Marissa’s Ecobox, created by Marissa Trimble, 22, aims at helping people begin their movement toward becoming more sustainable by providing an easy and accessible starting point. Each box contains sustainable equivalents to everyday essentials, as well as some more unusual items. She invited me to her flat to talk about her products, running a business, and spreading her message at a time when its importance is increasing daily.
Marissa first began to think about becoming more sustainable around the time she started university. Documentaries like Cowspiracy and A Plastic Ocean prompted her to become vegetarian and to begin to look into using different products that were becoming more well known then and are even more familiar now, such as bamboo toothbrushes and straws. Her idea for the Ecobox started around a year ago and the products were chosen based on giving people “a bit of everything” – containing these more well-known products alongside more unfamiliar ones like the tea-strainer, her homemade soap, and tealights. “I wanted to include lesser-known products, ones that people might be less aware of the importance of using” she explains. She spent some months developing her idea before posting the products available on her Twitter and, in Marissa’s words, “it just blew up from there.” Since then she has created a successful Facebook page, and has begun to establish herself by travelling to different events, where she sets up a stall of her products, with business cards on hand too.
Being a young entrepreneur hasn’t come without its challenges, Marissa tells me. She recounts the arduous form-filling and tedious bureaucracy surrounding getting her handmade soaps officially safety-tested and certified – a process that took months – but she is laughing as she talks me through it, saying that although it’s been a steep learning curve, it’s been manageable and she’s always looking to expand. Inclusivity is evidently important to her as she tells me about her plans to start making a period related Ecobox; a kind of try-box with a variety of products so that people can find out what ones work best for them. She also hopes to bring out a cat-themed box to sit aside the dog-themed one already available.
Swapping out disposable plastic products for these more sustainable ones is a fundamental step on the journey to becoming more eco-friendly, but Marissa also emphasises the importance of change in other aspects of life. She talks about the importance of eating a plant-based diet. She spent last month participating in Veganuary and is continuing to cut down on animal products – the coffee we’re drinking even includes her home-made oat milk, but for her, it’s less about rigidity and more about balance, which is clearly salient as she says: “the science has shown us that eating plant-based is helpful, but you also need to be aware that you’re not just eating and drinking things like tofu or soy that have been shipped across the world, as that’s not exactly eco-friendly either.” She also raises the often-controversial subject of flying, saying; “We shouldn’t grudge people for taking occasional flights as much as celebrities, or people who own private jets, who fly places unnecessarily.” She believes it’s attitudes like this that are potentially harmful to the message that she is trying to promote. When public figures in positions of influence continue counter-productive habits like these it often leaves us as individuals feeling like any changes we make are futile, but for Marissa, the only way change can come is through mass action.
The seemingly immense tasks of reducing your carbon footprint and plastic consumption are daunting enough as they stand, and are only exacerbated by the reluctance of large corporations to participate in a movement for change. Until now the message and it’s urgency have been driven fiercely and predominantly by younger generations through the ‘Attenborough Effect’ and protests such as the school strike for the climate and Extinction Rebellion. Marissa makes it clear that she agrees that these large corporations are not doing enough. She states: “that’s why people do need to start making these small changes, to show the big companies what they want, rather than just taking what they’re supplied with. Companies are starting to do little bits but that’s not enough.” She is hopeful, however, that if anything these small gestures from large companies will help the message reach further into mainstream culture, leading more people to think about their choices which in turn will lead back to these bigger companies realising consumers don’t want to be saddled with this ‘plastic guilt,’ and that they want to live sustainably.
It is predominantly these people who feel discouraged by this enduring feeling of ‘plastic guilt,’ or people who don’t know where to start, that the Ecobox is aimed at. Marissa understands that it can be overwhelming to try and completely cut out plastic, saying that even she still struggles to be zero-waste, but her message is all about just doing what you personally can. The ethos of Marissa’s Ecobox is one of spreading awareness, and it’s evident how passionate she is about the cause as she speaks about it. Her final piece of advice was as follows: “Just start doing what you can, express the message that even if one person can’t change the world alone, their actions spread a message about the climate crisis and will encourage people to make small changes that will hopefully lead to big changes.”
[Isla Scott- she/her- @islaascott]