It is almost impossible not to have heard about the environmental issues associated with plastic.
David Attenborough’s documentary ‘Blue Planet’ is perhaps one of the driving forces behind this increased awareness. Despite this, most of us do little to reduce our use of plastics. We continue to buy fizzy drinks when out and about, and don’t think twice about stocking our fridge with plastic yogurts and fruit wrapped in cellophane. Thankfully, a group of likeminded people in Leeds decided to fight back. The group, frustrated by the plastic crisis and shocked by the devastation that plastic usage has on animals and the environment, teamed up and set up EcoVibe, an environmentally conscious business based in Leeds.
Earlier this week I spoke to a few members of the EcoVibe team to hear about their business journey and their goals for the future. We met atWizu, one of Leeds’ co-working spaces just by Kirkgate Market, and spent an hour deep in conversation.
The creation of EcoVibe
Although the team behind EcoVibe wanted to remove all plastic from the planet, they appreciate that in today’s fast-paced, uber convenient world, removing plastic would be a challenge. They explained that just because it would be hard, they wanted to do something to at least try to reduce plastic usage. To get the ball rolling, the team, who have diverse skills sets including graphic design, business operations and marketing, set up an online platform to sell plastic-free products in the UK. Think eco-friendly Amazon.
Early product lines
Talk turned to products. The team explained that there are way too many products that masqueraded as being free from plastic, with labels such as ‘made from biodegradable materials’. These products mislead eco-conscious consumers into purchasing them, but do little to reduce the plastic crisis. The EcoVibe team wanted to ensure that their products would not add to this list, but instead would be truly plastic-free.
The team did a great deal of research and identified products that could make a real impact on reducing plastic usages. The first product developed and sold by EcoVibe was a line of plastic-free dog poo bags. Soon after the launch of the bags, more and more products were developed, sourced and sold by the eco-friendly company.
At the start, new products were found by ‘searching on the 10th page of Google’ but now that EcoVibe are better known, companies and individuals selling sustainable products come to them. EcoVibe now stock and sell over 500 products on their website. These products are all plastic free and range from reusable make-up wipes to corn starch bin bags and bamboo toilet rolls. A common theme across the products is that they are all items that people need. This was essential to the team, who revealed as we chatted that they want people to purchase their products as plastic-free alternatives, rather than buying them for the sake of it. They do not want their items to ‘add to the pile of waste and packaging’.
In addition to selling plastic free products, EcoVibe are also conscious about the way in which they source and deliver their products. Each item is vetted by at least one member of the team for its plastic-free credentials. Then, when the product makes it to the website, products are delivered in the most sustainable way possible – keeping delivery distances short by distributing business to business and using sustainable packaging. I loved hearing about the packaging peanuts which can be dissolved in water and used to feed house plants. I laughed when the team told me about the complaints from customers in the early days who had thought that the peanuts were plastic! Now, to prevent any confusion, a note is placed in every package to explain how to ‘use’ the peanuts, and they are now loved by all customers, especially children!
In addition to selling useful products online, EcoVibe are also involved in making a difference in the community. As well as doing frequent litter picks to reduce plastic waste in Leeds, the team also engage with volunteering activities. They told me about some work that they undertook with Hollybush Conservation Centre, which saw the team create a garden at a school in Bradford. Although the weather was awful, and the work was hard, they love how much of a difference the garden has since made to the children and how important it is to them to give back to the community.
Plans for the future
EcoVibe has gone from strength to strength, but this wasn’t always the case. Initially, progress was slow and every day was a school day for the Leeds based business. But, through teamwork and listening to advice, they have built a business that is succeeding in today’s tricky buying and selling world.
I chatted to them about their plans for the future. They described their ideas for new product lines, including books and chemical-free items. They also chatted about the educational activities that are in the pipeline. I was particularly excited to hear about plans for spreading the plastic-free message in schools, as children could be real game-changers in the battle against plastic. The team are also looking to expand to more countries but are doing so slowly so that they have time to develop warehouses to reduce the carbon footprint from product distributions.
Plastic-free in Leeds
If you’re keen to reduce your plastic usage, why not check out EcoVibe and see what everyday items you could purchase. Their website and associated social media platforms also have lots of useful information that you could use to kick start your plastic-free journey. What is more, if you want to check out the products in person, then (once we are once more able to mingle) you can also find EcoVibe products in some of Leeds’ most loved eco-friendly shops including The Jar Tree and Ecotopia.
If you have a sustainable product that you want to sell, or if you are a company that wants to stock sustainable products from EcoVibe, then you too can get involved in the plastic-free movement. Simply contact EcoVibe to get the conversation started.
Feature photograph provided by EcoVibe shows the EcoVibe Team, including Founders: 2nd left Amy, 3rd left Gabs, 6th Becky and 7th Anya.