the 17 goals and through our work, is something we want to shout more about at national level. Many are surprised when they realise. Especially as it hasn't cost them anything. 

It's worth looking at the goals. See where you sit on the spectrum and also which ones appeal to you. There is a great chance you're already doing something to reduce plastic use, or meet any of the other goals. 

Are you already doing any of this already? Let us know in the comments below and if you think you fit the bill, get in touch at