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Ali Cotton Plastic Free July

Health and Wellness Experts and Business Owners Share How They Go Plastic Free

In a time where people are becoming increasingly environmentally conscience and understand the impacts of plastic on our environment, health and wellness experts join in with Plastic Free July to help make our environment a better place to live in.

We spoke to four health and wellness experts about their contribution to reducing the use of plastic in our environment:

Dr Lewis Ehrlich, Holistic Dentist – Sydney Holistic Dental Centre

"I use a biodegradable toothbrush or electric toothbrush. We are meant to change our #toothbrush every 3 months or after we have been unwell In Australia, we use about 30 million toothbrushes a year, all of which eventually go to landfill. If you decide to make the switch like I have, keep your old toothbrushes as cleaning utensils around the house rather than throwing them out. If you are concerned about going back to a manual brush put your #dentist to work and get them to spend the time going over good brushing technique. Do the right thing by your teeth and the environment."

Ali Cotton – Designer and founder First Base, ethical and sustainable Sports Lifestyle Brand

At First Base we are constantly working towards being a fully ethical and sustainable sports lifestyle brand. Solving the packaging problem as a fashion brand has been a priority from the get go. All our good are individually packed in plastic bags and that's thousands of bags each year that would ultimately go to landfill, and that is not cool! We researched many options for a more sustainable solution and landed on biodegradable poly bags. All of our poly bags are now made fromD2W Biodegradable plastic, which will degrade completely within 3-5 years and leave no harmful traces in the environment.

Lauren Vickers – Model, Personal Trainer and founder of eco-friendly activewear Paco Loves Luna

Made using recycled plastic bottles to create lightweight, quick dry eco-friendly clothing for women - Paco Loves Luna showcases activewear for all shapes & sizes, including maternity and plus sizes. Following her love of fitness, beauty and activewear Lauren Vickers is weaving her worlds together and has launched online activewear store Paco Loves Luna.

The brand ranges from simple colours through to creative prints with all the fabrics being eco-friendly, even down to the stitching being hand sewn with 100% organic cotton. Paco Loves Luna brings comfortable and quality activewear to all forms of fitness, from your yoga class right through to your weights and cardio workouts. Lauren, along with Paco Loves Luna are looking forward to bringing more sustainable, eco-friendly options to Australian shores.

Heather Beekan Founder of the Natural and Australian Skin and oral care brand KOHLE

As a beauty brand, we've become really conscious of our impact on the environment, we're aware that our products have a lot of packaging and so now we look at how we can reduce and use more eco-friendly options. We steer away from standard shipping satchels and opt for bio-degradable satchels or boxes. In addition, when buying the ingredients to manufacture the products we purchase the exact amount that we need if we don't manage to use all the ingredients we put it aside to use in the next batch so there is no wastage.

Interview with Ali Cotton, Founder of Ethical and Sustainable Sports Lifestyle Brand First Base

Question: What inspired the creation of First Base?

Ali Cotton: I've always been big into surfing, a water baby from the youngest of age. I wanted to be a pro surfer when I was growing up but never had the skill or talent! After an injury when I was a teenager I turned to my second passion, which was design and fashion. After working in fashion for around eight years on other product, First Base came from the overwhelming desire to work on product that really resonated with me and fit with my overall style and lifestyle. I just wanted to work on something I believed in and could speak totally authentically about.

Question: How is First Base an ethical and sustainable sports lifestyle brand?

Ali Cotton: We are really proud that all our garments are ethically produced. We have worked hard to get to that point. We work with an independent body to have our factories bi-annually audited to ensure they are meeting the WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production) standards. It's important to us to know that things are being done right. From a sustainable perspective we have implemented a lot of great practices on a micro and marco level to lessen our impact on the environment from bio degradable poly bags and 100% recycled labeling and packaging, to using Organic Cotton, Sustainable Bamboo and Recycled Nylon in our garments as opposed to virgin fabrications. We've made changes throughout the brand and continue to do so every season. We also work with Carbon Neutral Australia and have a tree planting program where we plant trees to offset the carbon emissions associated with our business. There's an endless amount of things you can do as a business to lessen your impact - it's certainly a work in progress.

Question: How does First Base decrease their footprint by implementing plastic free practices?

Ali Cotton: Our biggest win are our bio degradable poly bags that are printed with soy bean ink and leave no harmful traces in the environment after then degrade. They begin to breakdown after 3-5 yeas and don't require any UV light to do so which means if they hit landfill in someone's garbage bag they will still break down.

Question: How did you go about researching the best plastic free alternative for your business?

Ali Cotton: We spoke to a lot of suppliers about all different types of alternatives for our packaging from recycled plastic to recycled papers and bio degradable options.

We landed on a combination of recycled paper and completely bio degradable plastic... It took us around 18 months to source, develop and replace all of these things in our business.

Question: How are you reducing your plastic consumption at home and in the office, this month?

Ali Cotton: For me it's not just about this month, it's every day. Using a Keep Cup, banning plastic straws whenever I go out for drinks and being prepared at all times with canvas shopping bags instead of opting for plastic.
These are all such simple things that everyone can do to make a big difference.

The other thing I'm always trying to do is avoid packaged food - because when you think about all the packaging you throw out when you cook it's kind of insane so I'm all about getting to the farmers markets on the weekends and stocking up on fresh produce

Question: What's a typical day like, for you?

Ali Cotton: Busy would be an understatement. I'm generally pulled in 100 different directions across so many areas of the business.

I try to find time in the morning for exercise, typically yoga or a cardio class and then I hit work by 7:30 or 8am.
I'm usually working on ranging, assisting our production team with fittings and being across the detail of things, working with our graphic designer on content and imagery and then taking meetings with different people in terms of collaboration and marketing. I roll home around 6:30 or 7pm most nights. Cook something simple for my husband and I and am in bed by 9:30pm!

I made that sound really glamorous right?

Question: What's the biggest business challenge you've had to overcome at First Base?

Ali Cotton: That's a difficult thing to answer because they are many and relentless - but it's all about perspective. You can't let the challenges way you down, you just need to find a solution and move forward. Such is life!

Question: What's next for First Base?

Ali Cotton: Right now I'm just trying to finish another new range which I'm about a month late on! I'd just like to keep growing what we are doing, keep moving towards sustainability, and keep having fun.

Interview by Brooke Hunter


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