Hello everyone - Welcome to My Eco Vita!
I am Cecilia, CEO and founder of My Eco Vita. I am a mum of three gorgeous boys who challenge my thinking and actions with their innocent questions and observations. My children are my constant reminder of the things that gives life meaning and things that are worth protecting. One of my biggest concerns is what will their future look like, and the future of their families. Our culture of consumerism has lead to the depletion of natural resources on an unsustainable scale and an unprecedented amount of waste being sent to landfill, and one of the biggest issues is single use plastic.
Research online shows some really startling statistics, for example New Zealand alone disposes around 252,000 tonnes of plastic to landfills every year and plastic can take anywhere from 20 - 1,000 years to degrade. The thing we forget when we throw things away is that there is no “away”. Once oil has been taken from the earth to make plastic, it can never be returned to its original state. Even with recycling, the quality of plastic limits the amount of times it can be reused and it will eventually become waste. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when looking at numbers like this and feel like a small fish in an ocean of problems. But, Anne Marie Bonneau, from The Zero Waste Chef, articulated it perfectly when she said “We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”
So I started thinking, what could I do? What small steps could I take to start my journey of sustainable living?
Some changes were easy, such as bringing reusable shopping bags to the supermarket, since this was going to be coming into law eventually, and bringing my own cup with me instead of taking takeaway cups for my coffee. A lot of the changes involved getting the family on board such as eating more fresh food to avoid packaging where possible, changing to soap bars instead of liquid soaps in a plastic pump bottle, and replacing plastic cling wrap for beeswax wraps and reusable containers. Some changes were harder, such as convincing my husband we needed to buy and electric car! With each step we took, we became more inspired, the family was completely on board and we worked as a team to discover new ways we could reduce our carbon footprint. We are not perfect, and that’s ok. There are many times where plastic is the only option. Try convincing 3 boys that they don’t need any toys that are made of, or are wrapped in plastic for Christmas!
But the point is to start somewhere. Start anywhere. Because every step on your journey counts.
The Creation of “My Vita Bag”
At this time I was completing my post graduate degree in business management when I received a scholarship from the University of Canterbury’s Centre for Entrepreneurship. I knew I wanted to create a product that solved one of the issues of plastic and one thing that really struck me was that, despite using reusable shopping bags for groceries, I was using up to 8 plastic produce bags every week. That’s when I decided to create My Vita Bag, a 100% organic cotton, 100% biodegradable produce bag to replace the single plastic. I spent almost a year researching ethical manufacturers, sourcing environmentally friendly materials and talking to businesses to see if there was a market for my product. It was by no means an easy task, I could have sourced much cheaper materials or bags from China, but that isn’t what I wanted My Vita Bag to be.
I took time to build relationships with ethical fair trade certified farmers and factories in India, who provide fair work opportunities for those in the local community. All of our packaging is plastic free as well and all shipments from India are delivered in plastic-free cartons.
The result was My Vita Bags. Mesh and muslin produce bags, which are GOTS certified, that are produced ethically and have a fully cyclical life-cycle, meaning at the end of their useful life they can be fully composted back into the earth without creating any toxins or harm to the environment.
Now My Vita Bags are stocked in a range of supermarkets and shops throughout New Zealand, as well as online and in the Riverside Market in Christchurch. We have also started a fundraising scheme for schools and other organisations so Kiwi kids, like my boys, can have the opportunity to sell an ethical product while they fundraise for their own cause. I believe that getting kids involved in building a sustainable future is essential. We need to teach them new habits and daily routines to look after their environment for their families in the future.
Journey to “My Eco Vita”
The goal is now to grow the business by providing more and more sustainable alternatives to single use plastic to give consumers more choice. We have taken on the name My Eco Vita to encompass the product range beyond bags. ‘Vita’ is Italian for ‘Life’, which is the focus of all we try to do with My Eco Vita. Life of communities, life below the sea and life on land.The range now includes a range of travel cups, marine grade stainless steel clothes pegs, travel cutlery and collapsible straws. I am also excited to say we also have new products in the pipeline and hope to continue to expand the range and find new ways to enable sustainable plastic free living for everyone.
I encourage everyone who has an idea or a dream to take a leap and believe in yourself. As they say nothing in life worth doing is ever easy.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story, I hope it inspires yours.
Sustainable cities and communities, thriving animals on land and below water. New Zealanders pioneering a purposeful and planet friendly lifestyle, for the earth, ourselves and our future generations.
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