Beth Noy is the founder of plastic-free ecommerce platform Plastic Freedom, which launched in 2018. From toothbrushes and beauty to cleaning products, groceries and clothing, Plastic Freedom is an essential resource for anyone who wants to make the change to plastic-free products. Brummell spoke to Beth at the end of plastic-free July, a campaign to make the summer month the start of their eco journey. She spoke to us about why losing plastics from our everyday lives has to be easy, staying positive and the Sir David Attenborough effect.
Moving to the seaside town of Southport really opened my eyes to plastic pollution, as it was everywhere, all over the beach. It made me start seeing things in a different way and noticing how much disposable packaging my work colleagues and I got through just from our lunchtime meal-deals every day. It made me really start to think about how much as humans we throw away.
From thinking a lot about it, I started a blog and that really helped a lot of people understand the issue with plastic pollution. In fact, I was learning at the same time as my readers. But when I spoke to friends and family about making swaps to reduce waste, they said it was too time consuming. I persevered, swapping my everyday products for more eco-friendly and plastic-free items and through this journey, I realised if I made it an easy process for everyone then more people would start to make changes.
The best piece of advice I was ever given was that it’s OK to be different. I actually gave myself this advice after having therapy at the age of 21. I realised I was different to a lot of people around me, and wouldn’t be satisfied living the stereotypical life that society can push you into without even noticing – and that’s OK. I always encourage others to take time getting to know yourself, figure out what makes you happy, what you’re willing to work hard for and constantly re-evaluating that as you go through life, because we’re always changing.
My recommendation for anyone wanting to reduce his or her plastic use is: don’t reach for the end goal of being completely plastic free. If you break it down and do little things over time, it will change your habits and mind-set and before you know it, you’ll have cut out so much plastic from your life. I usually suggest starting with the area you’re most interested in – beauty products, for example – if that’s what you enjoy purchasing then you’ll enjoy the process.
There are so many eco products on the market that come wrapped in plastic. Trying to find brands that were willing to provide me with their items plastic-free was one of the biggest hurdles I came across. And really made me want to start my own plastic-free enterprise, Plastic Freedom, which I launched in 2018.
To find the products and brands for Plastic Freedom, I just look for products I need myself. I know what I need to live plastic-free – so it’s basically like online shopping for myself, I look on Instagram and then contact brands to see if I can be a stockist. Happily, I now have new brands contact me and often it means I get to be the first to launch them in the market, which is amazing.
There are so many plastic-free products I love, but there are some I use everyday and would be hard pushed to give up. These include refillable Fill cleaning products, Moo Hair Shampoo, Wild Sage Oil Cleanser for removing make-up, Zao Mascara, which is refillable, and reusable make-up cotton rounds, which reduce waste.
We plant a tree for every Plastic Freedom order placed using an incredible company called One Tree Planet. Because we don’t use plastic to send anything out at Plastic Freedom, I didn’t want to cause another problem by using cardboard boxes and paper bags. I always look for FSC-certified packaging where possible, but I am a big believer in looking at the bigger picture and having a positive impact in as many ways as possible. One Tree Planet plants a tree in an area that really needs it and since June 2019, we’ve planted 20,000 trees – it makes me happy to think of it before going to bed every night.
There’s been a dramatic change in attitudes towards plastic since I started Plastic Freedom. Conversations about eliminating single-use plastics have made their way into the mainstream thanks to Blue Planet II (thanks Sir David Attenborough). The world is waking up to the problem and with more coverage and consumer pressure, it forces the bigger companies into making changes with their packaging.
We’re just coming to the end of Plastic Free July, a month where people try and ditch the plastic for 31 days. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest trying to go cold turkey for the month – going plastic free is hard if you do it in one go; it’s everywhere. I encourage people to make swaps in a different area of their lives each week and swap products with their friends to make it fun!
I have so many ideas for the future of Plastic Freedom. I want to create what I have in the UK overseas and in each country, stock local brands and build up the movement and awareness. I also want to consult for businesses that want to go plastic free, and help eco business get off the ground.
I also want to take a step back from the day-to-day at the Plastic Freedom warehouse and really start to have more of an impact so I have decided to make the move to Newquay, on my own, supporting my team from afar so I can start to make these ideas come to life, while living by the most stunning coastline.
I’m lucky that I love what I do and I really appreciate life. I get so much joy from even the small things that happen everyday. My dad always said to me that success in life is when your passion, your work and your life all align. It’s a magical feeling. It’s incredible knowing what I’m doing is making a difference in something that wasn’t even really seen as an issue a few years ago. And just by living my life the way I do I’m inspiring so much change in individuals and businesses, and it’s spreading rapidly.
However, as much as I love my ‘job’, I prioritise living my life, which means being around nature, surfing, riding my bike, spending time by the beach and seeing the people I care about. Without that, I couldn’t keep doing what I’m doing. There are definitely harder days but those days teach you so much that they make the better days even brighter.