Thanks for visiting our store. I'm Brenda, the founder of Mint Eco.
I was born in Zimbabwe and spent my childhood in Southern Africa. After leaving school, I backpacked for five years, stopping to work in Israel, Europe and the UK along the way. In 1995, I immigrated to Australia to follow an Aussie man I met on ski slopes and now live in sunny Perth.
Like many people, I've become increasingly aware of how our access to single-use ‘convenience’ products is shifting us into becoming a throw-away society. My journey into living a low-waste lifestyle started in 2009 when I founded JuJu, a reusable period care brand and MintEco was born some 10 years later after a trip to Thailand.
At dawn, I'd take a walk along the beach and at dusk, I'd bask in the last rays of the sun on the shore as I watched the sunset. Every day, without fail, I'd watch plastic rubbish wash up along the high tide mark. Day after day after day, tide after tide.
In some of the more densely populated tourist areas, paid locals came down to the high tide mark to clear away the plastics carried in by the tide. The waste was packed into black garbage bags, which were taken up to the nearest road for collection. Plastic garbage bags, filled with more plastic, lined the roads along the beaches spaced only a handful of metres apart. It was quite simply heartbreaking!
Seeing this, I couldn't help but reflect on how I may have contributed to this waste; buying bottled water, accepting welcome drinks in plastic cups and forgetting to ask for drinks to be served without straws. Over the holiday an overwhelming sense of despair sat with me. Every day I saw how we were quite literally choking our oceans with single-use plastics!
I questioned: what can I do to clean up our oceans? I collected a few pieces of single-use plastic and couldn't help but feel I was just shifting the problem. What happens to all those black garbage bags filled with plastics when they are thrown away?
I researched the lifecycle of plastics and the statistics were alarming; 40% of plastics produced are used just once, then discarded. Worldwide, only 9% of plastics are recycled with Australia only doing marginally better at 12%. Some of the main offenders include plastic bags, straws and plastic bottles with nearly 1 million plastic drink bottles being sold every minute. If incorrectly disposed of, many of these will end up in our waterways, oceans and landfill where a bottle takes between 450 and 1,000 years to break down. And, even if correctly disposed of, "recycling" of plastics in many countries involves shipping it to other countries where it is burnt, releasing toxic fumes into the air of poorer nations. The production, consumptions and recycling of plastics are not only harming our environment but also harming our health. Ultimately, there is no "away" when we throw something away; everything has a lifecycle, it goes somewhere, it has an afterlife.
As I began to boil water in my hotel room at night to drink the next day (rather than buying bottled water) I thought about what else I could do. I generally consider myself to be a fairly conscientious consumer; I carry a reusable drink bottle, coffee cup and shopping bags with me. I don't buy many single-use plastic products per se but when I looked at what I did purchase in stores, almost everything I bought was packaged in single-use plastic. Even many of the "eco-friendly" purchases I made were wrapped in plastic.
There is always the argument that it's up to big business to do their part in decreasing the overuse of plastics and find alternatives but the reality is, as long as we as consumers continue to buy plastic products and products packaged in plastics, manufacturers will continue to produce them. Let's face it, plastic is a pretty good product; it's light, durable and inexpensive but leaves a devastating effect on our environment.
I believe the change needs to start with each one of us. Collectively, every small change each of us makes has a big impact. We need to support businesses and manufacturers who are choosing to produce ethical and sustainable products and when we purchase these products, we are voting with our consumer dollar. We are advocating for their brand and their practices. When we choose ethically made products, we encourage ethical industry to growth. And when we choose reusables, we significantly reduce our waste and our need for repeated purchases.
Finding sustainable, reusable or compostable products (which are responsibly packaging) isn't always easy. A month after returning from my trip to Thailand, I launched Mint Eco - a one-stop shop for plastic-free alternatives. You can read more about our products, packaging and warehouse on the about us page.
Be the change we want to see and join me on the journey to living a more sustainable lifestyle.