PLASTIC FREE LIFE: Word Gets Around – From Twyford to China, Wokingham to the USA…

With David Lamont from Plastic Free Home

David Lamont
David Lamont

It’s been a busy week or so. I attended a Reading Climate Action Network meeting and the next evening had the pleasure of a drink with Cllr Gregor Murray, Wokingham Borough Council’s Executive Member for Climate Emergency (an important week for him!), and his Town Council colleague, Daniel Hinton.

Our Facebook page achieved a monthly reach of 1 million for the first time and continues to grow, this week attracting engagement from the USA, Romania, Nigeria and New Zealand!

Oh, and the excellent group of people involved in Twyford Together too!

I have also been invited to speak to several local groups, including a Rainbows pack, agreed to a column in a local magazine and we stocked up at Maya’s Refillables in Woodley.

And finally, I’m in the process of launching a new website full of helpful information (more on that soon).

Somehow, there was also time to chat to Chris Forbes, Co-Founder of The Cheeky Panda.

Where did the idea for the company come from?

“From my wife, Julie. The concept of turning the world’s fastest growing plant into a product was easy to understand and after a year of planning we launched the Cheeky Panda in 2016. Today, 70% of our customer base comes from retail, the other 30% from businesses. We can be found at retailers including Boots, WH Smith, Amazon, Ocado, Aldi and Morrions and in over 1,000 independent stores in the UK.”

Summarise your range of products?
“We started with toilet tissue, which became popular very quickly. Consumers and suppliers became fans and asked us to offer more lines.  So the product range of toilet tissue, pocket tissues, facial tissues, kitchen towels, napkins, handtowels, handy wipes and baby wipes have all been driven by demand. Toilet tissue remains our best seller as customers tend to buy in bulk online.”

Where are you based and tell us about the supply chain?
“Everything we make is from 100% Bamboo. It grows best in China so that’s where we source from.  It’s important to note all our tissue products carry FSC accreditation, which means that the farming and manufacturing processes are audited to ensure they are ethical.”

Why Bamboo?
“Spruce trees take 12-15 years to harvest, while one acre of Bamboo produces 15 times more than an acre of trees. In a world of stretched resources it’s a much more sustainable solution than flushing away our forests. And Bamboo is a grass so it regrows from the root meaning that there is no soil erosion and no fertilisers are required, unlike trees which when cut from the root need to be removed and replanted.”

Is it bad news for Pandas?
“Pandas live in protected areas so you can’t use that Bamboo.  There are 1,000 different types of bamboo we don’t use the same Bamboo that Pandas eat. Tissue used in the UK is globally sourced, mainly from the forests of Scandinavia, North America and South America so all tissue has a significant carbon footprint.  Most of that comes from manufacturing so even recycled tissue has a carbon footprint.  As Bamboo grows quickly it produces more Oxygen and absorbs more Carbon so cradle to grave our footprint is the lowest in the industry.”

Why not recycled paper, commonly found in supermarkets?

“While recycled tissue doesn’t cut down trees, the bleaching and deinking chemicals used in production aren’t great for the environment or your skin.”

How does your brand to compare to competitors?
“It’s good to have a bit of competition as it raises awareness of the sector. I think the big difference is that we have a full product range and the products are available through a lot more channels.”

Visit www.thecheekypanda.co.uk for more information.

For more tips and advice, join the online group at www.facebook.com/plasticfreehomeuk

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