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Meet Andrew LaCenere, Owner of Albatross Razors!

Meet Andrew LaCenere, Owner of Albatross Razors!

Andrew LaCenere is the CEO of Albatross Designs and the man behind one of our best sellers, our stainless steel safety razor.

We were curious to find out more about Andrew so asked him some questions about his company, mission and products.

What was your inspiration to start Albatross Designs and start up your Shave Shop?

Inspiration came in many forms, but the most important bit may have come from a sailing trip from Cabo back to LA.  It was 10 days long and we had very calm weather which provided me the opportunity to think deeply about Albatross.  It was here that I realized how a focused goal on, say, eliminating plastic from shaving becomes very meaningful when it succeeds.  Many people tend to dwell on the seemingly overwhelming nature of the whole (environmental) problem.  We want to break it all down into bite sized, easy steps and actions people can take that will also improve their life.

Can you tell our readers what the impact of disposable razors is on the environment?

Well, for example, 2 billion razors are thrown away each year in the US alone.  That's enough to wrap razors end-to-end around the world 6 times!  6 times, from only 1 country for only 1 year. To us that is a bit chilling really; how was this amount of waste ever ok?    

What's it like shaving with a double edged safety razor?

Amazing!  Truthfully part of the reason the razor was our first product is because it shaves so well. The shave is definitely an upgrade compared to plastic and cartridge razors, and the experience of shaving itself gets enhanced quite a lot by holding a real tool instead of what's about to become a piece of garbage.  

Can women use them too or are they mainly for men?

Women can, and definitely should, use them!  From Day 1 we've wanted to make the point that a good shaving razor is a good shaving razor very clear.  A lot of the plastic razor companies charge women more for basically the same thing, sometimes painted pink. About half of our sales are to women which is surprising to many people, but our razors work great for every shaving need so we weren't very shocked.

We also noticed that you have a Blade Take Back Program, what happens to the recycled blades? 

NB: Hong Kong does not currently recycle razor blades but Plastic-Free HK would be happy to return them back to Albatross Designs on your behalf. Please click here to find out more details.

We'd love if you could collect them in HK! Right now we still don't have the scale to reuse the steel regularly in our own products so instead we mainly work with an ethical recycler in California to reuse it.  What I really like about the Take Back Program is that  we accept any double edged shaving blades not just Albatross ones.  Our hope is to reuse all of this incredibly useful material at the highest level possible. 

We noticed that you have created the 'Trillion Pieces of Plastic' campaign. Can you tell us about this?

Sure.  Basically last summer I was doing some research in Grenada and was walking on what would have been my favorite beach on the island, but it was unfortunately covered in small plastic pieces. I had the thought that there are almost 8 billion people in the world and if only a small percentage of these people -- 1/8th -- committed to picking up 1,000 pieces of plastic in their lifetime, we'd have effectively prevented a trillion pieces of plastic from entering the ocean!  It's at once an insanely big goal, but also very attainable.  We don't really care about tracking the exact numbers:  the journey is the reward.  When you actively start picking up someone else's garbage, you quickly develop a deeper perspective regarding your own waste and consumption.

How can our community in Hong Kong get involved?

Well, we'd firstly love you to help spread the idea to all your friends: 1 Billion people X 1,000 pieces of plastic litter in their lifetime = 1 trillion pieces of plastic effectively kept out of the ocean.  There are also many organizations that have, say, organized beach and park cleanups that are great for helping people get started.  The first piece of trash picked up as you walk down a city street is the hardest.  It only keeps getting easier from there!

What's next for you and your team?

We hope lots!  We are certainly continuing our push to eliminate plastic from shaving, and there is still a great deal to do on that front.  We are also helping to start a San Francisco based natural sailing apparel company, OCEAN SF, which is primarily focused on eliminating polyester fleece from the outdoor industry.  Every time a polyester fleece jacket is washed it can pollute up to 250,000 plastic microfibers into the water system-- a huge problem already that isn't even totally quantified yet.  

