Why an Eco company? Why now?
If you had told me ten years ago that my wife would have started an eco-company, aimed at building a more sustainable world, I wouldn’t have believed it.
It’s not that I didn’t care about the environment, it’s that I didn’t think about it.
When I was teaching Politics in a school in South-East London, we were looking at minority political beliefs and Ecologism was one of the areas that we researched for the students’ A-Levels. The kids thought it was hilarious, and the majority of the ideas were dismissed as ‘hippy rubbish’ and its supporters as ‘tree huggers’.
Teaching any ideology in politics, I always strived to be impartial, or to act as devil’s advocate and counter whatever my students where stubbornly refusing to accept. “You don’t have to agree with anyone, you just need to understand so you can counter it.” There was still much that we spoke about that was beyond my world view at the time, but looking at some of the different arguments certainly made me more aware of my personal impact on the world. Recycling increased. I tried to stop waste.
A lot of people were switched on to the anti-plastic movement by David Attenborough’s Blue Planet, and we discussed how the Royal Family are starting to set an example in the UK by becoming more environmentally friendly in our previous blog. In our next blog we will look at some other eco-influencers, and how individuals and businesses are starting to make a difference.
For my wife and I it was different. We moved to Thailand for my work.
Thailand is still one of my favourite countries in the world. The people are friendly, the weather is always good, and the scenery is amongst the most beautiful of anywhere I have ever been. It’s also one of the top five plastic polluters in the world. Before I started work we went on a holiday, and the impact was apparent as soon as we went to what we thought would be a deserted idyll of a beach. It was deserted, but the impact of tourists and the locals was evident. Plastic bottle after plastic bottle washed up on the shore.
The longer that we spent in the country the more we noticed. Every drink we bought from the convenience store was wrapped in plastic, often with a plastic straw. The annoying thing was that because we didn’t feel the water was safe to drink, we needed to buy bottled water in disposable bottles. The more waste that we produced, the more aware we became.
Within a couple of months we had worked out how to get around the bottled water problem. A water dispenser in the corner of our apartment, and if we are away we used the many street side water filter machines. We now have a rather nifty collection of tote bags (as well as the beautiful new net bags that Kat has launched on the website here). We never go anywhere without a metal straw, and clean them after we’ve used them by having a big sip of water from our reusable bottles.
When we went back to the UK we found that the plastic bag surcharge was coming in and our behaviour continued in that manner. I’ve spoken here about how we turned things that we wanted to do into habits, and some of the ridiculous situations I’ve created for myself now that I won’t take a plastic bag.
When Kat said to me that she was thinking about setting up Kalleco, it made perfect sense. We’d already made sustainable living a part of our life, and helping others who wanted to do the same do so more easily was something that we wish we had when we were setting out along this path. Straws made perfect sense as a first product, because they make up such a large percentage of ocean waste, and they are so portable which means it’s an easy change to make (that and Kat loves a smoothie or more likely, a cocktail)! The new bags are amazing and keep your eyes peeled on our Instagram as we have lots more great ideas for products to make living your sustainable life easier (coming soon)…
I no longer think of wanting to live an ecologically sustainable life as a minority interest, and that isn’t just because we are so mentally invested in it. When I speak with my students now, they don’t dismiss these ideas as extreme. They want to know more. I help students with university applications and I see so many who are looking to study business, or economics, or chemistry, but with a view to reducing plastic waste and the environmental damage that is being done to the world. It may be just anecdotal, but the next generation is really looking to make a change.
When you add it all together it’s starting to look more positive. As well as the kids at my school, many of my friends are also making changes to live more sustainable lives, and my parents and in-laws are doing the same, as are their friends. The things that we do affect the world that we live in and that is the same regardless of age.
I thought I’d share how I came to be interested in the environment. It wasn’t a eureka moment, it was a gradual process, and I feel like I’m still learning and developing. Every time Kat has a new product idea I realise that it’s something I haven’t even thought of (she’s my inspiration!), and increasing my mindfulness of the environment is one of the big changes that I have made. We said when we started the company that we don’t want to preach, as I know that can put people off, but I do hope that I’ve given you something to think about. With little steps we can all make a contribution to improving the world in the future.