WITHOUT drastic worldwide action there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish by 2050, warned speakers at the 2016 World Economic Forum.
In just eight years there will be one ton of plastic for every three ton of fish, the forum heard.
Reducing, or better still eliminating, single use plastic was the dream of Onya founder Jon Brousson.
“It’s on ya,” was was his eureka moment in 2004 when he came up with a shopping bag that was lightweight, strong and compact – but also looked cool.
In 2014 new owner Hayley Clark, who used cornstarch plastic bags rather than petrochemical ones in her previous business, took up the cudgel.
“One garbage truck of plastic finds its way into the ocean every minute. It’s appalling,” she declares from her Willagee home.
Growing up in South Australia, where drink bottles can be returned for money, she can’t understand why WA won’t introduce the scheme, or its refusal to ban plastic shopping bags as advocated by Fremantle and Vincent councils:
“The lack of foresight from the [WA] government is astounding,” Ms Clark says.
Plastic breaks down into micro particles that enter the food chain: “Birds and fish are dying in the thousand with tummies full of plastic,” she says.
Grass roots action can make a difference, Ms Clark says:
“Climate change is more difficult, but plastic is preventable, it’s about people making individual choices…if we boycott companies they very quickly adapt…It takes consumer sentiment.”
Onya is doing its bit to keep plastic out of the oceans – the bags are made from recycled bottles, spun to a silky softness.
Printed with soy ink the company’s packaging is recycled and recyclable.
There are a variety of Onya bags, from shopping ones, to backpacks, and net ones for veggies at the supermarket.
The company also sell coffee cups, sandwich wraps and bisphenol A (BPA) free stainless steel water bottles.
Mr Brousson’s brother expanded Onya’s reach and they now have a presence in the UK, Spain, Portugal, the US and Brazil.
Less well known in WA, they’re popular in Queensland and South Australia.
Ms Clark is now looking at breaking into the high-end market.
“We couldn’t do without the grassroots, but it takes more than that. I have a foot in both camps, I love the eco side but I’m a realist in the corporate world.
“To make a change you can’t stay a mum and dad business.”
To find an Onya stockist go to onyalife.com/stockist.
by JENNY D’ANGER