We also have a few energy and water saving projects in the pipeline focused on homes and other buildings.  As a design company we want to design lots of cool products, but always try to remain focused and not get spread too thin.  

Visit Albatross Designs’ website HERE

Purchase the Double-Edged Safety Razor (2 styles to choose from) and Replacement Blades HERE

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5 Easy Changes For Plastic Free July

 

Plastic Free July has grown from a handful of participants in Western Australia in 2011, to millions of participants across more than 150 countries worldwide today.
 
This incredible transformation has led them to become an independent, not-for-profit charitable foundation and their vision is a world without plastic waste. 

By encouraging people to be more aware of their plastic use, and supporting behaviour change during the month of July every year, hopefully this dream will become more of a reality.

It might seem overwhelming to think of living 100% plastic free, but any small change you can make matters.  Read below to see 5 easy changes everyone can make without any stress!

1. CLEANING: Make your own household cleaners in a glass spray bottle.  These highly durable, refillable 16 oz glass spray bottles make it easy to replace wasteful store-bought chemical cleaners with all-natural, non-toxic homemade cleaners you make at home.

Simply choose a recipe, add ingredients to the fill lines on the bottle, shake, and you're ready to clean!

 

 

2. KITCHEN: Replace your disposable plastic zip lock bags with silicone storage bags.  Long-lasting, useful and so versatile, you'll never need to visit the zip-lock aisle in the grocery store again.  And think about all of that plastic saved from the landfill!

 

3.  EATING:  Bring along a reusable bamboo cutlery set for food on the go. How about a bamboo utensil set to round out the perfect toolkit for life on the go? A handy carabiner on the back lets you clip and carry a fork, knife, spoon and chopsticks wherever you may roam. Perfect for a busy lifestyle and our precious planet. 

 

4.  BAGS:  Always carry a reusable bag with you while you're out and about.  This tote is my new favorite PFHK product!  It is so versatile and can carry lots of weight, and of course eliminates the need for disposable plastic bags.  From the grocery to the beach, I always find I'm reaching for it while I'm out and about.

 

5.  BATHROOM: Stainless steel safety razor instead of plastic, disposable one. Over 2 billion disposable plastic razors are thrown out each year in the U.S. alone.  That's enough to wrap around the Earth end-to-end 6 times!  Let's return to the good old days of safety razors and eliminate the need for this type of plastic waste.

 

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From Our E-Shelves: Top 5 Father's Day Gift Ideas

In our home, we try to live as minimally as possible.  And when we do buy things, we ask ourselves "Is it useful?"  and/or "Does it bring us pleasure/etc?".  We don't want things clogging our home that don't serve a purpose or bring us joy.

So when the holidays arrive and days of gift giving occur, sometimes it can be difficult to think of ideas because we feel like we have everything we need!  (and what a blessing that is!)  So we thought we'd put together a short list of possible ideas for your dad, husband, brother, son that could show your love, sustainably! 

1.  Teakwood S'well Bottle  $290

 

2.  Brass Wire BBQ Brush  $200

 

3.  Zero Waste Shaving Kit  $415

 

4.  Three-In-One Lunchbox  $275

 

5.  Reusable Coffee Cup  $100

 

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Get to Know ZuBlue Ltd: Merging Scuba Diving with Sustainability

Get to Know ZuBlue Ltd: Merging Scuba Diving with Sustainability

We recently learnt about a new startup business - ZuBlu Ltd - who’s co-founder, Adam Broadbent, lives in Sai Kung, Hong Kong. The company launched a new dive travel platform that provides SCUBA divers with a simple yet intuitive way to discover exciting dive experiences across Asia. The website marries a powerful search tool with an exciting range of dive destinations and eco-friendly resorts, putting the power of discovery and choice into the hands of ZuBlu’s guests.

The company describes itself as “A new dive travel platform that puts the power of discovery and choice into the hands of its guests. With its unique species search tool, up-to-date and accurate information and a commitment to conserving the marine environment, ZuBlu aims to become the leading dive travel agency for destinations in Asia and create positive change in the destinations featured on the ZuBlu platform.”

