Kallista Jayasuriya interviews Koti, a family-run eco-friendly business based in Nottingham that launched in February 2020, aiming to help people “kickstart their zero waste journey”.
Over the last few years, we’ve all become much more aware of our impact on the environment. Famous figures and groups such as Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion have catapulted the issue to the forefront of global politics and the media as problems such as plastic waste and ocean pollution are hard to ignore. As a result, there’s an increasing demand for eco-friendly businesses to provide the means to live a less wasteful and more ecological life.
Koti have done just that. Their goal is to make becoming eco-friendly more convenient and less expensive, by offering carefully selected products and curated zero-waste boxes that reduce the plastic waste you produce gradually.
Their first box, The Kitchen Box, was launched in the same month that they established their business. Unfortunately, lockdown began just a few short weeks later. Koti rose to the challenge by creating the Stay At Home Box – a self care box filled with locally sourced products to help support independent Nottingham businesses through the pandemic. Since then they’ve also launched The Bathroom Box, filled with health and beauty plastic alternatives.
KJ: Why do you think your Stay at Home Box, released in April, was so well received?
K: People are becoming more aware of their impact on the environment – so we’re trying to make it as simple as possible to transition to a zero waste lifestyle.
We released our Stay At Home Box to allow our customers to treat themselves whilst also supporting local Nottingham businesses during lockdown. We’re so proud of all the amazing independent businesses in the city, and wanted to do everything in our power to show them support throughout this testing period.
We had no idea how successful the box would be. The Stay at Home Box is the perfect unique care package, filled with local eco-friendly treats. We quickly realised people were sending the boxes as gifts to distant loved ones they couldn’t see at the moment, to show their love or celebrate an occasion. The box also promotes looking after your own mental health and wellbeing by taking time out for self care – so I think a combination of the above meant that the box was received really well.
What advice would you give to anyone reading that wants to begin their journey of becoming less wasteful/ decreasing their plastic waste? How can they ease into a more zero-waste lifestyle gradually?
Lots of people do want to live more sustainably but find it really overwhelming knowing where to start – which can put people off trying. Media coverage of environmental issues can also make you feel really helpless.
The best way to start is to focus on small, achievable steps in your day to day life. Figure out easy low cost tweaks you can make to your daily routine, and encourage those around you to do the same.
Our curated boxes are a simple way to make a number of these initial changes at once. For example, our bathroom box helps you switch out typical bathroom products that generate plastic waste for more sustainable alternatives. However, there are lots of ways you can make changes without spending any money – we love sharing handy hints and tips on our social media channels and in our blog.
What inspired you to start an eco-friendly business?
We realised how tricky it is to motivate people to live in a more eco-friendly way. The zero waste market is huge – there are countless online shops, social media accounts and big brands selling complicated sustainable products.
living more sustainably can be really simple, low cost and rewarding
We started our business simply because we want to make it easy. Our aim is to streamline the whole process with our boxes to encourage more people to get involved. The truth is, living more sustainably can be really simple, low cost and rewarding.
Why do you think some people across the country have protested against paper straws, or plastic-reducing measures? For example, linked is a petition that demands McDonald’s returns to using plastic straws: it has more signatures than expected and was last signed three weeks ago despite being created last year. What sort of thing can people who are conscious and eco-friendly do, or say, to encourage more people to reduce their impact on the environment?
In general, people don’t like change! Anything that alters your daily routine or inconveniences you naturally puts you off – even something really little and insignificant, like paper straws going soggy. People aren’t against eco-friendly measures, they’re against things becoming more difficult or less enjoyable.
‘eco’ doesn’t always equal less enjoyable
One way that eco-conscious people can be encouraging is to point out that ‘eco’ doesn’t always equal less enjoyable. Sustainable products can be just as convenient and easy as plastic options. Metal straws and bamboo straws are both great alternatives to paper or plastic. Making alternative options more well-known could make a huge difference.
Similar to the above question, what do you think the government should do to reduce plastic waste and to reduce greenhouse emissions?
There are a number of things that the government could do to tackle our current environmental problems. Lots of other European countries – such as Finland, Sweden and Iceland – have fantastic waste management solutions, public transport/cycling options, renewable energy production and lots more.
Our name, Koti, means ‘home’ in Finland. We chose to go with a Finnish name as the country is taking some admirable steps to move towards a greener future. We could definitely take more inspiration from how other governments have successfully reduced emissions, improved air quality and drastically lessened waste.
What is your opinion on ‘elitism’ in the zero-waste movement? Do you think it is a problem that discourages others from trying?
There is definitely an element of elitism. Some influencers and brands can tarnish the zero waste movement by making it seem that you need to be 100% perfect – never using any plastic, eating meat, driving cars or producing any waste. This image then alienates a lot of people and cuts people out of the movement altogether.
In all honesty, most people aren’t able to live that perfect idyllic waste-free lifestyle. This could be for a number of reasons – you could live in an area where there are no bulk food shops, you might need to eat certain foods for health reasons, you might need to carry plastic-wrapped products for your children, or you simply may not be able to access or afford expensive alternatives.
In reality, there’s no need to be perfect. Small steps and little changes add up to huge results – and it’s far more important that everyone makes a tiny change to their lifestyle than just a handful of people doing it ‘perfectly’.
If you want to start living a more sustainable lifestyle and create less waste, Koti boxes are the perfect place to start. Use code IMPACT10 for 10% discount on their online shop – you can browse their eco products and boxes here https://www.kotiboxes.com/ . You can also find Koti on facebook and instagram @kotiboxes.
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