With that in mind, our next story is with Ben, the founder behind the newly launch Adios Plastic which offers pet owners plastic-free alternatives to everyday products, including compostable poo bags. We spoke to Ben about the inspiration behind the brand and how he recently welcomed new arrival Luna, the 20-week-old golden retriever pup.
Tell us about your Luna and how she came into your life.
Luna is a golden retriever, she’s an adorable 20 week old puppy. Me and my wife Sadie have always wanted to get a dog, but we kept putting it off as we didn’t think we had the time or the space. After three years of trying for a baby, with multiple heartbreaks along the way, we made the decision to get a puppy. We had put our lives on hold for the last three years and thought it was time we started doing some things we had always planned for the future.
Golden retrievers make great family dogs, so when we do start our family, the kids will grow up with Luna and that will be amazing to experience. At the current time of writing, we have had Luna for 12 weeks and it’s been great. We have learnt so much and explored lots of new places. Luna loves our company and just being with us, which is an amazing feeling.
She loves to dig up grass in the garden and play with other dogs. She is very social and just enjoys being around other people and dogs.
Tell us about Adios Plastic and the inspiration behind it.
I originally had the idea for Adios Plastic about 18 months to two years before starting it. For nearly two years I procrastinated on the idea and came up with all the excuses in the world not to start it. On Christmas Eve 2018, I decided to take the leap and was contacting suppliers over Christmas. The fear of not doing it and not being able to bring a great product to market overtook my fear of taking action and the risks associated with it.
With a lot of help in early 2019 from friends and my wife, we came up with the concept and branding. I think a lot of people try to do everything in business themselves, and this can sometimes be their downfall. I am not the best designer in the world, or the most creative person, so I sought advice from people around me who excelled in this area. The original idea came from my love of animals and the environment. I wanted to launch a product in the pet sector and researched a lot of different products before settling on poo bags! Once I learned the advantages of poo bags made from cornstarch, I was obsessed with the idea.
What makes your bags so different to other eco-friendly bags out there?
The term ‘eco-friendly’ has been thrown around a lot in recent years, and it’s almost lost its meaning. There is no law behind what eco-friendly has to mean. This is a problem not just in the pet industry, but across many industries. Most ‘eco-friendly’ bags on the market are greenwashing customers into making them believe they are buying something which isn’t what they think it is.
Our poo bags are made 100% from plants, they contain no plastic whatsoever. They are certified compostable to breakdown in 3–6 months when composted. These are the major differences between other brands selling plastic bags and marketing them to be eco-friendly. Most other brands sell plastic bags that contain an EPI additive which helps them to break down. However, none of these brands explicitly include on their packaging how long this time frame is. They just claim that the additive breaks the bag down quicker. Well, if a plastic bag takes 500 years to break down, then how long is quicker? 400 years? 300 years? The science behind these oxo biodegradable bags is not widely supported and there has been a lot of media attention on such bags recently. You can find the articles on BBC website.
The second problem with these bags is that when they do eventually break down, they only break down into micro plastic, which is ingested by sealife and enters our food chains and water supplies. The long-term effects of humans eating and drinking microplastic is not widely known as it’s too early to say. Microplastic is responsible for killing over 100,000 marine animals a year.
How does your Luna fit into your general working day?
Having a puppy is something that we have had to fit into our lifestyle and we have made changes so that Luna gets maximum time with us and has a great life. I’ve always been a morning person, so getting up early with her is no issue. I take her out for her morning walk before heading into the office. Sadie will return home from work in the afternoon to take Luna out and then spend the rest of the day with her, and I’ll return in the evening and take her out on her evening walk.
Me and Sadie both run our own businesses, so we can be pretty flexible when needed, which helps a lot. We have started planning our weekends differently, exploring different dog-friendly places in Kent, which is great.
When you’re not working, where do you and your dog like to hang out?
We love the outdoors, we love nature and wildlife. We are so lucky where we live that we get to see many different animals on our walks. When we’re not out walking, we love to chill out in a pub garden (of a dog-friendly pub, of course!).
What essentials do you always have on you when heading out for a dog walk, and what do you carry them in?
This is still something that we are tweaking and playing around with. Luna loves puppy treats from Waggs, so these are a must. We use an old backpack to carry all her treats and toys in. She loves to gnaw on a nice juicy bone, so we always make sure we have one of these. Of course, we use our own doggy bags! We have a roll or two in the bag, and normally loose bags in random pockets of coats and jackets.
On a recent trip to a local pub, we found out she loves a good football, so we will no doubt buy her one soon to take on our trips.
What adventures do you and your dog have planned for the rest of the year?
We’re currently planning a trip down to Cornwall with my in-laws, which will be amazing! We’re planning to Airbnb it, and stay in a nice little cottage near the sea. We recently visited family near Bournemouth, near the New Forest and Luna absolutely loved it, so no doubt there will be another trip or three down there before the year is out.