ZuBlu ensures conservation and sustainability are at the heart of its business. Each resort listing displays an ‘at-a-glance’ summary of sustainable practices, as well as information about conservation activities. And as part of its commitment to the environment, ZuBlu donates a percentage of revenue to local conservation organisations. “By linking conservation and dive travel, we believe ZuBlu can make a significant positive impact in the destinations we feature. We place the emphasis on sustainability and conservation, helping our guests to make a more informed choice about where they should travel,” said Matthew Oldfield, ZuBlu co-founder.

ZuBlu’s platform is built around a unique search tool designed to match a guest’s preferences with an ideal destination. Adam Broadbent, ZuBlu co-founder, said “the concept of the ZuBlu platform arose from a desire to give guests the ability to easily discover new destinations and experiences. We take their choices - what species they would like to see and when they would like to travel - and match them with the most suitable destinations. If our guests want to dive with whale sharks, ZuBlu can help get them to the right place at the right time.”

Divers as a whole are very sensitive to changes and problem in the marine environment - particularly the extremely obvious issue of plastic waste in the water - and although there are many dive resorts and operators that are trying to do what they can to reduce their environmental footprint, and incorporate more sustainable practices into their business models, there is actually very little information out there about what is going on. ZuBlu aims to fill this gap by highlighting what different resorts are actually doing and thus giving guests the ability to vote with the wallets - if you want to help support a more sustainable dive travel industry, book your dive trip to a resort that is doing something for the environment by removing plastic straws or plastic water bottles from their resort for example. Every little bit helps and diving travellers can now do what they can to ensure their travels as sustainable as possible.

Currently the ZuBlu platform features dive destinations in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and the Maldives, with new destinations being unveiled in the coming months. The company works with a carefully chosen selection of partner resorts and dive operators, all with high standards of customer service, established safety records and a commitment to the environment. ZuBlu has also partnered with the Manta Trust, the world’s leading manta ray conservation organisation and offers citizen science expeditions in the Maldives and Indonesia.

To discover and book your next underwater adventure in Asia, visit www.zubludiving.com 

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Bans, Taxes, and Fees: The Politics of Plastic Bags

Bans, Taxes, and Fees: The Politics of Plastic Bags

It has become common practice around the world to use disposable plastic bags to assist us in our every day lives. Out of mere convenience and utility, the plastic bag has become a go-to resource for in-store purchases, big or small. However, in light of current of research pointing to the environmental impacts of plastic bags, many cities, states, and countries have sought to change this through regulation and legislation.

Impacts

According to the Earth Policy Institute, 1 trillion plastic bags are used worldwide each year. For every 100 billion plastic bags being made, 12 million barrels of crude oil are being allocated to their production. Equivocally, a car could drive for one mile on the energy required to produce 12 plastic bags. 

And most of these are not being recycled. Instead, they are ending up in lakes and oceans, on beaches, in landfills, and even in our own food chain. This is because rather than breaking down over time, they are simply breaking into smaller and smaller pieces.

Legislation Around the World

Due to the mounting environmental concerns, legislation is being passed across the globe to mitigate the manufacture and use of disposable plastic bags. The first plastic bag law went into effect in Denmark in 1993, which implemented a tax on the use of plastic bags. Ireland introduced the Bag Tax in 2002, reducing plastic bag use by 90 percent. 

Bangladesh became the first country to outright ban thin plastic bags in 2002 after two major floods in 1989 and 1998, which were magnified due to plastic bag waste blocking drains and sewers. 

China began enforcing plastic bag bans and regulations in 2008, just before hosting the 2008 Summer Olympics. This eventually caused their largest plastic bag factory to shut down. 

Other countries that have enacted regulations on plastic bags include Kenya, the Phillippines, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, and more. 

Legislation in the U.S.

