Hi, my name is Danni Carr... I am a mother of two girls, a wife of a musician, a musician myself and the owner and founder of Earth Bottles.
As a family unit and because of my hubbie’s job and his obsession with surfing we have found ourselves travelling to many countries, many beaches and many beautiful places. So beautiful these places yet so disturbingly brimming with plastic bottles, plastic bags, plastic waste and all kinds of litter. I guess like anyone I carried on about my holidays bought five bottles of water per day and returned to my home in Australia and would forget about it. It did start to nag about me though, this mindless consumption that we partake in daily and I wondered how we could start to change our habits as a family.
We have always been a fairly conscientious family, Ash being a major spoke person against Coal Seam Gas Mining and being around circles of friends and like minded people in the Byron Shire hoping to affect some change. We often talked at home about the carbon footprint created in the music industry (the flights, the cars, the lights, and of course slabs of plastic water bottles given to the band “rider” and bought by thirsty punters at the end of the night) and what we could do to cut that down. It wasn’t enough to sing about change we wanted to help people make choices in their every day life to make a change. So after much research and stumbling upon a very cool looking water bottle in Canada we bought 200 of the best water bottles with a timber finish (to suit Ash’s vibe) we could find. We put them on Ash’s Facebook and we sold those 200 bottles overnight. Wowsers.. so we did it again.. and again and again.
Eventually this lead me to order more bottles for other bands and eventually decide to bring about my own brand and Earth Bottles was born. Four years down the track and that initial order of 200 bottles has lead to Earth Bottles ordering over 100,000 units, designing our own reusable coffee cups and many other reusable plastic free options for our customers.
Along with the help of our awesome sales manager Briody we have helped spread the word to thousands of Australians and International customers. The best part about all this though is the incredibly inspirational people we have met along the way and continue to meet each day. People that are so passionate about our environment that they risk their life, forfeit their own income to spread this message about plastic pollution.
Plastic is literally choking our oceans and waterways. It is killing our marine life and as a result finding it’s way back in to our bloodstreams through the fish we eat. Every piece of plastic that has ever been will always be and breaks up (not down) in to micro plastics that is filling up our oceans on a daily basis. This is one of the greatest threats to our environment that we have ever and will ever face however, it is something that we can all help to change by the small choices we make daily.
On July 1st Earth Bottles will launch a campaign for individuals to “break up with plastic” or to pledge to go plastic free.
With this blog I will ask 5 questions to some of the amazing people we met and to keep people updated on what is happening out there to make positive changes. With hints to help them “break up with plastic”. This blog is about educating, learning and sharing ideas and thoughts.
As I type this I am watching on netflix “A Plastic Ocean” I can’t stress enough how much families need to watch this film and educate their kids on this catastrophic issue.
So the first person I would like to introduce to you is the wonderful Paul Hellier. Paul is the founder of the Ap Fair Food Forager he is spearheading a campaign called Peloton For Plastic. From June 17, 2018, Paul Hellier and Jamie Lepre will ride from Hanoi to Bangkok for the “Peloton for Plastic”. Inviting people to join and ride for an hour, or a day and talk about single use plastic and how we can solve the issue.
Along the way they will film the beautiful scenery and must see tourist destinations of Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. They will meet organisations / volunteer groups (above), individuals and small businesses passionate about reducing the negative impacts of single use plastic in SE Asia.They will volunteer in plastic cleanups and talk to anyone who wants to tell the world about how we can lesson its impacts.
Paul can you tell us a little bit about the path that lead you here to organise the Peloton Against Plastic?
I’ve been cleaning my local beach on the South Coast of NSW for at least 15 years, and thinking about the issue of plastic for just as long.
After fair food forager was created and underway. I had decided to fund my life, of running a startup and working full time on it by renting my house and living minimally. Eventually leaving my secure and paying career, SE Asia seemed a nice option. Good food, weather, people and affordable living. Unlike all previous visits to Asia in the nineties and naughties, seeing so much plastic while living there wasn’t just upsetting it was devastating. Immersed in the culture and the lifestyle I could see the issue, the system and maybe some solutions. No longer passing through and simply blaming the locals for not caring, I could see it was the low cost, ease, lack of education, lack of facilities and the volume of people, all contributing.
