A life less plastic-y: Viveco Pop Up Talk

Updated: Nov 13, 2018

A write up from the excellent and engaging talk we had from Viveco in The Hub.

The headliners:

A. There is no quick fix solution to plastic consumption. 

B. To be able to address and implement change, we first need to accept that there are parts of our lives where we will use plastic. There is no point beating yourself up about it. If you try to change every element where you use plastic, it will be nothing but overwhelming and you won't change at all.

C. We can't change everything at once. But what we can do is become more aware. More aware of the large companies that are creating huge amounts of unnecessary plastics and stop buying their products. Or we can support the causes and movements which are demanding a better alternative approach to what we have already. It is also important that we take responsibility of our own choices.

D. Zero waste principals are based around a way of life and a mindset. It is this mindset and approach we each need to address in ourselves if we are collectively going to make a positive impact.  

Our first talk and pop up event at The Hub was from Hannah Russell, Founder and Director of Viveco a Mallorca based brand determined to help reduce our dependency on plastics and provide sustainable alternatives to everyday plastics. Hannah's has a background in the yacht industry. Having moved around the world in this crew community, she started to equate quantities of rubbish with the total number of crew onboard and noticed it was a huge amount on a daily basis. She could see the cycle of buying, using, "throwing away" and shopping again, mostly of things we do not really need. That's when she read up about zero waste. 

"Zero waste is a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused."

It encourages an evaluation of what you value.  To adapt to this philosophy and help reduce your consumption, you can apply this mantra: 

Do I need it, is it useful, do I love it?

Because when we throw something away, there is no real 'away', it just gets sent further down the line until it ends up in landfill. If you can 'close the loop' on the linear economy to make it cyclical instead, you are helping reduce waste.

Zero waste is the positive of trying. You can see gorgeous ladies on social media with a jam jar of waste for a year and get disheartened. But if you see Zero Waste as the positive of even trying to implement changes, you are on the right path. You don't have to be perfect, you just need to make changes. 

"We all (should) do!"

The Four R's

You can start to apply the principles of zero waste living though the 4R's as suggested by the Plastic Pollution Coalition

Reduce - Reducing your overall consumption is key. It doesn't mean you can't enjoy life but make sure you buy something that will either a) last for life, with a lifetime guarantee b) can be fixed or c) can be repurposed into something else.

Refuse - Say no to things you really don't need. Single use plastics like straws and plastic wrapped plastic cutlery. As long as they see you use it, they will supply it. Be responsible and find alternatives. 

Reuse - close the loop, choose things that come from the earth, use them and know that because they are natural and come from the earth, they will eventually go back to the earth. It is a false economy to think you are getting a cheaper plastic toothbrush than a bamboo toothbrush when the real cost of a plastic one is far higher when you consider it's (negative) impact on the earth. 

Recycle - Invest in reusable items. Carry your own cutlery, cup and water bottle. Adapt to your lifestyle. If you need more water to stop you buying bottled water when you are away from home, get a larger refillable water bottle and keep it in your car for example. Change your mindset to make things work for your life. think this bit in red belongs in Reuse not Recycle? Recycling isn't the solution. And the biggest problem with recycling is that people do not use the system properly which mean much of it, despite other people's efforts, goes to landfill.If you are buying things with non-recyclable elements like silicon (found around the reusable coffee cups) find a company that offer a postal service to recycle it for you when you are finished. 

The Dangers of Bioplastics

Bioplastics are a relatively new type of plastic which are made primarily from renewable sources rather than petroleum. You may find bioplastics being labeled as made from sugar cane / corn starch /potato starch / wood chip etc. There are some positives in the ways that Bioplastics are made but there are problems involved in their disposal and the publics perception of these products. Biodegradable Bioplastics are sold in many places as being 'compostable' however there isn't a proper recycling system in place. When products say they biodegrade, they only disintegrate when in their perfect compostable environment which is not often where they end up, such as the sea. It is unfortunate that through language and clever marketing, bioplastics sell people the idea they are being proactive but they don't encourage the principals of the 4 R's and instead allow people to continue with the same habits. 

Where to shop

Shopping second hand, not buying new things is a positive way to reduce waste. Food shopping is the hardest area to make changes to plastic consumption. Followed by the kitchen. 

You may have seen the zero plastic bulk shops appearing in cities and supported social media, but if you look around ,there are already plenty of places you'll find in your area that sell their produce plastic-free.  Places like local fruterias or markets for example. You can take your own containers to wrap meat or cheese. Market stall owners are happy to cooperate, you just have to go prepared. It is important that we support them and buy from them and use the services that are already established.

Shops In Mallorca:

La Granoteca is a bulk store in Santa Catalina. If we support what they are doing, they can raise funds to expand on their services and provide more products. 

Al Campo - many people don't realise but there is a bulk aisle in Al Campo selling sweets, cereals, pulses and beans. 

How to start?

- Address different areas in your life and work through methodically to start to make the changes swapping out plastics for alternatives.  - Find microfibre alternatives: instead of using green and yellow sponges which release plastic particles into the water system, use an old T-shirt. 

- Keep everything products and materials as close to nature/natural as possible - this reduces man made fibres and materials and toxins and chemicals. 

- Use Guppy Bags for your washing. They trap 98% of microfibre waste that is released from your washed clothes and stops it breaking down in the water system.  Or you can buy filters on your washing machine to also prevent microfibres from being released.

A question which opened up a 15 minute discussion around the topic: Can you drink the water in Palma?

Water in Palma has lots of chlorine and hardness. It is drinkable but it is not tasty. To test it yourself you can go to the pharmacy and ask for a vial to test the water. A Britta filter takes out some of the chlorine and gives it a better taste but you will find it has a high level of pharmaceutical content still residing in the water.

Take Action

If you are interested in going to the recycling centre to see how waste is recycled you can go on the first Saturday of each month to Son Reus to look around. You can get an English brochure from organisation TRIME

For those interested in learning more about the plastic revolution in the Balearics, be sure to watch Out of Plastic https://www.cleanwave.org/en/the-film/  - a film by Cleanwave a Mallorca based charity working waters a plastic free future. Make sure you look up Cleanwave and find out where you can refill water in Mallorca for free. 

Hannah will be popping up again at The Hub at our Winter Market on 23rd/24th November with many excellent products to help you, or your extended family (including your mother in law) to start 2019 off on the right foot.

Make sure you check out Viveco's online website for more information on all the fantastic products she has available https://www.viveco.co/