As of 2016, legislation regarding plastic bag bans spanned 23 states and included 77 bills. Notable city-wide bans are now enforced in Austin, Chicago, Seattle, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

In 2014, California became the first U.S. state to ban disposable plastic bags statewide. Since then, a de facto statewide ban on plastic bags has been enforced in Hawaii, and the District of Columbia has passed a law banning the distribution of disposable, non-recyclable plastic bags. 

However, many states in the U.S. have passed legislation prohibiting regulations on disposable plastic bags. Preemptive legislation that prevents cities, towns, or counties from regulating the sale and distribution of plastic bags is enforced in nine different U.S. states, including Arizona, Michigan, Florida, and Wisconsin. 

What you can do

The ban on disposable plastic bag use is gaining momentum and there are many ways you can contribute to this movement. 

The most effective way to impose change is by writing your state representative. It is the job of your legislators to pass laws based on the values of their constituents. Voice your opposition to disposable plastic bags directly to those who can enact change. 

In addition to directly contacting your representative, you can also make your voice heard through one of the many campaigns started to ban plastic bags, such as Greenpeace or Clean Up (The Project).

Sometimes the politics behind such a significant change can seem daunting. If you’re looking to promote change on a more local level, contact your local grocer to express your concern.

And finally, bring your own bag! By bringing your own bag to the store with you, you are easily able to say “No, thank you,” to plastic disposable bags when offered. Just because they are not legally banned in your city or state, doesn’t mean you have to use them.

 

About The Author

David Evans is the founder of prch, a resource for responsible consumers. He is a UCLA graduate with a degree in Environmental Studies and Geographic Information Systems and works in the crossover between tech and conservation. David’s mission is to help others improve their environmental and social impact.

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On Eating Plastic...

What did you have for lunch today? Did you bring it from home? Did you get takeaway, or maybe go to a restaurant? Plastics are an incredible material for packaging but have hidden yet severe consequences for our health. Plastics are man-made material, chemically-made, and we don’t yet know what repercussions it may have for the youth of today. One major problem is that of microplastics (small particles of plastics) entering our food system through fish. In 2016, “a study of anchovies caught in Tokyo Bay found that 80% had microplastic particles in their guts”, and these statistics are observed of commonly-eaten fish species worldwide.

http://tryforgood.com/plastic-impact-on-human-health/                             (http://tryforgood.com/plastic-impact-on-human-health/) 

Hong Kong has it bad, and it doesn’t make a big difference if you’re a fish-eater or not. According to Lisa Christensen, co-founder of HK Clean Up initiative, “the equivalent weight of two A380 Airbus planes is discarded in domestic waste” every day. One of the biggest problems is that recycling in Hong Kong is not mandatory; a mere 5% gets recycled. This is hazardous to our health as well as that of the planet; as “an extremely consumption-based society”, we generate (on average) “1.36kg (3lbs) of domestic waste per person, per day. Tokyo… only generates 0.77kg.” What happens is that “plastic wrapping leaks harmful chemicals into our food and bodies” According to Christensen, “It’s not just plastic bottles and pieces of Styrofoam that are threatening our marine wildlife, tiny microplastics contained in our toiletries, cosmetics and washing detergents are having hugely detrimental effects and making their way into our food chain.” So, some short tips for you to reduce your plastic consumption:


Tips:


I hope Hong Kong follows other countries like the US, Canada, and more recently, the UK, and bans microbeads in personal care items, as these get into our bodily systems and threaten our health. Every one of us has a role to play in reducing the amount of plastic we use, dispose of, and consume, and continuing when there is seemingly little consequence; those are the most crucial times. At a bar with friends? Ask for no straw. Getting take away from a store? Bring your own container (BPA-free, of course!)


Additional reading:

5 ways every Hongkonger can help reduce plastic waste volumes

How Plastic In The Ocean Is Contaminating Your Seafood

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Our Top Tips For Using a Safety Razor Successfully

Our Top Tips For Using a Safety Razor Successfully

Roughly 2 billion disposable plastic razors are thrown away every year and are rarely ever correctly recycled. Although safety razors were invented in 1904, plastic has become so cheap and convenient since then that disposable, single-use plastic razors have unfortunately become much more popular.

