Truth be told, I was going a little cuckoo-pants picking up all that plastic and laying it out piece by filthy piece on the air hockey table to take pictures of it. So after some 800+ litter portraits, I decided to shift from collecting and documenting, to preventing as much plastic from entering the waste stream as I possibly could.
I believe you can close your eyes and spin around and around, and the first piece of plastic you see when you open your eyes, could be what you make it your mission in life to provide a zero-waste, or waste-less alternative to.
I picked a weird one: School Supplies. I focused my energy here simply because the annual purchasing of this particular category of plastic is so rote, so prescribed, and so extensive. Most often, schools provide a list of needed supplies to parents - parents take the list to an office supply store/big retailer, and they do their best to match what's on the list, with what's on the shelves. What's mostly on the shelves are inexpensive plastic and vinyl products intended to be used for a while, then thrown away at the end of the year to make room for next year's shopping list. Great business for the retailer, a stunning mess in terms of plastic waste generation.
At first I made a volunteer effort out of it - I convinced a small/awesome school (Cascade Canyon School) in Fairfax California to allow me to purchase ALL of the supplies for 70 students. I worked with the teachers to find out what they wanted their students to have, and sourced everything as zero-waste as I could find it. I divided the cost evenly, and parents wrote checks to me to pay for their child's share of the school supplies.
Picturing 70 families not walking out of big box retail stores with bags and bags of pre-garbage plastic school supplies, is ultimately what compelled me continue the effort even after my own children had gone on to other schools. With the help of some friends + the internet, I wrote a business plan, created a logo, incorporated, applied for B-Corp Certification, and convinced a tiny army of the finest people to throw themselves into this endeavor with me. Now we're busy stocking a warehouse in San Francisco in order to fulfill mail order shipments this summer, and make deliveries to schools for what has grown from 70 students, to now 452.
Just like that, Easy. Peasy. Snip snap presto = we're in business. This is the how-to book I've been relying on the most:
I'd love it if you checked out what I've been working on since I stopped blogging about the plastic litter I picked up in my neighborhood. And I'd be over the MOON if you thought it was share-worthy on any social media platform. We really need people to know that a Zero Waste School Supply Company exists, so we can push this whole effort forward and keep a whole lot of plastic from ever becoming waste for some poor schmuck to pick up in the first place.