Top tips from GoodFor on reducing plastic waste

James Denton is the founder of Auckland business GoodFor, which is tackling the plastic waste problem with its bulk buying stores that allow consumers to shop packaging free. With ecostore offering a refillery at the stores, we were keen to get his tips on reducing plastic waste. This is the first in a series of Q&As with sustainability leaders and personalities with a vision for less plastic waste and a better world.

What is your background and where does your personal passion for sustainability come from?

I graduated with an Accounting degree from Otago University but quickly realised after that accounting wasn't for me, so after a few years working and travelling around the world I got into my own business with the intention to do something positive with it. After a failed attempt at a digital website based around job recruitment, I moved into selling Taco's in Queenstown which was fun and successful, but after a year and a strong move towards vegetarianism and a very basic realisation that the world we live in is quickly turning into a overheated landfill, I turned my attention into something that would change people's behaviour in a sustainable direction long term and along came the idea for GoodFor.

What is the scale of the plastic waste problem you're trying to tackle through GoodFor?

The world's plastic waste problem cannot be comprehended. The amount of plastic being produced in comparison to what is, and can be recycled is a mismatch by 1000 to 1. GoodFor is not only providing a solution to the everyday consumer in a manner where they can instantly eliminate 50% of their household waste, we are also creating noise that other companies are picking up and acting on.

The plastic free aspect of GoodFor is the most obviously sustainable part of the business, but how else does it operate sustainably?

Yes, plastic waste reduction is where we are making the most impact but we try and approach sustainability from a holistic standpoint. Everything from the fact that we power our buildings through Ecotricity (100% renewables), we drive hybrid Vehicles (MINI Countryman plugin hybrids), and we plant a tree with every purchase combating deforestation. We are always looking to lower our footprint and we have a long way to go but thats what its all about, making a real effort!

How do you live sustainably in your own life?

Our family concentrates heavily on our waste footprint, nothing is purchased unnecessarily. We eat vegetarian which I think has so many benefits not only for the planet but for your own health and happiness. We would like to do a lot more in terms of direct community work but GoodFor is an 80 hour a week job and while that is growing we feel it is a great contribution to the community in itself.

What are your biggest tips to help people reduce plastic waste?

I think firstly, truly take a look at what plastic is and what it is doing to the world around you. Take this knowledge and have a bit of conviction in yourself to say that its time to cut out at least 50% of you and your families plastic consumption. The best way to do this is refuse everything that is unnecessary, like plastic water bottles, which I think are literally the dumbest thing in the world! Other things, like refusing straws, plastic bags, takeout containers etc are obvious. Then there is the fun stuff, creating a packageless pantry which can be done by shopping in stores like GoodFor. Implement these things into your life and you will feel awesome and you will be contributing to a solution that is very necessary.