Essential Trading prides itself on doing things differently. When you buy from Essential you are supporting an alternative to the large corporations who damage our environment and show little regard for the people who make their products. We aim to do things better:
- A worker co-operative: Essential is owned and operated by its members. We make decisions democratically to ensure everyone has an equal say in how the business is run.
- Vegetarian: we are opposed to the exploitation of animals. All of our products are vegetarian and largely plant-based.
- GMO-free: where possible, all available products are free from any sort of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), a policy we've had since the mid-1990s.
- No air freight: we attempt to minimise our impact on the environment as much as possible. All of our products are shipped by land or sea, never by air. This was a precedent we set from the first day of trading.
- Support independents: you won’t find any of our products in the supermarkets! We have made an ethical decision not to work with large corporations, instead choosing to support independent shops and suppliers.
- Natural energy sources: our warehouse is fitted with solar panels that generate clean, green energy. Any additional energy needed to run our sites comes from 100% renewable sources. We even have a carbon-neutral website hosting service!
- Packaging: we strive to minimise packaging and use ecological variants wherever possible. We have introduced paperless invoicing for our customers and any paperwork that does require printing is done so on recycled paper. The shrink wrap we use to bind our products for delivery is made of recycled plastic and reducing plastic for our retail packs remains an ongoing project.
- Produce: we are constantly reviewing and increasing our range to support zero waste strategies. We do our very best to ensure any food that is fit for consumption but that we cannot sell, for whatever reason, is directed to charities, foods banks and community centres in Bristol and the wider South West.
Essential Trading is also an accredited Living Wage employer, certified by the Living Wage Foundation (www.livingwage.org.uk).
Originally instigated in 2001 by Citizens UK, the focus was upon securing a living wage for all UK workers, one that reflected the true cost of living and not simply the Government’s minimum remuneration. The London-based movement generated support from political groups, independent businesses and organisations who believed that a fair day’s work deserved a fair day’s wage. The grassroots campaign quickly gathered strength and not only addressed the salaries of employed workers, but also the plight of often-neglected out sourced workers. Rallies and fundraising events were effectively executed and consequently, London hospitals, schools and City businesses joined the movement.
Following a major public assembly in 2004, the Mayor of London declared his support, and in 2011 the movement went national with the official launch of the Living Wage Foundation. Garnering cross-party political support throughout the UK, the benefits of the movement are now fully-recognised by employers and employees. Employers have talked of contented workforces, lower staff turnovers and increased production, while workers reap the benefit of a supportive salary.
Recognition as a Living Wage employer is central to Essential Trading’s work ethics. As a co-operative organisation, we believe in a structured and fair pay scale, one where all workers are introduced at the same rate and further offered membership to the employee-owned business after a six-month period. In addition, Essential’s global producers adhere to fair trade policies, reflecting our equitable remuneration morals.