Andrew Thornton on how Delivering Plastic Free is all about Heart!


Yesterday, I had the honour of being interviewed live on Sky News live sharing our Plastic Free Zone project.

So what you may wonder has this to do with heart? I fundamentally believe (and have proven) that businesses run heartfully are more successful than those that focus on profits alone. Let me illustrate the connection between heart and plastic using this project as an example.

To run a company heartfully, you need a purpose that means something – something to your employees, your customers and other stakeholders. At Thornton’s Budgens, ours is, “We are the Community Supermarket that really cares”.  That means, we care about the people who work in the store, our customers and community, our suppliers, and our environment.

From that place of care, we asked to meet A Plastic Planet (APP), an organisation committed to reducing our addiction to plastic ; they showed us the film Plastic Ocean (you can watch this on Netflix) – it bought home to us the horrors of what plastic is doing to our environment. As we all care, we knew that we had to do something – because we could. We could show the major supermarkets that it isn’t as difficult as they think.

After some initial exploration about options, we decided that we had to choose a launch date and stick with it. Even though APP had suggested 4-6 months, I liked the idea of launching on Guy Fawkes day, so we decided to see what we could do by Nov 5 (which was 10 weeks away) and set a target of launching with a very ambitious 1,500 products (just over 10% of our full range). We would be the the first supermarket in the UK to do this and and the second in the world; the Dutch retailer who had been the first, launched with 700 lines.

Ten weeks on (and 3 days late), on November 8 we launched with 1,825 lines; we managed to do this through our self-leadership approach. This is how, two years ago, the managers and supervisors at Thornton’s Budgens decided that they wanted to develop themselves and their human potential. It is critical. They chose. Not me!

And, that we could measure how well we were currently using our potential, using the measurement tool of our partner BEING at Full Potential

This approach means we now have a Head Coach and not a store manager, that the ‘self-leadership’ team take full ownership for their areas and work together to deliver the goals THEY have set. It means that they have had to step up and focus on what they are good at and love doing (we call this being in-flow).

And that, combined with lots of hard work, meant we could launch our Plastic Free zones so quickly. As well as sourcing new products and packaging, this meant re-merchandising the entire store to highlight and separate plastic free products from ones with plastic.

Hats off to the team for doing this and for laying down the gauntlet for the big supermarkets. If we with our limited resources (and our hearts) can do this, why can’t they? Or maybe they don’t have the heart?

If you want to know a bit more about how ‘heart’ in business works, take three minutes to watch this animated film:

As a closing note – we couldn’t have done this without APP, who incidentally, I met when I was at a Conscious Business Lab discussing how you run a business with a heart!

If you are in a position to influence the amount of plastic packaging used and want to make a difference, please contact, as they would love to help you as they did us.

1 thought on “Andrew Thornton on how Delivering Plastic Free is all about Heart!

  1. Pingback: Culture, breakfast and the power of self-leadership - Heart in Business Limited

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