Elizabeth's sustainable products create a buzz
THE war on waste has recruited diligent soldiers with crusades against single-use plastics culminating in the successful push to remove plastic bags from our supermarkets.
Now, environmental conservationists are turning their focus to other sinister single-use plastics and micro plastics.
These throwaway plastic items such as straws, carry a particular burden for Australia with many people living close to coastal areas.
The result is millions of pieces of plastic plaguing our oceans, choking our waterways and killing more than 100,000 marine animals a year.
The movement has promoted change across many industries and is now inspiring a new wave of savvy entrepreneurs and small businesses looking to make a positive change.
Sustainable You & Me, based in Landsborough, has a regular stall at the Cotton Tree Markets and aims to reduce our impact on the environment through its range of products providing alternatives to everyday single-use items. The range features reusable mesh fruit-and-vegetable bags, stainless steel or anodised aluminium straws and re-useable beeswax sandwich wraps.
The business idea came to founder Elizabeth Harris in August last year.
Elizabeth was looking for a new career after 15 years as a teacher and librarian.
Sustainable alternatives had piqued her interest years ago: having three teenagers, she was shocked by how much waste her family was generating.
"We had all these plastic straws in the cupboard and I thought 'this is ridiculous: you use them for three minutes, then throw them away'," she said.
"Then I came across glass straws and they were brilliant."
That gave her the idea to start a company focused on reducing our carbon footprint as a community. So began Sustainable You & Me.
"I had started making my products out of my Landsborough home in August last year and had a friend with a stall at the Cotton Tree Markets," Elizabeth said.
"I was helping her set up and started to find out about the markets. I quite liked them because it's a lovely setting and a good mix of locals and tourists with a lot of handmade wares."
Not content with stopping at straws, Elizabeth developed a range of reusable sandwich wraps - Sanga Hugs: a sustainable replacement for plastic wrap that can last up to 100 years.
"Because of the beeswax, they're antibacterial so they keep leftover fruit and vegies like avocados and bananas better than conventional (plastic wrap)," she said.
"The wraps are waterproof inside and cotton on the outside and can be washed at the end of the day."
Lately, the release of her new DIY handmade beeswax sandwich wraps has created quite a buzz, giving customers the option to choose materials and colour schemes to make their own reusable wraps at home.
Her stall receives plenty of positive feedback with people often remarking her products are the way of the future.
"Even when they don't buy, people often say to me 'that's a good idea' or 'we'll all be using these soon'," she said.
Elizabeth said Coast residents had a keen interest in sustainable living because of our close relationship with the ocean and waterways around us, but local industries all needed to get on board to make a real difference.