We had a chat with Evie Calder and Francesca Watson, the sisters behind Atlas&Ortus to learn more about their fight against single use plastics.
What tips do you have for people wanting to reduce the amount of single-use plastics that they get through?
It can seem overwhelming, but start by tackle the main four first; water bottles, disposable coffee cups, straws and plastic bags. Find yourself some plastic free replacements – or in the instance of straws, just say no.
Once you’ve tackled these, try to pay attention to and make a mental note of the single use plastics you use regularly – it might be cling film, shampoo bottles or plastic food packaging. Try to make small changes gradually, and find replacements or just go without; in this example, you can buy beeswax wraps, shampoo bars and loose fruit and vegetables.
It can be shocking once you consciously start to make an effort to avoid plastic – it’s absolutely everywhere. But as soon as you eliminate the ones you frequently use and have viable alternatives in place, it gets easier and you can begin to see how you can cut down.
Do you think your shared interest in sustainability developed during your childhood? Are your parents eco-conscious?
Our mum definitely had an influence in terms of us being conscious about things like natural and organic products, particularly in regards to health and beauty. She was always a big fan of the body shop, so from a young age we were always aware of ethical and eco-friendly alternatives. As we’ve got older, we’ve become much more conscious and appreciative of this. She’ll always have a natural remedy for something, and she’s very knowledgeable in this area. Because of this appreciation of the power of nature, we’ve come to really appreciate the environment and the natural world, which fuels our desire to help protect it for future generations.
Francesca, as a mother, protecting the planet for the sake of future generations has become even more important to you? What lessons are you planning to teach your son about sustainability as he grows?
I want being conscious of the environment and reducing our impact on the planet to become second nature to him. I believe that the message of respecting and caring for the Earth is best learned at a young age. I think being outside and learning about and respecting nature can be building blocks for leading a sustainable and eco-friendly existence, so playing in the woods and park collecting sticks, watching birds and looking at flowers, leaves and insects is essential for us. I think it is important for our children to realise we all have a duty to look after the Earth and for them choose for themselves to live as sustainable as possibly.
Your bamboo toothbrushes are 100 per cent biodegradable. How long would it take them to decompose?
The bare toothbrush handle can be composted in a commercial compost bin and will safely decompose within 6 months. If you are putting it in your own home compost bin, it will take longer and will depend on the conditions (such as temperature and moisture levels). You can speed up the process by breaking it up into smaller pieces before placing it in the compost bin.
Which are your favourite products in your range?
We love all of our products, but would have to say our coffee cups and the weekend bags are particular favourites. We both use our cups at home because it’s so nice drinking tea and coffee from a glass! And they’re great to have in the car if you’re off out.
We also love the weekend bags too – they’re the perfect size to take to the gym (or away for a few nights) – plus they have an amazing story behind them.
What is next for Atlas and Ortus? What can we get excited about?
We will soon be expanding our range to include even more stylish products that will help cut back on plastic waste, including more freeset bags, plus a few other limited editions. We’ll also be introducing our sustainability starter ‘kits’; grouped products sold as a bundle – which are perfect for people just starting on their sustainability journey, and they also make great gifts. We’re hoping to experiment with all types of kits, for the home, for out and about, and more gift bundles – watch this space!