Friendly Turtle is an online shop that sells eco-friendly products from almost 100 brands. There are more than 1,700 available items, including plastic-free cooking utensils, seed kits for your garden, and zero waste lip balm.
“A zero waste product is an item that has no waste associated with the purchase. For example, it can either be biodegradable, compostable, recyclable or reusable - nothing from the purchase has to go to landfill,” says founder Ricky Wallace (pictured above).
All orders are shipped from a central warehouse, something that reduces carbon emissions by minimising the number of couriers involved in fulfilling an order. “We use biodegradable and compostable packaging. And if we do reuse plastic packaging from a supplier, we handwrite a note in the customer’s order saying that the packaging has been reused.”
Friendly Turtle received a Recovery Loan through Starling last year. The loan has enabled the business to increase its marketing efforts and grow its product range. “We’ve been able to introduce some wonderful brands that are just starting out and also trying to do everything they can to be as green as possible.” Ricky, 35, employs two people to package and ship orders and one person to manage the brand’s social media. Ricky manages the website, finance and Customer Service.
A platform for eco-friendly brands
Before adding a brand to the platform, Ricky researches their ethics and carries out checks on the way they work. “There’s lots of greenwashing out there so we want to give our customers the assurance that the brands on our platform have been vetted and really are doing the right thing,” he says.
“We generally work with smaller companies, which means we’re usually in direct contact with the owner or director and can jump on a call to chat about their manufacturing process or suppliers.”
When he set up the business in 2019, Ricky started off with around 20 products, which he kept in his loft and shipped himself. Today, he’s approached by lots of brands every week, all of which he thoroughly checks before making a decision on whether to add them to the Friendly Turtle website.
“We ask ourselves two questions: Are they making a conscious effort to help make this world a better place? And will their product help our customers live cleaner and greener? If we can answer yes to those two questions, we start asking the brand about their manufacturing process and supply chain to satisfy ourselves that they operate in an ethical manner.”
A greener way to bank
Before joining Starling, Ricky researched the bank’s ethics and approach. “I was pleased not to find any red flags, as I had with every other bank. It really set Starling apart.”
He became a business customer in February 2020 and has since become a personal customer and recommended Starling to lots of family and friends. “My parents, my sister, my brother - everyone came over and no one has looked back since.” If a Starling customer makes a referral through the app and someone new joins the bank, a tree is planted as a thank you through Starling’s partnership with Trillion Trees.
“The app is so easy to use,” he says. “Making a payment with my previous bank was so fiddly - I had to be at my desk with a card reader, punching in various one-time codes. It was really cumbersome. Starling saves so much time - I can make payments from my phone.”
His application for a Recovery Loan also felt straightforward and safe. “The guy I spoke with at Starling was great. He wanted to understand the business, the current challenges we were facing, and was supportive throughout the whole application.”