ANYTHING BUT PLASTIC
The founder of Anything But Plastic …and its voice. You'll notice many of the product descriptions are written in first-person, well, this is she, I mean, that's me!
…According to my original ‘about’ page back from when I first created this website in 2017: I’m just another whippersnapper trying to self-righteously change the world. After sleeping through a degree in Philosophy (sleeping disorder, not laziness!) and spending three years withering away working in outdoor pursuits shops, I am ready to bounce off in unknown directions, hopefully making this (ad)venture successful and inspiring enough to see some change. Most likely that change will be in myself, but let’s hope other environmentally conscious people can get something from this, and maybe I’ll even convince some of the ignorant and unwilling to take action against plastic pollution. I’ll let you know how it goes…*
*2022 update – I’m still here. What I’ve been up to since writing that bio is pretty much summed up in the below timeline of Anything But Plastic’s history.
An infographic depiction, concerning the formation of the company and its history thus far.
The idea for Anything But Plastic is formed in early 2017. Jenny admits her idea to others in March, and by April, the ball starts rolling, unbeknownst to her managers at the outdoors shop where she was currently working/staring into space plotting escape. In June, she quits her job *dramatic drumroll/cymbals clash/round of applause* to pursue her dream of making Anything But Plastic a reality.
By October, she is ready. The website is launched, it's all very exciting. Blue Planet 2 then airs on TV and the problem of plastic pollution goes mainstream. ...ABP hits the ground running.
Anything But Plastic's first market stall - Lichfield Christmas Market 2017.
By the end of November, ABP had its first 100 orders!
ABP starts off this year by becoming the UK distributor for Dental Lace (which was also our first product).
In January, ABP was featured in the Guardian, (click here to read) which made ABP feel proper and grown-up, despite being only a few months old. Shame about the typo in the headline though...
Jenny moves back to Glasgow at the end of January after having spent a few months back at her parent's house in Staffordshire to get ABP set up.
Other media appearances soon followed, with ABP being mentioned in the Daily Mail, a TV interview for ITV regional news, the John Beattie Show for BBC Radio Scotland and... Jenny brushed her teeth with a bamboo toothbrush on BBC Midlands today. (What a claim to fame!) It seemed like everyone wanted a piece and ABP rocketed off, much to Jenny's constant bewilderment.
In the spring, Jenny also got involved in Plastic Free Scotland and helped out with their campaign to convince supermarkets to reduce their plastic packaging.
In April, ABP had its 1000th order!
After living under constant threat from towers of cardboard boxes of stock falling on their heads, Jenny and her partner/very patient editor Lloyd (yes the reams of words I write are occasionally edited, believe it or not) move themselves and ABP into a bigger flat on Murano Street.
Loads of market stalls and events this year. Lots of optimism and high enthusiasm!
MCS event on Skye. Tara - centre, Jenny - is holding an ABP sign, come on, do I really need to point me out?
In March, Jenny met Tara Proud, the Volunteer and Community Engagement Manager for the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) in Scotland, at an event on Skye. Tara is brilliant, and she made Jenny a Sea Champion for the MCS, a volunteer role to represent MCS at events to help tell people about the amazing work they do to protect the UK's sea life and coastlines. (I wish I could do more of this volunteer work, but I help out Tara where I can, especially when it involves hanging out with Stuart the life-sized inflatable leatherback turtle.
Jenny and Stuart - MCS lifesize inflatable leatherback turtle.
It starts to get a bit too much work to handle for one person alone, so Team ABP is born!
Ella (long-time outdoors-shop-job friend and fellow eco-warrior) is the first to jump on board (suck it Tiso, yes I will steal your staff).
Christie is next to join the team, along with her dog pal Zak, who comes to work along with her, much to Jenny and Ella's delight.
Hannah jumps into Team ABP in autumn, followed by Nuria in December. Christie and Zak leave at the end of the year to go and to live the surf life in Newquay.
Zak - ABP's first in-work mascot.
Anything But Plastic's first birthday celebration! Team ABP from left to right = Christie, Jenny, Ella, Hannah.
Self-employment is really starting to drag as Jenny slowly falls into a bottomless pit of emails. Illness due to stress and burn-out sadly characterise the first 6 months of this year.
At the beginning of May, ABP has its 10,000th order!
5th of August - We move into the new office hooray!
Jenny's stress starts to ease off finally, as work and home life have been formally separated.
After helping ABP set up shop in our new office home, sadly, Claire leaves us in August for a full-time graduate job.
