Small Steps, Big Changes

Written by Victoria Hordvik, summer intern at Empower

Most articles that bring up the topic of plastic waste problems start off by referring to statistics related to how much plastic we as consumers produce each year; how many tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans, or how much of produced plastic is being efficiently recycled on a yearly basis. Of course, we need facts and figures to provide the reader with convincing information and add factual weight to an argument, but how effective is this statistic really? Do these statistics lead to change?

Many portray the plastic waste problem as too difficult to address, which somewhat justifies why not much has been done to solve it. Ironically, many small business owners now seem to be determined to solve the problem.

EMPOWER, a Norwegian-based organization building an online solution for a global recycling scheme using blockchain technology, has recently initiated collaborations with several businesses that are taking small steps to stimulate big changes. These businesses share the same desire as Empower: giving plastic waste a value and ultimately cleaning up the plastic waste from our oceans.

OCEANHEARTS, for instance, is a startup that fights the plastic waste problem by converting plastic retrieved from the ocean into beautiful pieces of wearable jewelry. Founder of Oceanhearts, Justine Kaczenski, shares:

I want people to think of sustainability and environmental awareness in a playful and easy way, making it tangible for everybody — and not impossible as the media continuously portrays it.

Vallon & Empower Plastic Free July initiative

Through Oceanhearts, Kaczenski wants to raise awareness and encourage ocean lovers to pull up their sleeves and make an impact.

Similarly, ALPENHEAT, specializing in heated clothing and shoe drying systems, recognized that their customers were earning for more sustainable products. In order to meet this demand, Alpenheat partnered with Empower, which results in the recovery of 2kg of ocean plastic waste for every 1kg of plastic used in the production of their products.

REVIE, retailer of bottles, portrays yet another example of how businesses can be a part of the solution. Revie sells three distinct bottles, each aiming to solve different environmental problems. Every sale of their Sea Bottle results in 1kg of plastic removal from the environment. Likewise, every Arctic Bottle eliminates 300kg of CO2 and every Jungle Bottle protects jungles from 800m2 of deforestation.

Also sunglasses brands can contribute.
VALLON, provider of high-performance sports eyewear, have partnered with Empower to ensure that for every pair of sunglasses sold, they offset at least one kilos worth of plastic waste. This July, as part of their #PlasticFreeJuly campaign, their efforts were increased and for every pair sold they made the customer plastic waste neutral for a month.

These businesses show us that it is possible to combine business with environmental conscious decisions, regardless of their industry. The first step is recognizing that plastic waste is a global issue. It is just like any other business problem: locate the source of the problem, find ways to solve it, implement the best solution. And — voilà — your business can make a difference! But who can blame them for not trying? Business schools teach aspiring business owners to optimize their expenses at all costs, leaving little focus on how to “set aside” for environmentally conscious business decisions.

Fortunately, not all business owners act according to homo economicus. In fact, businesses such as Oceanhearts and Alpenheat show that there is a willingness to sacrifice profits in return for sustainable solutions.

Since childhood, Tanja Gragl, General Manager at Alpenheat, has admired the beauty of the ocean and what it contains. She admitted that seeing images of turtles with wrapped plastic around their neck from the plastic we throw into the oceans is what pushed her to take action.

Gragl argues that there are many ways in which businesses can be more environmentally friendly. In addition to taking actions such as collaborating with Empower, she suggests changing to more environmentally conscious electricity providers and methods of transportation.

Now, more than ever, with increased single-use plastics as preventative measures against the spread of corona virus, our oceans are overflowing with plastic waste. It is essential that businesses take the first step by recognizing the problem at hand and take action to solve it. By partnering with plastic fighting companies like Empower, businesses gain easy access into the plastic revolution.

Wilhelm Myrer, founder and CEO at Empower, encourages all business owners with his words to cultivate a similar mindset:

To be sustainable, a business needs to focus on profit, but you should also make a positive difference in the world.”

Small steps can lead to big changes.

Read more about their inspirational work here Empower; Oceanhearts; Alpenheat; Revie; Vallon.

#EmpowerAid #EndPlasticWaste #PlasticFreeJuly #Vallon #Oceanhearts #Alpenheat #Revie #WilhelmMyrer

Founders were interviewed by Orsi Parkanyi