How to live a less wasteful life
Words of wisdom from an eco entrepreneur
Josh Howard believes in the power of small change. After years of feeling overwhelmed by what actions to take to help tackle climate change, the founder of dissolvable tablet hand soap company Single Use Ain’t Sexy had his ‘aha’ moment realising it’s the little things that have the biggest impact.
“I’ve always been passionate about the health of our planet but I haven’t always known how to make a difference. That part can feel overwhelming,’’ he says.
Feeling despondent about the huge amount of waste he was creating as an individual via single-use items and inspired by dissolvable tablet brands in the US Josh decided to embark on what he says has been a crazy journey of 2020.
“I started this business because I was so freaked out by how many single-use plastic bottles I was throwing away. I looked at my bin full of plastic junk and thought about the millions of other full bins across the world and figured I had to do something,’’ he says.
We recently caught up with Josh and chatted about everything from what it was like for him in lockdown in Melbourne to his sustainability inspirations.
You launched a start-up in what turned out to be a very strange year, what was it like?
Launching a business at any time is a mammoth undertaking. I think 2020 has forced us to be especially creative. This year most of us have been stuck at home, but psychologically we’ve been elsewhere too. Amongst the fear, paranoia, uncertainty, panic and disruption, we’ve enjoyed providing some levity and laughs with our fun sustainability brand. We have turned handwashing from a negative experience into a positive one, which has been no mean feat during a global pandemic.
You are based in Melbourne, where you were in lockdown? Do you think people’s concern for sustainability and the environment has become less of a priority?
That is an awesome question and something I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about. During the initial freak-out period in March and April, most people quite rightly prioritised dealing with COVID-19 over everything else. Once it became clear it was here to stay, we had to adapt to a new normal and figure out a way to reprioritise sustainability.
What’s been the hardest part so far about launching a start-up?
I’m an eternal optimist by nature, but having a start-up is bloody hard work. A good idea is one thing, but executing it well is a whole different ball game. While I’m making heaps of mistakes and learning along the way, I’ve never been happier or more energised!
What’s the best sustainable advice you have ever received?
Just start! Most of us feel like nothing we do is ever going to be impactful enough to make a difference. That just isn’t true. Small changes add up and if everyone does their part it can create substantial and sustained change.
Who do you look up to in the sustainability space? Any mentors, or like minded brands you aspire to be like?
I’ve always been obsessed with community beach cleaners – They are absolute legends! They’re just normal local people who care about their community and spend their Sundays picking up plastic straws and chip packets on the beach. They don’t want recognition, they just do the work. I really admire them and I love the grass roots nature of people making their community a greener place – sustainability starts at home.
What are some easy daily hacks you have for living a less wasteful life?
I’m a big eco-hacker, I’m always looking for quick and simple ways to be more sustainable. I use tea towels as glad wrap, silicon sandwich bags instead of plastic ones, carry my food in reusable Tupperware, drink out of my Swell bottle, use a bamboo toothbrush and have natural deodorant in biodegradable packaging. I also recycle my soft plastics at Coles, which makes me feel like a real eco-warrior…it’s the little things.