So, why use a double-edge safety razor? Let's take a look at all of the benefits:

  • It's 100% plastic-free and is for life!  After the initial purchase, blades need to be replaced somewhere between 3-12 uses depending on the brand and frequency of use, but purchasing the razor itself is a one-time purchase.
  • Safety razors are great for both genders, any and all parts of the body, and they are a similar style to the disposable razor that we are all so used to.
  • Besides being more environmentally-friendly, they also offer smoother, and less irritable shaves.
  • They are definitely way more affordable in the long run!

I would say the only thing that is difficult is learning how to use it. Let's look at the best tips for the best shave:

  • Hold the razor loosely and don't apply too much pressure.  The single biggest mistake made by newbies is applying too much pressure! This may hurt or irritate the skin, potentially causing ingrown hairs or nics/bleeding.
  • Prepare yourself. Use a pre-shave cleanser or exfoliant to clear away any grit, excess dead skin, and bacteria.
  • Hold the blade at a 30-degree angle to your skin.
  • Shave with lubrication on the skin. Either shave in the shower (hot steam = comfortable shave), briefly hold the razor under hot water, or wipe your body with a hot towel prior to shaving.
  • Use a shaving brush to create a thick, cushioning lather in your shaving soap. The denser the lather of your soap, the more effective it will be at lubricating and cushioning the razor against the skin. A shaving brush will also gently exfoliate the skin, removing dry cells which will make your skin softer and healthier.
  • Be careful not to repeat the same strokes over an area as this may cause razor burn and skin irritation.

Here is a very short (30 second) video guide of how to construct the safety razor, as well as how to use it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YtRtzaPTK28

If you’re still not convinced or want a second opinion, read this woman’s account of how she transferred to using safety razors over disposable ones, HERE.

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Can Plastic Truly Be Recycled?

Can Plastic Truly Be Recycled?

So can plastic truly be recycled?  Let's break it down, plain and simple...

Materials like metal, glass and paper can truly be recycled because they can be remade into the same form without needing any additional materials to do so. A recycled glass container can be continually remade into a glass container, over and over and over again, without ever needing new material and without ever needing to go to the landfill.

Plastic on the other hand, cannot be. The process of recycling plastic weakens it, so new, virgin plastic must be added to it in order to make the same form again. Essentially, plastic can be DOWN-cycled but not truly REcycled. For example, a recycled plastic water bottle can be down-cycled into teddy bear stuffing or a synthetic rug, but not into another water bottle without needing to add new plastic.  And eventually, this down cycled plastic will run it's lifecycle to the end and will end up in the landfill.

So now you can see why recycling is definitely not the answer.  Not much of plastic gets recycled anyways, and that which does, is destined one day to end up in the landfills or waterways.  So what is the answer???  Refusal!  Not using it at all, and instead, finding a truly sustainable alternative that can be reused, recycled or will biodegrade and return to the earth one day. 

And for Hong Kongers looking for glass recycling drop off points, check out this link:  http://www.glass-recycling.com.hk 

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How To: Zero-Waste Menstrual Cycle

Here at PFHK, we are so excited that zero-waste periods have increasingly become more and more popular, especially in these last few months.  And how do we know that they have?  Because our menstrual cups and reusable pads have increasingly become more and more in demand!  Hooray!

If you haven't made the leap yet, but are curious to learn more about ways to make your cycle completely waste-free, keep reading and check out Bianca's personal experiences below.  Thanks!

THE MENSTRUAL CUP: This product is perhaps the best invention I have come across in years. It has drastically changed both my life and the lives of some of my closest friends, for the better. I can definitely tell you that as a first-time user, it may take some time getting used to, but everyone is different and I can only speak from my own perspective. I'm not going to beat around the bush and avoid the negatives, but if you stick with me you'll understand why I adore it.

