Plastic Free July: WE-AR x Better Packaging
Friends of WE-AR and fellow Waiheke Islanders, Rebecca and Kate are the Co-Founders behind Better Packaging Co. Like so many meaningful innovations, Kate and Rebecca's inspiration to create a home compostable mailer bag was sparked by seeing the volume of waste generated by e-com whilst working together at Starshipit.
We sat down with the pair to chat sustainable business and asked them each to select an outfit from our collection.
WE-AR: Thank you so much for creating such an amazing brand that we needed in our lives - how did you come up with the idea?
BPC: Becs and I (Kate) both knew first hand what it's like when you receive an online purchase that you're super excited about, only to be left with a slightly bitter after-taste from all the packaging you're left to dispose of ... So when she co-founded a tech company called Starshipit in the eCommerce/shipping space and saw how quickly online sales were growing she also realised the repercussions in terms of epic amounts of packaging waste. Becs and I had met as new mums on Waiheke Island and when Starshipit needed some branding/comms help, Becs got me in to help. We found we made an awesome team; same values and work ethic, but really different (complementary!) skill sets. Then, when she had the idea to see if there was a more sustainable way to send eCommerce orders than a plastic poly mailer, she came to me and asked if I'd be keen to do it with her. I could immediately see the potential for impact and was in, boots and all!
WE-AR: What exactly is meant by the term circular economy when talking about packaging and how is Better Packaging Co. (BPC) achieving this?
BPC: As a society – especially in the western world - we tend to "take, make, waste". We take resources from the earth, make them into things that we consume and then they become waste in landfill when we're done with them. In a circular economy, resources are kept in use and don't become waste. For packaging, this means using resources that are renewable (like plants) or 'waste' and turning them into packaging that can be reused multiple times and/or recycled. There is no perfectly circular solution to packaging yet, but at BPCo. we are making steps in the right direction; we make packaging partly made from plants that will naturally biodegrade in a home compost. We make a reusable courier satchel that is designed to be used many, many times. And we now also make recyclable packaging out of plastic pollution – more on that below!
WE-AR: Are you and the team doing anything fun to raise awareness this Plastic Free July?
BPC: We already do a lot as a team to be #plasticfree, for example, we have a library of reusable coffee cups, drink bottles, shopping bags and takeaway containers in the office, but this month we're are doing a beach clean up as part of an offsite/team-building day and will probably make it a bit of a competition to liven things up!
WE-AR: What does sustainability mean for you guys?
BPC: Everything! Most importantly, sustainability is not a destination, it's a journey. It's not as if one day we're going to be able to tick a box and say, "Done, we are sustainable". Instead, it's about continually making positive changes – big and small – in a way that is practical and affordable. Because sustainability has to be sustainable. We hope that's how we help other businesses become more sustainable, by giving them accessible packaging alternatives that either make less negative impact on the planet or even make a great positive impact like our new POLLAST!C Range.
WE-AR: Anything innovate in the pipeline that you can share with our community?
BPC: Well, we've just launched POLLAST!C - it's a range of packaging made completely out of plastic pollution collected from beaches and waterways throughout South East Asia which is where most of the plastic enters our oceans from. We work (ethically and respectfully) with coastal communities in these regions to incentivise them to clean up plastic that's on its way to the ocean and then we recycle it into mailing satchels, garment bags, packing slip pouches and more. It also has a carbon footprint 75% smaller than traditional plastic, so it's pretty awesome.
WE-AR: Why is it important to you to wear clothes that are plastic free?BPC: Natural fibres always feel great and they breathe, they won't shed microplastics as they're washed... and they will also naturally biodegrade at end of life. I'll even put clothing that I know is 100% linen, cotton or wool into my compost. As well as food scraps, a healthy compost also needs carbon rich materials like dead leaves, grass clippings and natural fibres!