Single-use plastic. It’s a really big problem. We hear about it in the news. We read about it. We see it in the documentaries we watch on Sunday evenings, our bellies filled with roast dinner. And sometimes, it feels like we’re being bombarded by a never-ending sequence of our oceans. All clogged up with plastic waste. And it’s easy to feel a bit helpless about the whole thing. Like it’s too big. Too unfixable. Like no-one is doing anything about it.
Luckily, someone is doing something about it. And our friends at the Plastic Bank are one of those someones. And we’re super-proud to be working with them to help offset London’s plastic footprint. One smart bag at a time.
Who are the Plastic Bank?
Based in Canada, the Plastic Bank are an incredible social enterprise who are on a mission to stop ocean-bound plastic. How? By incentivising people living in the poorest communities in Indonesia, the Philippines and Haiti, to collect and drop off plastic at one of their 165 waste collection centres, or ‘banks’. And as well as earning a fair living wage, these people (over 4,300 of them) can exchange collected plastic for cash or other useful things. Like healthcare. Or school tuition. Or whatever it is that their community in particular needs.
Nice, but why do they focus on ocean-bound plastic?
David Katz, founder and CEO of the Plastic Bank, says that cleaning the ocean is the very last thing we need to do when it comes to addressing the plastic problem. And that’s despite the fact that a staggering 8 million tonnes of plastic are dumped into our seas every year. As he puts it:
“80% of ocean plastic is coming from those countries that have extreme poverty,” he explains. “And if you live in the grips of poverty concerned, always, about food or shelter or a sense of security [then] recycling is beyond your realm of imagination.”
David Katz (Founder & CEO – Plastic Bank)
So by getting people to collect plastic waste before it leaks into the ocean, the Plastic Bank is able to cut off the problem at its source. Pretty clever, right?
So, what do they do with all that plastic?
The Plastic Bank turn all recyclable plastic into something called Social Plastic®. And as well as directly supporting 14 of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, this stuff can be bought by companies from all around the world to make shiny new products, from shampoo bottles to umbrellas.
Excellent stuff. But what about offsetting my plastic footprint?
When brands pay to advertise their campaigns on our smart bags, some of that money is reserved for our planet-saving initiatives. So every time you go on a smart bag journey (and log it on the app, of course), you unlock that money. And we send it directly to the Plastic Bank.
That means, the more you reuse your smart bag, the more money you’ll unlock. And the more we can contribute to the Plastic Bank’s mission to stopping plastic waste entering our oceans.
Not bad for carrying around a paper bag around, right?