Re­pur­pose School­bags not only re­cy­cle plas­tic waste but also fea­ture a so­lar panel.

Virgin Australia Voyeur - - LESSONS EARNT -

so­lar panel in the flap which, recharged af­ter a day of walk­ing, is a free light source to com­plete home­work. It helps un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren do more home­work and save money on can­dles.

Syd­ney’s Angie Lang from Maven Den­tal Group says her prac­tice is proud to cham­pion sev­eral en­vi­ron­men­tal ini­tia­tives, in­clud­ing chang­ing from plas­tic to pa­per cups for rins­ing, and of­fer­ing a re­cy­cling col­lec­tion sta­tion for tooth­paste tubes and tooth­brushes which get up­cy­cled into chil­dren’s out­door fur­ni­ture by Ter­raCy­cle. “Our pa­tients have been very en­thu­si­as­tic, en­gaged and sup­port­ive,” says Lang. “Our so­cial me­dia posts on the topic re­ceived the most likes and shares of any other that we’ve done.”

So­cial me­dia is a valu­able tool in the pos­i­tive mes­sag­ing plas­tic waste war­riors spread. En­vi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tist turned sus­tain­able swimwear de­signer Steph Gabriel says see­ing one of her OceanZen biki­nis in Bali was a turn­ing point.

“I was at a se­cluded beach in Bali and ran into a girl from a small town in the UK wear­ing my biki­nis. I asked her how she

found out about OceanZen and she was a fol­lower on our In­sta­gram ac­count. It was a sur­real mo­ment.” Gabriel started the com­pany in 2014 with $5000 and dreams of in­spir­ing cus­tomers to live sus­tain­ably. The com­pany uses cleaned and shred­ded ma­rine de­bris, which is turned into a very fine yarn, mixed with Ly­cra, and made into stretchy swimwear. It costs more than stan­dard Ly­cra be­cause of the re­gen­er­a­tion process, but Gabriel says cus­tomers are happy to pay the pre­mium to sup­port her ven­ture.

“Mil­len­nial con­sumers es­pe­cially are be­com­ing more con­scious about their en­vi­ron­men­tal foot­print and I have had a re­ally pos­i­tive re­sponse from peo­ple when they get to ex­pe­ri­ence what the fab­ric feels like,” she says. “It truly is mind blow­ing that a ma­te­rial so soft is made from ma­rine de­bris and it’s ex­cit­ing to see tech­nol­ogy chang­ing our habits and help­ing to save our oceans,” she says.

At the po­lit­i­cal and cor­po­rate end, mo­men­tum for change is build­ing, too: even Buck­ing­ham Palace has banned the use of plas­tic straws. Scot­land plans

to ban straws by the end of 2019 and will also out­law plas­tic cot­ton buds. Free wa­ter re­fill points will be avail­able in ev­ery ma­jor town and city in Eng­land by 2021 to re­duce the re­liance on plas­tic bot­tles. Hun­gry Jack’s, McDon­ald’s, IKEA, Adi­das, Coca-Cola and Evian are among the cor­po­rate gi­ants mak­ing plas­tic waste re­duc­tion com­mit­ments, thanks to height­ened pub­lic aware­ness of the is­sue.

Here, Coles and Wool­worths are buy­ing back the to­tal weight of plas­tic they pro­duce in the form of fur­ni­ture. Mark Ja­cob­sen, mar­ket­ing man­ager for re­cy­cled plas­tic man­u­fac­turer Re­plas, says each store in Aus­tralia now has at least one bench seat at check­outs cre­ated from sin­gle-use bags. The re­tail gi­ants are also do­nat­ing the seats to schools.

“We take all the bad at­tributes of plas­tic and turn it into a re­ally good prod­uct,” says Ja­cob­sen. “Re­cy­cled plas­tic is ro­bust, low main­te­nance, light and it won’t crack or need paint­ing. We have wharves and jet­ties in sunken salt­wa­ter in Mel­bourne made out of plas­tic and they’re out­last­ing tim­ber.”

But for all the smart so­lu­tions, Dar­ren Lom­man says a more com­pre­hen­sive ap­proach is es­sen­tial for change.

“Peo­ple like to blame one par­tic­u­lar in­dus­try for the plas­tic prob­lem, whether it’s the bev­er­age in­dus­try, or super­mar­kets — I think it’s a re­ally stupid strat­egy,” he says. “Ev­ery­one is in­volved in this, right from the petroleum com­pa­nies to trans­port, to shops, to coun­cils, to con­sumers. Re­cy­cling is not one per­son’s prob­lem.”

Re­cy­cled plas­tic is ro­bust, low main­te­nance, light and it won’t crack or need paint­ing.

CLOCK­WISE FROM BE­LOW LEFT San­dals made from re­cy­cled rub­ber; chil­dren with Re­pur­pose School­bags; Rea Ng­wane and Thato Kgatl­hanye.

CLOCK­WISE FROM TOP OceanZen founder Steph Gabriel; King­fisher Seat from Re­plas; OceanZen biki­nis are made from re­cy­cled ma­rine de­bris.

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