For lots of consumers, i.e. those born after the 1980’s, disposability is all they’ve ever known. But you don’t have to go much further back to a world in which the reuse of materials was still widespread. In my own childhood (late 70’s, early 80’s) I remember very well collecting bottles of ‘fizzy pop’ lemonade or cola (produced by a local manufacturer in the north-east) to take back to the shop and get the bottle deposit refund.
Going back even further to the 1950’s and 60’s and reuse of materials was really commonplace, the obvious thing to do. So how did it all start to change?
After the Second World War, huge plastics facilities in the USA, who had made a range of components for the war effort, started looking for a new market to sell to in peacetime. The obvious target was well-off consumers, middle-class Mums, who began to be bombarded with advertising messaging around the benefits of disposability. “The disposable age” began in earnest with big business actively persuading homeowners and consumers to ditch their recycle and reuse habits in favour of just “tossing it in the trash”.
This soon accelerated as more brands and big corporations caught on and by the end of the 1970’s the idea of reusing packaging had almost completely disappeared. We then entered the age of single use plastics, where global consumer packaging systems were totally transformed by cheap, lightweight plastic.
At Bower Collective we’ve crunched the data to establish that the average UK household generates around 210kg of plastic waste every year. In a country of 66 million people that works out at nearly 14 million tonnes of avoidable plastic waste coming out of our homes each year - a staggering number!
Our core mission is to transform the way in which people consume home and personal care products right across their household, to eliminate waste and create a more sustainable world. Our pioneering reuse and refill system is central to this mission.
I think we all recognise now that the Age of Disposability has had serious unintended consequences - we’ve all seen the footage of trashed Indonesian rivers, ruined Cornish beaches, dead whales with 80kg of plastic waste in their belly, the list goes on.
Please join us on our mission to eliminate waste - and in a way, go back to how our grandparents lived; respect resources, reuse and refill!