In honor of World Oceans Month, we’re highlighting some extraordinary young folks doing their very best to make a difference. Today on the blog, read on to learn more about how Ryan Hickman of Ryan’s Recycling Company is inspiring real environmental change to save our oceans, the planet, and give us all hope!
We believe that the greatest change agents in our society are those who see problems in the world, and innovate creative solutions as a remedy. For decades, we’ve known that plastic wreaks havoc on our planet and its wild life; however, we have still continued to mass produce plastic products and disposable plastic goods. In fact, it wasn’t until very recently that brands have begun innovating non-plastic solutions to every day items. Working ahead of her time, our friend, Kirsten Quigley, founder of LunchSkins has been a visionary leader of this movement. For the past 10 years, she has been working to reinvent how Americans carry their lunch by providing reusable and recyclable products. Today, we are privileged to chat with Kirsten on our blog about her incredible journey and about how LunchSkins is working to change the world, one lunch bag at a time.
Tell us a bit about LunchSkins.
It all started around our kitchen table in 2008. While raising my young family, I noticed how much waste we generated on a daily basis packing 20+ lunches a week and countless snacks on the go for classes, teams and camps. LunchSkins was born out of my need for a better, smarter and stylish alternative to disposable plastic baggies. There was nothing like it in the marketplace. From the beginning, I knew that whatever we created had to be easy, affordable and fun so people would make it part of their daily routine, and collectively have a much bigger positive impact on our environment. For the past ten years, we’ve been helping families and communities think and act greener by replacing 1 Billion plastic bags with LunchSkins reusable and recyclable products. Our hope is to raise a generation of kids who think that green is mainstream and to give them the tools to be change-makers in their communities.
What is LunchSkins’ mission?
Our mission is to replace everyday plastic with smart, sustainable solutions that are easy to use and accessible to everyone.
How is LunchSkins working to create a healthier, more sustainable planet?
We created LunchSkins to disrupt disposable plastic with a smarter, better, eco-friendly alternative. Our reusable sandwich bags were the first-to-market, dishwasher-safe bag made from pastry cloth and designed for food on-the-go day after day. Recently, we developed a new recyclable and sealable paper sandwich/snack bag that is 100% plastic free. As a team that values collaboration, we proudly partner with stores, like-minded brands and non profit organizations to raise awareness about plastic pollution and work together to protect our oceans.
Why is it important for consumers to adopt sustainable living practices?
At the very basic level, we need clean air, clean water and clean energy sources to ensure our survival. Today, we are more interconnected than ever on a global scale – what one region of the world does affects the health, politics, culture, and landscape of another region. Plastic pollution is one of those issues that is very visible, particularly if you’re living in part of the world that is used as a dumping ground. What concerns me is that, in the US, the issue can be out-of-sight, out-of-mind. We don’t see where our trash goes (much of it shipped offshore), therefore we consume liberally and generate mountains of waste. But it’s catching up with us… there has been an increase in beach closures on the West coast, increasing damage to wildlife and a massive decline in overall ocean health. But I’m an optimist. Young people today seem more aware of environmental issues and my hope is that they will drive greater awareness, compassion and action for a healthier planet.
What advice do you have for individuals who are looking to make a lifestyle change?
Where should they begin? It’s all about the little things we do every day. Big changes begin with very small individual choices and actions — choosing reusable products over disposable ones is a great first step. Don’t let it overwhelm you. Just start with one or two things: bring your own water bottle/insulated mug when you walk out the door, don’t accept the obligatory straw in your drink, bring a reusable bag or just carry your 5 small items out of the store in-hand, adjust your diet to eat less red meat and more veggies and sustainable seafood, plant something in your garden or a pot of herbs in your kitchen. Since plastic pollution is my issue, I’d encourage people to let go of the mindset that plastic bags, bottles, straws are benign and think of them as a cost to our health and the environment. Producing plastic, using plastic and disposing of plastic creates toxic emissions and clogs waterways and landfills. It’s actually pretty empowering to realize that we can do something each day that will make a difference in the scope of the massive plastic problem we’re facing worldwide. People today are demanding better sustainable choices and this will do more to drive change in schools, homes, and communities everywhere.
Where can customers purchase your products? Is there anything else they should know?
We just launched our new recyclable and sealable paper sandwich bags in Target grocery and Whole Foods this summer, and also sell LunchSkins in many other natural grocery stores. Our long-time partner, the Container Store, is currently selling both reusable and recyclable products nationally. If none of these options work, you can always find a large assortment of LunchSkins on our website, lunchskins.com.
How are you trying to live a plastic free life? Share with us in the comments below!
It’s National Recycling Week! To celebrate, we’ve invoked the help of Diane from Big Green Purse to share a few ways we can recycle our food and in turn help the planet (and our pocket books too). Check it out!