SINGLE USE PLASTIC OUT. MOST PEOPLE WOULD AGREE THAT’S A GOOD IDEA. BUT WHERE TO START? HOW ABOUT IN HIGHGATE...
WHERE DOES SUPO COME INTO IT?
SUPO (Single Use Plastic Out) is a startup from Highgate/London/Planet Earth aiming to make a big dent in the plastic waste crisis. We are launching our first product – a refill system for the bathroom – later this year. ‘Think local’ is one of our principles. So we teamed up with Highgate Vet (and the incredibly creative Helen Rapley) who created the window display featured in the photos on this page. To go with the window we put up this web page. It’s here to share some of our research. And point to some great solutions right here on our doorstep.
KEEP BETTER COMPANY
59 billion items of single use plastic go through UK supermarkets every year. Plastic packaging is mainly there to market branded goods. You dont see much plastic in Greens of Highgate, or The Highgate Butchers. Still want to shop at a supermarket? Try our local Budgen stores with their plastic free aisle. Or Iceland who came top of the supermarkets in a recent Greenpeace study. Iceland are pledged to be (own label) single use plastic free by 2023. And even launched a plastic free chewing gum. Nice.
Who needs plastic packaging when you can buy goods naked? Cath Conway founded Unpackaged in 2007 in Islington. An innovative refill shop where you brought your own packaging. These days unpackaged creates systems for Lush, Planet Organic and others. There is an Unpackaged station at three Planet Organic stores just up the road. Cath actually started out in markets. And most farmers markets (like the fabulous local one at Parliament Hill Fields) operate on similar lines.
THINK BEFORE YOU FLUSH
Remember the news about the Fatberg blocking up London’s sewers? Turns out that (according to Friends of the Earth) these blockages “only contain a small percentage of fat. Fatbergs are in fact up to 90% wet wipes.” Some wetwipes that didnt get stuck found their way into the Thames where according to researchers they were “starting to form a new riverbed”. One obvious answer is to stop using wetwipes. Our ancestors managed without them for 2 million years. Or at least dont flush them down the loo. That goes for tampons and pads which can be up to 90% plastic (not even counting wrappers and applicators). There are plenty of eco alternatives. Nappies too. Spice Girl Emma Bunton founded Kit & Kin whose nappies biodegrade in 3-6 years. Whereas mainstream brands take 500 years. Which kind of stinks.
BE TRENDY. GO WOOLLY
What’s the coolest eco brand in the world at the moment? The answer is probably Allbirds. The world’s most comfy trainers made from wool and other eco materials rather than synthetics. Founded by a nice Kiwi bloke called Tom Brown, Allbirds were recently valued at $1 billion. And attracted customers like Leonardo DiCaprio, Obama and Oprah. Tom developed the idea when a business student in London. And the brand returned to its roots last autumn opening at 123 Long Acre, Covent Garden.
THEY’RE PLASTIC. WHO KNEW?
One of the more shocking examples of hidden plastic is tea bags. Often thrown in food waste and composting, it turns out most tea bags contained plastic. Public protests led to promises from brands like PGTips and Clipper to ditch the polypropylene. While on drinks, carrying a KeepCup and a refillable water bottle can seriously reduce your plastic footprint. Lovely designs are available from Atlas & Ortus (who also do sandwich wrappers and all sorts of good stuff). Or at least check out our local Gail’s Bakery who have introduced fully biodegradable cups.
MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME
Plastic waste goes hand in hand with fast moving consumer goods. But there are also some fantastic eco challengers coming from this same industry. Splosh makes household cleaning products that you mix yourself from concentrate. Their ecommerce and returnable refill model makes for 97.5% less plastic waste. Another fantastic delivery model is Haringey’s Crop Drop. There is a collection point right by Highgate Tube. It’s a local business run by people who are passionate about food. If that describes you too they are always looking for volunteers.
CHECK YOUR MOBILE
Electronic Waste or ewaste is another huge source of plastic in landfill. And a tremendous waste of precious minerals. There is 60 times more gold per tonne in ewaste than there is in a goldmine. It doesn’t help that most people only use their mobile for around 18 months. And throw it in a drawer the moment it breaks. Check out Highgate’s Mr Dweeb. A friendly local family business (their original branch is in Muswell Hill) who are great at fixing phones, PCs and other digital kit. Which keeps them from landfill. Saving you money too. And while you are at it why not buy a phone that is actually designed to be repaired and with the environment in mind? Like the FairPhone “the world’s first ethical modular smart phone” designed to be continuously upgraded and kept in use.
It’s hard to save the planet on your own. Fortunately there are plenty of friendly local groups to get involved in. Like the Highgate Society who have an active Sustainable Living programme (their last big event was on electric cars). Or the Highgate Climate Action Network.
COMING SOON TO A BATH NEAR YOU
SOAP is what we aim to tackle with SUPO products.
Thanks for reading this far and WATCH THIS SPACE.
(Meanwhile the greenest approach is probably bar soaps and shampoos. Such as the vegan, natural, ethical and affordable range made by our friends at Friendly Soap).