When founders Abbie & Chris decided to pack in their jobs, fill up their backpacks, and head out for the adventure of a lifetime, Cooper King Distillery was born. On their travels they were lucky enough to visit, work and live in some of the world’s most beautiful places. They want these places to stay beautiful for future generations. Thus, Cooper King is built on the basis of sustainability – environmentally, financially, and socially.
There are many ways we’re becoming a more responsible business, from the energy which powers the distillery, to the boxes we ship, the ingredients used to make gin, and even the companies we work with. So, what do we do?
One Man’s Trash
Think your empty Cooper King bottle is too nice to throw away? So do we. That’s why we’ve introduced our new refill scheme. Bring your empty Dry Gin bottle back to the distillery and we’ll refill it, saving you 15% off a new bottle. Simply pop the stopper in the bottle when empty (no need to rinse), bring it for refilling during opening hours and leave in the knowledge that you’ve helped reduce landfill, supported a responsible company and saved money too.
If you don’t live nearby and can’t refill, then reuse! You’ve sent us fantastic pictures of bottles cleverly upcycled into vases, water jugs, and even lamps. Local craftsperson Micky Wood is raising money for Alzheimer’s Research UK by turning empty Cooper King gin bottles into lamps which look stunning on a shelf. Pick yours up for £10 from the distillery or nearby Leaping Hare Gallery in Easingwold, or have a go at making your own.
If you don’t reuse it, then recycle it. Remove the back label and stopper as these aren’t currently recyclable and pop in your glass bin to give it a new lease of life. Recycling glass conserves non-renewable fossil fuels and reduces the emission of harmful gasses into the atmosphere.
From Small Seeds…
If you’ve picked up a bottle of our Dry Gin you’ve probably noticed the 1% for the Planet logo on one of the neck tags. It’s an organisation that pairs responsible for-profit businesses like ours with hard-working charities whose primary goal is the preservation of our planet. We’re the only distillery in Europe to become a member of this global alliance, meaning we formally pledge to donate 1% of Dry Gin sales to our partner charity, the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust. We don’t need to tell you how important trees are, but we’re able to plant one square meter of native woodland in and around the beautiful Yorkshire Dales National Park with every bottle of gin sold. In fact, we go beyond our annual commitment, donating 2.5% to help YDMT make a positive impact in the local community. We don’t do all the planting ourselves, but here’s picture proof of a soggy day spent planting some earlier this year. So far we’ve planted 1200 square meters of woodland, and still counting!
As well as helping to reforest some of England’s most beautiful landscapes, we’ve planted our own on-site orchard too. Not only will this provide us with fresh fruit for seasonal batches of liqueurs and healthy snacks for hungry workers, it also bolsters the site’s biodiversity, supports pollinators, reduces our carbon footprint, and helps to mitigate flood risks.
Fight the Power
The distillery is powered by Britain’s greenest energy company, Ecotricity. This means that 100% of the electricity we use is guaranteed to be from renewable sources such as wind, sun and sea. This costs us more than non-renewable energy, but it massively reduces the environmental impact of our operations, supports Britain’s energy independence, and reduces reliance on fossil fuels. Long term, we’re planning to move to solar power in an effort to become completely energy-independent.
Location, Location, Location
Buying local saves money, reduces transport, and supports other local and independent businesses. We’re lucky to have some fantastic producers nearby and make use of them wherever we can.
The lavender in the gin, barley and casks for the whisky, and the bottle packaging (to name just a few) are all sourced from in and around Yorkshire. Even better, we’re proud to announce that the silky-smooth wheat spirit used as the base for the gin is now sourced locally too. Made in Yorkshire from a mix of Yorkshire and British wheat, it saves hundreds of transport miles and vastly reduces our carbon footprint.
Buying from other responsible businesses who share our values is important too. Whether they adopt paperless systems, support charities, work in the community, or manufacture responsibly, the positive effect is magnified and it’s a more wholesome way of doing business. Our new favourite company is Who Gives A Crap. Shocked to discover that most loo roll is made from virgin trees, we swiftly swapped to 100% recycled paper from these guys. The distillery is stocked with a mountain of their humorous loo roll and 50% of their profits are spent building toilets for those in need. #feelgoodtoiletpaper
Mulch Ado About Nothing
Making gin produces waste, there’s no way around that. But we can control what happens to that waste. After extracting all the flavour from the botanicals by maceration and distillation, they go into Abbie’s pride and joy, also known as her compost bin. As well as smelling absurdly good (honestly; next time you visit ask to have a sniff, it’s like an earthy G&T), we recycle nutrients that would otherwise go to landfill, providing us with plenty of compost for our orchard, own-grown botanicals such as lavender and lemongrass (for special limited batches), and all the beautiful plants in and around the distillery.
Alright, we may bang on about bees quite a bit (see our recent blog), but there’s good reason for it. By keeping our own hives we’re supporting a dwindling pollinator population. All the honey which goes into our gin is produced on-site – no air miles here, just the energy it takes to push a wheelbarrow. This also means we know that the hives are kept to the highest possible standard, and that we’re looking after local pollinators, which in turns looks after the biodiversity and agricultural industry around our area.
The Complete Package
Most premium spirits are packaged in thick glass bottles to give a quality feel, but you won’t find a heavy bottom on Cooper King. We use a lightweight alternative that weighs 300 grams less than the average heavyweight bottle. The upshot of this is threefold: less raw materials are dug up from the ground to make them, they are more efficient to transport (reduced carbon emissions) and cost less, meaning you pay for the gin inside, not for a heavy bottle.
If you’ve ordered gin from the online shop you’ll have received it packed snugly inside one of our clever origami-style shipping boxes. Sourced from a nearby box-maker and made from recycled-and-recyclable cardboard, the one-piece design eliminates the need for other packing materials such as bubble wrap, meaning no waste need go to landfill. Where we do use packing materials, it’s either shredded cardboard made from the off-cuts of our boxes, or 100% biodegradable potato starch pellets which can be composted at home. Or snacked on, if you’re feeling hungry (disclaimer – please don’t eat them!).
When it Rains it Pours
It can get pretty wet round our neck of the woods. Not that we mind – as well as the sound of rain on the distillery roof being incredibly relaxing, we have an extensive rainwater capture system. Six rainwater tanks nestled round the back of the distillery allow us to catch and store 6,000 litres of water, which we use to water our orchard, botanicals, and plants around the site.
We save water during distillation too. Not only does the cold gin distillation process use less energy compared to traditional hot distillation, but instead of relying on fresh water to supply the cooling system, we recycle coolant over and over in closed-loop system, saving over 500 litres of water per batch of gin. That’s a whopping 13 tonnes of fresh water a year and given the recent reports of the UK’s impending water crisis, is not to be sniffed at.
We didn’t start out knowing how to build a distillery. We’ve taught ourselves every step of the way, using knowledge borrowed from books, parents, founders, friends, the web and kind strangers. Recycling materials from the original stable block and other sources reduced our need for new raw materials and our DIY ethic means that we fix things ourselves, being resourceful and often imaginative.
What about You?
Part of being socially sustainable is engaging directly with customers like you. There’s always more ways to improve, but we think we’re off to a good start. So, if you have any feedback, suggestions, hints, or tips, let us know.
Have you found a clever use for your empty Cooper King Gin bottle? Inspire others to do the same! Take a picture, tag us in it (find our social handles at the bottom of the page) and use the hashtags #upcycleCKD #CooperKingGin.
And remember to…
REFILL > REUSE > RECYCLE!
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