This is the fifth post in the series “Ocean Guardians We Admire”, read the fourth post here
We are stoked to say that Jay Sinha and Chantal Plamondon are this month’s featured “Ocean Guardians We Admire”! Founders of the business/online store Life Without Plastic (LWP) and winners of the 2014 My Ocean Guardian Journey Contest, Jay and Chantal are pioneers in the movement to increase awareness of and reduce plastic waste in the world, particularly the oceans. We feel so inspired by these folks, because of the passion that fuels their hard work on awareness and reducing their plastic usage, and also by their enthusiasm in spreading the essence of that mission. Since their relationship with Bodhi Surf School began last year, Jay and Chantal have shared their insights generously with the Bodhi team. From providing us with an educational presentation called “Plastic: Why and how to avoid it”, to giving thoughtful tips and product suggestions for our recent plastic audit, we really feel a sense of community and camaraderie with these folks.
It’s all about awareness
Around the time their son was born in 2003, Jay and Chantal were investigating ways to reduce their exposure to environmental toxins. As they researched, they realized the harms that plastics pose to our health. This was the main catalyst for starting LWP. Finding it difficult to track down non-plastic alternatives back then, Jay says that, “Chantal had always wanted to start her own business, so this seemed like the perfect way to get the ball rolling. It totally flowed from our life experience and aligned with our values.”
Although their company is called “Life Without Plastic”, Jay and Chantal are honest about their evolving relationship with plastic, referring to it as “a lifelong journey.” When asked if they find it difficult to live with less plastic, they responded that, “No, we’re used to it now, and it’s just become our way of life. I should mention that we are by no means completely plastic-free… to us, living with less plastic is really an attitude of awareness more than anything. We are not perfect, and we’re constantly learning and looking for new ways to go plastic-free.” This is motivating to us here at Bodhi Surf. As a small business that is also moving toward relying less on plastic products, we are encouraged to remember that it doesn’t happen all at once. This reality allows us to stay motivated and focused on our goals. Basically it is support to keep going, even when faced with challenges.
As innovators in the plastic-free movement, we asked Jay and Chantal what they would want people to know about reducing plastics in their lives. They responded by saying, “The key is to take it one step at a time, and not try and do it all at once. You don’t want to feel overwhelmed and lose momentum or become discouraged. Interestingly, once you start, it’s hard to stop; it just becomes second nature. It’s all about awareness.”
Part of the growing movement
If we want to change our habits around plastic, we must allow space for creativity… what can we utilize instead? How can we reduce, refuse, reuse, repurpose, recycle, or reinvent? Jay and Chantal are creative as individuals and business owners within this movement. They see the creative potential in non-plastic goods, citing one of their favorite inventions as the simple mason jar, which they say, “provides a kaleidoscope of potential ways to help reduce your plastic use: water bottle, coffee mug, take-out food container, bulk food buying and storage receptacle, leftover food storage, food freezing container, knick knack holder, makeshift lamp. Everyone has access to mason jars at essentially no cost, so money does not have to be an issue for beginning your plastic-free journey.”
Speaking of creativity, Jay and Chantal mention the “creative outpouring of art that uses plastic as its medium”, saying that “one of the most inspiring examples of that is Dianna Cohen, a visual artist who began using plastic bags in her art, and went on to co-found the growing Plastic Pollution Coalition (PPC) She is now the PPC CEO, and is bringing together all kinds of individuals, organizations, businesses and policymakers from around the world to galvanize the plastic-free movement in a united direction with common goals.”
Beyond the individual contributions we are seeing, Jay and Chantal reference another form of inspiration: “the global corporate movement toward a new plastics economy based on circular economy principles. The idea is that plastics would never become waste, they would be completely reused (or recycled). Plastic packaging is the initial focus and was the subject of a project and research report presented at this year’s World Economic Forum.
“We feel honored and charged to be part of this growing movement to live with less plastic. And what keeps us going — and positive and encouraged — are two key things…
- Seeing all the progress that is happening around the world to reduce plastic pollution and live with less plastic, and
- The supportive relationships we have developed over the years with all kinds of folks making changes toward living with less plastic, be they customers of ours or like-minded organizations and partners, such as Bodhi Surf!”
We look forward to collaborating more with and seeing innovation from these two in the future. If you’re exploring ways to reduce your own plastic consumption, definitely check out their website above—it offers a plethora of alternative products as well as resources and a blog to raise awareness. Thanks for all that you do, Jay and Chantal!
Written by Sam Rose