Shilpi Chhotray – keep fighting the fight

* 5 min read

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Gillian acknowledges Shilpi Chhotray as a ‘sustainability pioneer’ for amplifying the requirement for a future free from plastic pollution and creating a brand based on the same principles.

 

 

I have to admit I don’t often publicly support ‘anti-plastic’ movements or organisations as I believe plastic is a fantastic material and, if used correctly and responsibly, it doesn’t have to harm our environment. That said, Shilpi Chhotray is doing a great job of not only communicating the problems of plastic pollution, but also the efforts that are happening globally in a bid to stop it. Shilpi is the Senior Communications Officer for the Break Free From Plastic movement. Launched in 2016, the global movement is all about a future free from plastic pollution. With almost 1,000 groups around the world they have created greater awareness of plastic pollution and are demanding an end to single-use plastics. Importantly they are also pushing for a long-term solution to the pollution caused by plastic.

Let’s look at some plastic facts:
  • Plastic does not decompose. This means that all plastic that has ever been produced and has ended up in the environment is still present there in one form or another
  • EU recycle on average 47% of plastic. This ranges significantly across the EU
  • Globally, between 9% (worst case) and 20% (best case) of plastic is recycled. With around 12% incinerated, the rest goes to landfill of some description
  • Over 300 million tonnes of plastic produced each year. Over 200 million tonnes ends up in landfill
  • 150 million tonnes used for single-use plastics, such as carrier bags, cup, straws, balloon sticks and coffee stirrers
  • At least 8 millions tonnes of plastic end up in our oceans every year

This doesn’t make good reading for anyone. With a background in ocean advocacy Shilpi now champions environmental protection and social justice for this very reason. She is passionate about the need for change and the impact we’re causing, especially with many areas around the world not having the infrastructures in place that many of us take for granted. Shilpi communicates the pollution challenges all the way through the lifecycle of packaging from production to end of life.

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Although I don’t disagree with the challenges we face, I do believe plastic has changed our lives and certainly provided us with the ability to improve healthcare, preserve products as well as enable travel.
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What I love about Shilpi is her passion and desire to spread the word and impact change and for that we could all take a leaf out of her book.

Not content to only communicate the plastic pollution challenges we face with Break Free From Plastic, Shilpi also founded the wild-seaweed skincare company with an ocean-first ethos, Samudra Skin & Sea. Samudra’s operational measures are grounded in conservation, a small amount of seaweed is hand-harvested (trimmed, not uprooted) from California. Its promise is ‘eco-luxe skincare that delivers glowing results while keeping our blue planet healthy’. Not only are the products eco-friendly but, it will be no surprise that, the packaging is plastic-free. Most of the products come in a beautiful glass jar, and reuse is strongly encouraged, and the transit boxes are all fully recyclable and compostable.

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There are many parallels between Break Free From Plastic and Samudra, it’s great to see that Shilpi has taken her passion for change and created a brand based on the same principles. My challenge with many ‘anti-plastic’ movements are that they are just not practical but with Samudra, Shilpi and the team have made it real.

At best, it’s incredibly hard to live plastic-free. You would need to have a lot of time on your hands to source all the products you want to buy without plastic, or you would need to make them. Obviously, this would extend to clothing, home furnishings whereby many products are made from plastic and travelling without using fossil fuels.

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Although I am a plastic supporter, I do understand Shilpi’s point of view and share her passion about the need to stop pollution. There is no denying that further information and communication is needed and for that, along with the creation of the eco-brand Samudra, Shilpi Chhotray is a sustainability pioneer. Her belief and knowledge is evident and she has dedicated herself to make a real difference.

We may not always be on the same side Shilpi however I truly admire your work and your passion, keep fighting the fight!

Key takeouts:
  • Words are easy: You need to practice what you preach
  • Collaboration: Bringing others on your journey will only strengthen your voice
  • Education: Requires data and desire for change to educate the world
  • Be brave: But don’t lose sight of the end goal
  • Passion: One person can make a difference

 

The Author: Gillian Garside-Wight - Sustainability Partner

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