Building the new office - with help from Jenny's Mom and Dad (plus Fudge the dog) whilst Hannah and Claire kept the orders rolling out.
Nuria comes back in October. Sallie starts, does a fab job of analysing our first customer survey, but then gets full-time employment elsewhere and promptly leaves. (Doh.) Annie starts.
At the end of the year, Team ABP starts the long, paperwork ridden process of applying to become a B-Corp. If you are unfamiliar with the term - 'Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.' It's an independent audit that proves you are doing the good you say you are. This has long been an aim of Anything But Plastic and has the bonus of formalising some of the wishy-washiness that comes with running a small business with no bureaucratic system ready-made.
...Little did we know that we would still be working on attaining B-Corp status in 2021. Turns out, pandemics are not conducive to paperwork generation and system formalisation.
Jenny and her Mom at Lichfield Xmas market for the 3rd year in a row, our most successful market stall to date!
Claire starts in February. Nuria leaves temporarily to go work in Iceland for the summer. Iona (Ella's cousin - blatant nepotism) starts in May.
Jenny goes mad working from home in the flat and so in June, the hunt for an office starts in earnest.
Anything But Plastic's new home in Bellahouston Business Centre. Bespoke shelves and stand-up desk built by Jenny’s Dad. Team ABP from left to right = Iona, Claire, Hannah, Ella, Jenny.
In September, Jenny does her first 'talk' representing MCS with fellow Sea Champion Liz at a 'Glasgow Over Plastic' event before a showing of the film 'Albatross', which depicts the impact of plastic pollution on these seabirds.
Jenny and her friend Sara at 'The Great British Beach Clean' hosted by Tara from the Marine Conservation Society. September 2019.
ABP (Jenny and Ella) join in the global 'Climate Strike' march in September.
Ella, (having finished her Master's in Physio the year before) leaves ABP to work as an NHS physio. As Jenny's friend, first employee and number one confidant for all ABP related matters, this is a sad blow.
Hannah also leaves (sob) to go on a very exciting eco-travel adventure - hitchhiking by boat to sail to New Zealand! (Sadly, the Covid pandemic cuts her trip short, she gets to Costa Rica and is forced to fly home to the UK for lockdown.)
Nurdle collecting on the River Forth for the 'Great Nurdle Hunt' the weekend before lockdown started.
August - Iona, Nuria and Annie all start back part-part-time.
Milestone - 50,000 products sold through the website. This means that more than 50,000 pieces of plastic have been avoided!
The last event before lockdown - helping out the MCS stall in the Glasgow Science Centre
The pandemic months - a huge slowdown in orders leaves Jenny with no choice but to furlough Iona, Nuria and Annie. 5 lonely months for Jenny in the office. (Cue time-lapse of solitarily packing orders whilst 'All By Myself' plays in the background.) B-Corp certification is sadly, but necessarily, put on the backbench until Team ABP is restored to its former glory.
We start our 'Pass it on to pick it up' refer a friend scheme in September. ABP joins B1G1 to help give to environmental projects through our schemes and product sales. Three of ABP's products, ecoffee cups, the large single beeswax wrap and lunch/book bags are chosen as the first products to create a good impact for every product sold. For more info on this, see the impact page that we created for the website so that customers and supporters can see what good we've done (so far!).
Social media guru, Katie, is hired in November to take over ABP's waning social media presence. Jenny's aversion to social media has not helped matters. This is a delightful new arrangement.
Thanks to a gov bounce-back loan, lots of new products are added toward the end of this year. ABP has grown organically with no outside investment up until this point, so it's a bit scary…
ABP signs up to ‘Ecologi’ to create a 'carbon positive workforce' which offsets every member of staff's carbon footprint by planting trees (tree counter updated monthly) and providing funds for gold standard carbon reduction projects across the world. See here for more info.
2021... what happened exactly?
Bear with me whilst I try to remember.... I'll update this properly once I've figured out what we actually did last year.
As a quick update -
ABP moved from Glasgow to Sheffield in December. That was big news!
More info to follow.
ABP settled into its new home in Sheffield, with new team members Dean - 'Do you know what you are doing? ...You're doing well.' and Chloe - 'Shut up Dean!'
Unfortunately, the cost of living crisis takes its toll this year, resulting in Jenny having to give up the office and both staff members in October. These difficult decisions have to be taken to keep the business afloat. ABP shrinks back into a solo venture once again.
ABP is still here... if only just!
I hope you've enjoyed being part of our journey so far.
ABP couldn't have done it without our community of family, friends, customers and supporters who have helped us along the way.