Plastic Free July, the brainchild of the Plastic Free Foundation is now in its tenth year. This July we have been nudging and nurdling our followers on social with little reminders on how they can make a real difference through making a ‘small habit’ change to reduce usage. However, I felt that it stood to reason that if we are asking people to make positive change we too need to the ‘walk the talk’.
So where is Pala in the conversation around plastic? Naturally as a manufacturer of eyewear and the accessories that come with it, we are exposed to a substantial supply chain in bringing our product to our customers. We’ve always taken that same approach of making small positive changes to minimise our use of plastic right from day one. It’s very much a journey – the ambition of course to one day be entirely plastic free.
In terms of our product, all our frames are made from bio-acetate, similar to regular acetate (wood pulp) except it’s mixed with bio-based plasticisers, made from renewable sources — instead of oil-based ones. It’s recyclable and biodegradable. This year for our non-polarised frames we are using lenses that are 39.5% made from castor bean and we continue to look at other solutions in that space too improve.
As some of you might know we use plastic for our cases, but this is 100% recycled plastic. We source from a combination of secondary waste plastic provided by a factory in Accra, Ghana and discarded water sachets, quite literally picked up of the ground. Indeed more than 30,000 such sachets have been used in our cases to date, and the important point here is that is has engendered behaviour change. By putting a small monetary value on the sachets it means that they are now being kept and stored for future material usage rather than be thrown away onto the ground. If you’ve not seen how we create our cases then you can watch the process in action on our ‘Films’ page.
Our protective microfiber soft bags are made from 70% recycled PET bottles, the best solution we feel there is right now, but we will continue to challenge our supplier to go even better.
I am also conscious of the fact that as a ‘producer’ we have a wider responsibility too. We are bringing frames into this world as responsibly as possible, but equally we need to have a solution for taking frames out of the system too. We’ve been working with Terracycle for the last year for this very reason.
We have a recycle scheme in place (only available in the UK right now) whereby we will take back up to three old frames you may have lurking in the bottom of your drawers when we send you a pair of our own. Invariably most will be plastic and these will be broken down into component parts and find a new life as such as plant pots, watering cans and dog bowls!
What about Plastic Free July?
Well, our small change was to swap out the small individual oil-based plastic bags that our supplier in Italy were sending our sunglasses in. We purchased a consignment of bags made entirely from corn-starch (renewably sourced and biodegradable) for them to use for us and if they so wished other customers of theirs too. It’s a small step towards getting us to the plastic free target I’m hoping it may just provide a little nudge for our supplier to make that change too. Small positive steps.
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Felicia is our ‘camera ninja’ when it comes to photography for the Pala website. Hailing from Sweden, but now based close to the Pala Brighton HQ. When she’s not exercising her skills of mind control to make models relax on shoots you’ll find her in a cafe enjoying a good cup of coffee, or at home baking cinnamon buns.
Emma is our marketing guru. When Emma isn’t planning, strategizing and creating content, she can be found travelling the world exploring its wonders, or in more recent times – headphones on with a paintbrush in her hand creating an abstract masterpiece!
Mary is the team leader of the Care4basket project in Bolgatanga, Ghana. When Mary is not organising and supporting the work across the communities, you will find her sowing sweet potatoes, ground nut, millet and looking after the animals on the farm.
Izzy is our Sales and Comms mastermind. When Izzy isn’t throwing herself down a mountain on a snowboard, she can normally be found rummaging through vintage shops or pounding the fields with her beloved puppy, Mac. She once mislaid a finger on a night out (eek!) – girl knows how to party!
Justin is our ‘Film Alchemist’. When he’s not laying on the floor looking for the next shot he’s either exploring the finest bourbons and listening to obscure country music tracks from the 50s and 60s. Normally found planning his next trip abroad or fuelling the pineapple on pizza debate. Just so you know he’s firmly in the Hawaiian camp!