Nearly two years ago my partner Dan and I were backpacking around the world. We’d “quit the nine to five”, we lived in a van and had managed to see nine different countries over fifteen months. Being fully honest, at this point sustainability was not on our radar. As a minimum we filled up our bottles where possible, recycled, tried to buy fruit and veg loose, but it was a drop in the ocean in comparison to the world we discovered.
Just before our fly home date we encountered a dead whale. It had washed up on the beach down the road from our apartment after ingesting plastic and surrounding it were hundreds more pieces of plastic. This was only a couple of days after the weekly beach clean on the island.
I should caveat this blog post with the fact that neither of us have a background in sustainability or conservation. Dan is a personal trainer turned full time postman and I worked in Communications and Events (for Earth Optimism 2020 – a nice closed loop there!). But that encounter in Asia changed everything for us.
As soon as the wheels touched the runway on home soil we were straight down the rabbit-hole of sustainability and the ‘zero waste’ movement. How can we overhaul our lives to be more conscious and eco-friendly? Questions that more and more people want the answers to nowadays, including average Joes like us.
At first, it honestly seemed a little overwhelming. Social media has a habit of making everything look perfect and if you’re not doing exactly how the influencers are, then you’re failing. So we decided to start with what was in our control,
- Our diet
- Our home
- Our consumer habits
The overall aim was to become plastic-free in a year by using up everything we had (sustainability rule number one) then finding suitable sustainable alternatives. On one of these occasions, we received an eco-friendly product wrapped in plastic.
It’s no secret that large scale companies are using “greenwashing” to fuel consumerism. Greenwashing is “disinformation disseminated by an organisation so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.” – Google Dictionary. In other words, corporations using clever marketing to make it seem like something is good for the planet, when actually it can have the complete opposite effect.
We wanted to take our aims a step further and do better than plastic packaging. To provide helpful alternatives, putting planet over profit and making this lifestyle accessible for everyone.
Since launching our online store in November 2019, we’ve planted over 1,000 trees with our partners TreeApp in their multiple locations around the world. In July 2020 we kicked it up a notch and opened a mobile refill van, topping up customer’s household essentials like washing-up liquid, shampoo and laundry powder. Since the refill van started we’ve saved nearly 5,000 plastic bottles (500ml) ending up in landfill or the ocean.
We’re just one small shop out of thousands across the UK and the impact the movement is having in this country and across the world is growing. Have a quick search for your local zero waste shop or refill station to shop local and consciously. As Anne-Marie Bonnaeu said:
“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”