Kyle Parsons had a singular experience that altered the course of his life. Whilst surfing during a dream vacation to Bali, he paddled into a plastic bag. He flicked it off. He noticed a discarded M+M’s bag over there, and a lost flip flop over there. Something should be done, he thought. Upon arriving home to San Francisco, he noticed beaches there weren’t quite as bad as Bali, but discarded single-use plastics were washing up along the shoreline because they were a part of our oceans. Fish consume the ocean’s plastic incidentally, and we consume fish. Bottom line, plastic is, “in our bloodstreams,” he says.
And there are other single-use products that are equally bad. Tires for instance. Nearly one billion of them end up in landfills, likely never to be used again. In an effort to curb the single-use phenomenon, Parsons founded Indosole – a company that makes footwear out of old tires. But, he says, there are numerous companies out there that are repurposing and upcycling post-consumer goods and designing new products: Shwood Sunglasses, Outerknown, Green Guru, Osom socks, Industry of All Nations, Mafia Bags, Bureo Skateboards, and Sustainable Surf are just a few he mentions in his TEDx Talk in Ubud, Bali.
But beyond these companies, and others, that are trying to change the name of the game from the post-consumer end, that is, with all of the trash and waste that is already in the world, Parsons leaves his audience with 3 steps to change consumer habits that would minimize frivolous waste:
1. Make a commitment to cutting out single-use items from your life:
Whether it’s plastic straws, plastic bags, water bottles, styrofoams, choose one and deny it for a month. Soon you’ll forget that you even needed it in the first place.
2. Choose businesses that offer progressive options:
Vote with your wallet. Make the money you spend (or the money you don’t spend) matter.
3. Be the example:
When others ask, it’s the first step toward active consumerism and a change in culture.