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This post is sponsored by Plaine Products, a company devoted to reducing single-use plastic waste in everyday bathroom essentials.
Lindsey McCoy and Alison Webster are the sister duo that co-founded Plaine Products. Lindsey’s determination to reduce single-use plastic coupled with Alison’s design background fostered a new way for people, such as myself, to enjoy bathroom essentials without the guilt of having to buy plastic bottles. Additionally, their products are vegan, toxin-free, child-safe, biodegradable and never animal-tested! They have now become my go-to source for staple items such as hair conditioner and lotion, two products for which I have not found a better alternative, thus far.
What inspired you to start Plaine Products?
For 10 years, I lived in the 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 beach, in the water, spilling out of the landfills, and strewn along the side of the road. There’s even a place so full of plastic it’s called Junk Beach. The message that plastic lasts forever, no matter how long we use it, is much more obvious living there than it is in the States.
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 the 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 make it easier for people to get quality products without having to buy single-use plastic bottles.
What is the mission or the goal of your company?
I love that your product has natural ingredients. You guys are obviously not simply focusing on the environment, but also on the chemical make-up of the products people use on themselves too. What are your requirements for the ingredients that go into Plaine Products?
What is the impact that we can have on the environment by switching to re-usable shampoo bottles? And why is using recyclable plastic bottles not a good enough solution?
While plastic is an amazing product, it doesn’t make sense for stuff we use once and then throw away. Companies use it because it’s cheap, but it’s only cheap because they aren’t paying for the cost of the waste it creates. More than 550 million shampoo bottles end up in landfills every year, and that’s just shampoo! While it’s great to recycle plastic, because it is downgraded when it is recycled, it can only go through the process once or twice before it heads to the landfill. Aluminum can be recycled infinitely and recycling aluminum actually uses less energy than creating bottles for virgin aluminum.
How are you guys working to create a circular economy?
Our whole model is circular. You order your preferred products. When your bottles are low, you order a refill, or you can subscribe and we’ll send the bottles automatically. When the refills come, you’ll switch the pumps over and send back the empty bottles in the refill box, while we at Plaine Products covers the cost. Then we clean the bottles, refill them, and reuse them.
Do you think that the environmental effects of the shipping of products (say from carbon emissions) outweigh the impact of plastic pollution at our landfills and oceans?
I always say if people have a local solution that’s working for them, they should keep doing it. This was created for people who didn’t have access to other options. That being said we are very aware of our carbon footprint. We use the US Postal Service so there are no extra trips made just to deliver our bottles. We are looking into integrating carbon offsets into our shop and we don’t ship internationally right now. Before we expand we want to find a partner so we can keep the bottles in country. Shipping them back and forth over an ocean doesn’t make sense.
I do appreciate that your product is available to me in particular, as I have also had a hard time finding a local solution to single-use plastic in my bathroom! As a follow up to the previous question, are there any plans to open stores, either in NY or across the country?
We already have formed partnerships with several existing retail stores, like the Package Free Shop in Brooklyn, and we hope our list continues to grow.
What new products can we look forward to?
Out of curiosity, what other ways do you personally reduce plastic waste in the bathroom? Any actionable tips?
I started Plaine Products so that I could get single-use plastics out of my bathroom. Up until that point, I hadn’t found another solution that worked for me. In addition to using our products, I have a bamboo toothbrush and I make my own homemade toothpaste (which is much easier than it sounds!).
I am SO glad you mentioned the toothpaste recipe! I cannot wait to try it out for myself. Lastly, are there any books, podcasts, articles, documentaries or other resources that you would recommend to people who are interested in reducing plastic waste?
There’s so much good stuff out there.Some of my favorite bloggers (all are also on social media), are Going Zero Waste, Be Zero, Litterless and Zero Waste Nerd. There’s so much information out there and so many accessible ideas on ways to get started. I think people should focus on progress, not perfection. Pick one area to reduce plastic and see how that goes, celebrate the successes and don’t get hung up on the time you use single use plastic, it’s hard to avoid! Like anything else, it comes with practice.
Earth Day is this coming Sunday, April 22! To curb your plastic waste for Earth Day and every day, try out one of Plaine Products’s bath essentials. Or order them travel sized for your next vacation. This Earth Day, there will be a site-wide sale from April 20th to April 22nd, where all Plaine Products will be 22% off with the discount earthday at checkout.
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