Eliminating the use of plastic, one shampoo bottle at a time

In February of 2017 I went to a community education class at the Seward Co-Op in Minneapolis titled “Zero Waste Grocery Shopping”. I thought, what could this class teach me that I don’t already know? I bring my reusable bags, I try to buy organic…. and needless to say my mind was BLOWN when I realized how much trash and recycling I was contributing to the landfill. In this class I learned about the 5 R’s (refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, and rot) and immediately committed myself to decreasing my impact on the environment by zero wasting each room in my house. For me, compartmentalizing zero waste into individual rooms made it easier to find zero waste alternatives (aka swaps) to products that had a waste bi-product.

I was most intimidated about going zero waste in my bathroom. I just made a YouTube video about the transitioning zero waste bathroom, and in it I provide more details on my fear and I show you several swaps that I have implemented in the space that have really helped to decrease my waste. One of these swaps is ditching my old standard shampoo and conditioner bottles for a refillable option.

I discovered Plaine Products through Instagram and instantly fell in love with this company. The mission of Plaine Products is to reduce our use of plastic in this industry (LOVE!) and they provide quality and organic shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in refillable containers! I’ve heard feedback that many peopled don’t have a bulk section where they can refill their own containers, so Plaine Products is a wonderful option for you!

I sat down with one of the owners (okay, we actually just emailed from our respective computers), Lindsey, and interviewed her about her company.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Plaine Products?

A: For 10 years I lived in the Bahamas doing environment education work. While I loved living there, it wasn’t all rum drinks on the beach. On a small island there’s no first world infrastructure to insulate you from the piles of plastic we are creating. You see plastic bags, bottles and flip flops on the beaches, in the water, spilling out of the landfills, along the side of the road. There’s even a place so full of plastic its called Junk Beach. The message that plastic last forever, no matter how long we use it, is much more obvious living there than it is here.

Junk Beach

I wanted to start using less plastic in my life. I started taking action: carrying a reusable water bottle, reusable grocery bags, skipping the straw at restaurants and bars. I looked for other ways to use less plastic. But I couldn’t figure out how to get those plastic bottles out of my shower. I couldn’t find any alternatives that worked for me and my hair.

As we contemplated a move back to the States, I realized that I might be able to solve my own problem. Even better, I might be able to help other people use less plastic in their lives. I pulled in my sister, Alison Webster, who has a design degree and strong opinions about the quality of her products. Together we spent two years working hard to making it easier for people to get quality products without having to buy single-use plastic bottles.

Q: Do you have any idea of how many plastic bottles Plaine Products has diverted from the landfill?

A: So far we are at around 5,000, which isn’t bad for the first 8 months of operation!  Our goal is 10,000 in the first year and we’re growing quickly so I’m still hoping to get there.

Q: What are some of the things that you are doing at Plaine Products to be a sustainable company?

A: As far we know we are the only company that pays for you to send your bottles back to be cleaned, refilled, and reused. Once the bottles the bottles have gone through several cycles we’ll send them off to be recycled. The nice thing abut aluminum, as opposed to plastic, is that when it’s recycled there’s no loss in quality. It just turns right back into more aluminum. When plastic is recycled it is downgraded into a lower form of plastic until it becomes unusable and ends up in a landfill or the ocean.

We also make sure that our boxes are made rom recycled materials. We just went through a redesign process on the boxes so they are made to fit and we don’t have to put any fill or additional materials in.

Q: What is one thing you wish other people knew about sustainable living?

The fact that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050 haunts me. The issues created by single-use plastic are ones we are causing through our consumer choices, but it’s also one we can fix by making different decisions. However, some people are over whelmed at the thought of making those kinds of changes, carry reusable bags, water bottles, buying more sustainable products.  I’ve started a “progress, not perfection” mantra to encourage people to just start where ever they can. Every choice to avoid plastic is a good one!

Q: What’s one of your favorite health/beauty product brands?

A: I love Brush with Bamboo, it’s such an easy way to avoid single-use plastic that makes so much sense.

Lindsey and Ali, creators of Plaine Products
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