Then in 2017 when dealing with a few personal issues, I purchased a mountain bike on the side of the road in southern Thailand and started riding. 1500kms later, 120kms or so a day and 3 countries ridden, I wished I had of documented the ride a little better. It occurred to me that people could gain a lot from what I had seen and we could show the world that people in SE Asia are just like us. They don’t like plastic either and many of them are working like we are, to fix it.
Importantly, as travellers, we have a responsibility to respect the locals, their culture and the environment and do our best to not make things worse while on holiday. So I asked Jamie if he wanted to come on a ride, through a friend I spoke with Intrepid Travel, and. Here we are.
Where do you place the plastic pollution issue on the hierarchy of global issues?
Environmentally, plastic pollution is right up there with climate change and species loss, as something that we have to reverse. In many ways its very similar, all issues have many complex outcomes and chain reactions and all require huge action by governments and corporations. Though importantly they also require us as individuals to make a lot of small and simple daily choices that will really help the situation.
We’ve all seen the footage of plastic floating around a scuba diver, the dozens of plastic fragments in a dead seabirds stomach and injuries, death and deformations caused to wildlife at the hands of some form of plastic. If all of that wasn’t upsetting enough, what if we discovered that plants are potentially cycling plastic through their cells? That babies can be born with traces of plastic in their system? That more plastic than plankton or fish could be a reality soon and cause massive chain reactions in the ocean that can have catastrophic
effects on the planet and to humans?
What would you say to people who say “its fine its going to recycling”?
With China now turning away millions of tonnes of plastic “recycling” from the world, our recycling system is not in very good shape. Most things that can be recycled are actually down cycled anyway so we aren’t producing the same thing again, so more bottles, bags and straws are made again from virgin fossil fuels.
While your single use plastic product is sometimes made into a children’s chair or milk crate and that’s ‘ok’. It isn’t the solution.
We are the only species to create products that are inorganic, use them for 5 mins and throw them away. Mining, refining, transporting and manufacturing a product from a resource to create something that wont go away and we only used it for 5mins. That’s madness!
Think about that for a minute. The whole process is a burden on the planet though part of being alive is in some form a burden on the planet. The key is “single use”. We need to get away from single use and go back to how our grandparents lived. Reuse, repair and avoid things that are just, WASTE.
What tips can you give to families or individuals to go plastic free?
Some items of plastic are a little harder to avoid than others and take some thought and effort. Though many single use plastic items can be cut out of your life without any real effort at all.
Straws aren’t needed, unless you have a broken jaw and in those cases or like drinking from a coconut or drink full of ice, get a reusable option.
Bottled water costs more than petrol, is basically a scam designed to empty your wallet and we all know that, so get a reusable bottle and refill.
Take a backpack or reusable shopping bag when getting groceries.
Find a bulk foods supplier and take you own jars and containers for nuts, rice, seeds, honey, dried beans, and pasta etc.
Say no to packaged fruit and vegetables, they come in their own skin so just refuse to support that madness.
Reduce your single use plastic and compost your food scraps and you’ll no longer need a bin liner, because you wont have any rubbish.
MOST of all the best tip I can give is - Relax, have fun and enjoy! Do one thing at a time, create a habit, then add another and another. Make small habits stick. It might even make other parts of your life easier because you won’t be stressing the little things.
How do you see this problem being resolved and do you see it as resolvable?
Ideally governments across the globe would start banning ridiculous single use plastics like straws, balloons,styrofoam food packaging and over packaging in general. And I do think this is going to happen. The cost environmentally and economically is too high to let it go on.
Many are afraid of bans, but the fact is we humans are really good at adjusting, and within a few months we would hardly remember ever having access to silly single use plastic items. Large scale change could also be achieved by taxing single use plastics and incentivising alternatives. Many businesses complain about the change being too hard because of the cost of reusable or naturally
compostable alternatives (that is breakdown in light, water or a backyard compost). This would level out the cost and encourage business to go plastic free.
I dont think we should ever forget the impact we have as individuals and the power of our spending. Enough of us making these little daily choices impacts big business and decision makers. You doing the right thing rubs off on your peers, who influence those close to them and so on.
Be the change you want to see in the world, set the example, you aren’t perfect and no one said you had to be. Just give it a try and we will win this. We have to.
Paul Hellier - fair food forager
For more about Paul Hellier visit the Fair Food Forager and grab the App so you can eat ethically anywhere in the world.