THE GREEN RAVEN
Here at the Ravens’ Nest we have always been seeking ways of ‘going green’. To pursue the knowledge and practices that lead to making more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible decisions. It is not a destination, but our continuing journey. Going green is not just a trendy lifestyle choice for us. Rather, it is a heartfelt desire to help protect the environment as best as we can, and to sustain natural resources for the current and future generations.
LET’S START AT THE VERY BEGINNING, A VERY GOOD PLACE TO START…
When we first started Raven Spirits and the HRAFN GIN brand as an ambitious start-up, we were determined to work in an ethical and sustainable way. Now, as we spread our wings and grow our brand internationally, we feel a responsibility to not only follow our environmental instincts, but also to inspire others to join us on the journey.
Callum and I first discussed our ideas for HRAFN GIN whilst sitting on the edge of Loch Indaal on the Isle of Islay off Scotland’s west coast. The waters ebb and flow forming a link to seas and oceans across the world and we mourn the great plastic pollution of our seas and oceans and how it affects us all. We had been brought up to respect the natural world and so to operate Raven Spirits in an ecologically responsible way was as natural to us as breathing.
But having an environmentally friendly vision and applying it in today’s reality of a commercial environment are not easy playmates to please. ‘Play Nice!’ is not a mantra that business makes easy. It is not just that following your ecological instincts can cost far more to the gross margin than opting for the ‘cheap plastic’ alternatives, but also there are hidden plastic pit-traps. The best we could do was to approach each operation within our business and to examine it through an eco-prism and work towards our goal of sustainability as and when able.
The first part of our operation was the manufacture of HRAFN GIN, the second part the Branding. We knew these would be the easier parts of the operation to apply eco-friendly standards since we were in total control of the processes and could determine our environmental credentials from the start and in looking ahead by exercising due-diligence and developing clear procedures. For instance, ensuring the paper we use on our labels comes from sustainable forestry or recycled sourcing. Moreover, we sought to as far as we were able to eliminate use of all plastics during the distilling process, except where (regrettably) no suitable alternatives are available. We also decided to look at using as local a supply chain as was possible without compromising the quality of our products or Brand and seek to reduce delivery distances and therefore emissions and our hydrocarbon footprint.
So far so good…
THE PROBLEM OF PACKAGING
We all know that Health and Safety is a paramount consideration, and this is very much to the fore in packaging: HRAFN GIN bottles need to be packed into cases for distribution to shops, wholesalers, bars, restaurants and hotels for both our domestic and international market outlets.Whilst on board; supposedly safe in a shipping container, the bottles can be jostled about and damaged; or become subject to temperature fluctuations that can literally ‘pop our corks’.Then there is the problem of online selling where HRAFN GIN bottles are sent directly to our individual consumers – that’s you, the great family of gin drinkers! Accordingly, we have to make sure that your precious HRAFN GIN bottles are well packed so as to arrive safe and sound, intact and dry.
All you good people know that we Ravens do not charge for postage and packaging for online UK sales from our official website shop(www.hrafngin.com). But that does not mean that the cost or the quality of the postage and packaging takes a back seat and it is important to us to adhere to the desire to be as environmentally friendly as possible. As buyers of spirits ourselves online, we remark on the type and quality of packaging delivered and are aware that when you are buying your gin online the real cost of your bottle can become far higher depending on how festooned in plastic tape, plastic air-sacs and plastic coated or veneered boxes the delivery packaging is.
Imagine our delight when we discovered that an alternative was available and we could achieve our aim of eliminating the dreaded air-sac, the bottle’s evil sleeping bag!
BEES DO IT, NOW, BIRDS DO IT - LET’S DO IT (LET’S TALK HEXAGRAMS) … apologies to Cole Porter
The moment you click on the website of Flexi-Hex (www.flexi-hex.com) they declare … ‘Adaptable plastic-free packaging solutions for a changing world’. Flexi-Hex is a company with parallels to Raven Spirits. It was founded by two brothers too - Sam and Will Boex, who are also surfers; it cares about the natural world and whilst we sit on the edge of the sea, Sam and Will surf its waves!
The Flexi-Hex packaging for bottles takes inspiration from the intrinsic strength that can be found in the honeycombs of bees. It is a paper-based solution with over 85% recycled content that expands to form an impact resistant protective honeycomb layer, which encloses and grips the bottle in an innovative Eco-solution. This inner casement gets its final shield layer when placed inside a ‘pinch top’ carton that, again, protects by suspending the base of the bottle to prevent movement during transit. All we need is a short length of packing tape, for which we only use paper tape, none of that nasty shiny plastic tape!
What we love about this solution is that it is cost-effective, plastic-free, recyclable and biodegradable. We also love the fact it is aesthetically pleasing and can be reused. Therefore, when you purchase a bottle of HRAFN GIN as a gift you can readily reuse the protective honeycomb structure and carton. In short it is really smart and stylish - just like us Ravens – well, at least one of us!
This new relationship between HRAFN GIN and Flexi-Hex has allowed us to achieve a major goal: that of eliminating plastic from our online shop’s packaging. It also looks great, is lightweight, compact, robust and reusable.
The Ravens are original stakeholders in The Gin Cooperative’s International Scottish Gin Day (‘ISGD’) event, and we are delighted that Flexi-Hex is now one of ISGD’s sponsors. This underlines Flexi-Hex’s commitment to the Scottish gin industry, and we are chuffed to bits to welcome Sam and Will to the Raven family as one of our jolly nice preferred suppliers who have helped us improve our environmental response strategy!
Let's leave the last words to Sam and Will Boex from Flexi-Hex:
"We’re thrilled to be working with Callum and Peter to support their sustainability efforts. It’s a great partnership with aligned values and we look forward to seeing more people drink Hrafn Gin!”
Cheers to that!