For me, it took about three cycles before I could say I knew what I was doing and was comfortable with it. The first two months I was still using pads because I was inserting the cup incorrectly (now I know the appropriate method). Also, it really hurt to remove the cup because I was attempting to pull it out as a whole cup without accurately squishing it into a smaller and more manageable shape. And similarly to using a tampon for the first time, it can feel awkward, but once you master it, its very easy to use.  

Additionally, I have become much more comfortable with my body and myself.  To be honest, it can be a very bloody experience, since the cup collects blood that you must then dump into a sink, down a drain, or into the toilet bowl, before reinserting for another couple of hours. But, after about seven months of use now, I am having no troubles with it whatsoever; I never wear pads or any other absorbents. Amazingly, the cup lasts longer than any pad or tampon I've used in the past.  The cups (depending on which size you buy) are meant to last between 8-12 hours without needing to be taken out. The one I use has, and will continue to, save me money, and of course reduce my plastic footprint! Here at PFHK, we sell the Lunette Cup.  After lots and lots of research, we feel confident that this is the best one on the market!  Check out our stock HERE.

REUSABLE PADS: Check out this online resource of different plastic-free pads (including ratings). At PFHK, our favorite line is GladRags, because they are 100% plastic-free using only natural materials and their products are comfortable and effective.  We currently have pantyliners, day pads and night pads in stock, which you can check out HERE.

ABSORBENT UNDERWEAR: Check out Thinx. I've never tried these but some of my friends have, and love it! I would recommend you read various reviews of them online, and buy only one pair to start with, if this is an option you think you want to explore.

TAMPONS: See Natracare or Sustain Natural, who, although do not make plastic-free female hygiene products, do make products that are both carcinogen-free and better for you and the environment! Sustain Natural is raved about by the likes of zero waste gurus such as Lauren Singer, from Trash is for Tossers.

Thanks so much for reading and please let us know if you have any questions or suggestions!

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Reusable Coffee Cups: Just Do It

Single-use disposable coffee cups are one of the most wasteful inventions of our time. In any given year, 58 billion paper cups are thrown into landfills by consumers in the U.S. alone! Yes, I said BILLION!  What’s more, 4 billion single-use coffee cups are thrown out by consumers of Starbucks every year! It takes 1 million trees to produce the paper for all those cups, and that’s without consideration of the energy and water needed, as well as the space in landfills to hold these disposable cups. A study done by the International Coffee Organisation (ICO) found that Hong Kong is the 17th largest market for tea, with 1.428 lbs drunk per capita per year. With this scale, we have to do better. Ocean Recovery Alliance “persuaded the Pacific Coffee chain to get on board with reducing plastic waste by launching a lid-return programme... Customers who bring back their coffee cup lids are given a free drink upgrade, while the plastic lids are sent for recycling.” Although a considerable improvement, what would be even better is reducing the number of disposable cups used. That is the goal of the new tax imposed on coffee cups in the U.K. Consumers will now have to pay more for using a disposable cup provided by coffee shops. Maybe something like that should be implemented in Hong Kong... 

But you know, there is a very simple, very easy solution to all of this - bring your own cup! All of our reusable coffee/tea cups here at Plastic-Free HK are sourced from the British reusable coffee cup company, Ecoffee Cup. According to their website, cups are made “with the world’s most sustainable crop – bamboo fibre”, and are BPA and phthalate free. Yay! I love this brand because their values align with mine, and their products are just awesome; you can choose from a variety of colours, sizes, and patterns, and there are even accessories. There is also a William Morris collection… be right back; I’m getting one of these! They do customisation and bespoke design for Universities and companies alike and are currently selling their cups at “1000 independent retail outlets, cafes and restaurants in the UK, Europe, Russia, South Africa and beyond” (including here in Hong Kong at PFHK)

You can see all of our reusable Ecoffee Cups currently in stock by visiting our website, and please feel free to use the below discount code for an extra 10% off our cups until the end of the month, or while supplies last!

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