Inspired by Blue Planet II and the growing anti-plastic movement around them, Lucy and Dave launched Battle Green last year to make eco-friendly products from cutlery kits to menstrual pads. The core idea is to create stuff that's useful, simple and sourced with a conscience.
Here Lucy shares with me the story behind Battle Green, created from their home in Snowdonia in Wales:
How did it begin?
Battle Green began in 2018, but it is something that my partner Dave and I have been thinking and talking about for a long time.
Like many people, we were feeling increasingly demoralised by the stream of reports on the negative environmental impact humans are having on the planet. It’s hard to believe there are more micro plastics in the oceans than stars in the Milky Way, or that around 100 million marine mammals die from plastic pollution each year.
As an individual, you can feel horribly helpless when faced with these facts, particularly when politicians and businesses generally seem slow to respond. But there’s power is small acts like ‘making your own’ or buying sustainable, and in the collective voice: Walkers said it would take them until 2025 to make their crisp packaging 100% recyclable, yet the public petition that followed led to Walkers establishing the first national crisp packet recycling programme.
Of course, there are a number of fantastic eco-minded businesses already out there, and we wanted to add to the momentum they are creating. It would be wonderful to reach a point when eco-friendly approaches and products are the norm.
What are your values and what’s your approach to sustainability?
Working on the basis that while recycling is good, reusing is better, we have tried to provide reusable packaging where possible – the shampoo bars, dental floss and tooth powder are all available as a refill only (so you can use your own container) or in a refillable tin or jar.
For other products such as the toothbrushes, produce bags and shopping bags, we use a simple recycled card sleeve. We post out orders using plastic free, recycled and recyclable materials only. We also upcycle unwanted corrugated card from a local business by shredding it for packing material.
In terms of the products themselves, we’ve put a lot of thought into what goes into them: the cosmetic products are all vegan friendly, cruelty free and use natural ingredients; the shopping and produce bags are made from organic cotton, and the reusable cotton rounds and menstrual pads from organic bamboo cotton.
Although it is early days for Battle Green, we knew we also wanted to think more widely about how the venture could be a small force for good. We’ve partnered with the One Tree Planted (www.onetreeplanted.org) project to plant one tree for each of our zero waste starter kits sold, and we are also members of the Surfers Against Sewage (www.sas.org.uk) 250 Club – a membership scheme for businesses to help support SAS’s work to clean up our beaches and seas.
What’s it like running your own business?
I really enjoy buying from independent shops because they often offer a personal touch that you don’t really get with big businesses. There’s more of a connection between buyers and small businesses, as the person you’re buying from is often making the product, creating the packaging, packing it up, running social media and making the trips to the post office too.
To be on the other end of that relationship is enjoyable. It’s lovely being able to create a custom order, include a handwritten message, the odd sample, or a plastic-free gift wrap service (with paper stamped by our own fair hands!). When you get a message from someone saying that they have received their order and are delighted with it, it really is a fantastic feeling… As is the thought that your products are out in the world, being put to good use.
How do you select the products in your shop? / What’s the process from idea to product?
The product has to be useful. By finding sustainable and reusable replacements for single use and plastic items that we use day in day out, you can imagine the real impact this can have over time.
We have thought carefully about the materials or ingredients that go into the products, and whether they are sustainable, natural and cruelty free. For example, bamboo is an amazing plant, the only one that can keep up with current human consumption rates, as it can grow up to three feet a day! Bamboo is also biodegradable, naturally antibacterial and requires no pesticides or chemicals to grow, making it the perfect material for our toothbrushes, cotton buds and cutlery sets.
We also wanted the products to be both beautiful and robust, but when they do eventually reach the end of their lifetime, the materials used mean that they can be safely composted, recycled or upcycled.
If you could choose, what would be your favourite product?
I’m really pleased that reusable menstrual pads and cups are included in the Battle Green range, as the volume of menstrual waste is staggering. Women typically use between 12,000 to 16,000 disposable products during their lifetime, and the pads can sit in landfill for up to 800 years! Despite this, you never see TV adverts for reusable menstrual products, it’s rare to see them in shops and supermarkets, and they are often treated as a bit of a joke.
This needs to change – as anyone who has made the switch will testify, it is a small but life changing moment when you realise not only how effective reusable products are, but also how much waste you’re cutting down on and how much money you’re saving!
We recently ran a Facebook giveaway for our reusable pads box and received quite a few messages from people who had never heard of such products, and were intrigued to try them out. This month, we’re launching a new zero waste period box in partnership with Binti (www.binti.co.uk) – a UK-based charity that helps provide disadvantaged women and girls with menstrual hygiene products. A pound from the sale of each box will be donated to Binti.
What advice would you give to someone looking to live more sustainably?
Picking up on my earlier point, a good place to start is to think about your everyday patterns of behaviour. By focusing on little rituals like brushing your teeth with a plastic brush, removing make up with cotton pads or getting a takeaway coffee, you start to see the environmental impact they can have. A simple swap for a sustainable or reusable alternative can start to undo that pattern.
Sharing your ideas and experiences with others will also help the movement to grow, whether this means following and engaging with zero waste and eco-friendly accounts on your favourite social media platform for daily inspiration, starting a blog, or trying out websites like www.meetup.com where you can join local groups of like-minded individuals, or even start your own!
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