Ocean Heroes features stories of people from all around the world who deeply care about our nature, our health, and our planet's future. Down-to-earth people who decided to change the way they do laundry not because it's easier but because filtering microplastics is the right thing to do.
Richard is exploring the beauty of the UK from the comfort of his van. He’s constantly on the move, seeking the perfect biking spot. Richard is also the founder of Compo Closet, portable composting toilets. Before embarking on the van-life and founder/CEO journey, Richard worked in finance.
His is a wonderful story of how you can always forge a path more sustainable, regardless of what your background is. If you’d like to know more about how living in a van simplifies life and pushes you to be more sustainable, read on.
PlanetCare: Why have you decided to live sustainably?
Richard: At one point, I realised that nature is really a limited resource and that there are now 7 billion people depending on it. This means that everything you do that’s not sustainable, you have to multiply by seven billion to get the real impact on nature. In light of that I think that every little sustainable thing that you do, really does help.
PlanetCare: What do you do to lower your environmental impact?
Richard: I do little things to try to be more efficient; like boiling a pot of water with a lid on. I am also increasingly aware of the source of everything I consume. You know – where does my electricity come from? How was it generated? From a renewable source? And also, my clothes – where were they manufactured and who made them?
The same with food. I shop locally, avoid food that’s wrapped in plastic and so on. The UK is particularly bad at this and it really frustrates me. Why buy three peppers wrapped in plastic, when you can just buy three peppers?
One of the best things about living sustainably is the fact that it simplifies everything.Richard, founder of Compo Closet
Also, moving into a van really makes you realise you need to live more sustainably. It also shows you how important and easy it is. Gas is a finite resource in a van and you very quickly learn to boil a pot of water with a lid on. Electricity is finite, so you always make sure to turn the lights off. And every bit of excess packaging you buy is immediately in the way. With very limited space, you of course you don’t want that.
For me one of the best things about living sustainably is the fact that it simplifies everything and makes it easier for you. It’s not simple and boring. It’s simple and easy.
PlanetCare: How did you find out about the microplastics pollution problem?
Richard: I heard bits of information about microplastics problem in the news and online, but the real catalyst for me was the Blue Planet series on the BBC. I think that was a turning point in a lot of people's mind-sets. I definitely noticed more awareness and more changes immediately following that, which is a really great thing, seeing such a quick shift.
I think it's really amazing what power can a series like that or art have. Because you can read about things, but it’s sometimes difficult to put them into context or realise the scale of the problem. But seeing such amazing footage, falling in love with the ocean, really makes you want to change.
PlanetCare: What are you doing to stop microfiber pollution?
Richard: When we are traveling, we use a microfiber catching bag. Because we don’t use our own washing machine, that’s what we do. We've also became more aware of the clothes that we buy. It's really hard to buy non-synthetic clothes; everything seems to have something synthetic in it.
Unfortunately, I like a lot of outdoor sports and that tends to mean synthetic clothing. So that’s really hard, if not impossible, to avoid. But I am really pleased that there's actually a lot of new brands coming to the market with this miracle merino wool and natural fibers, so that's really promising.
As for the rest of my wardrobe, I am trying to buy more natural fibers now. And with all the blends out there, that’s not straightforward either, but I do my best to get the best available option that works for me.
And I also bought the PlanetCare microfiber filter. Because I don’t live in a house at the moment, I bought one for my parents. And, luckily for me, they thought that was a great gift, and were absolutely amazed when they saw a used cartridge and what it caught.
PlanetCare: Besides using a microfiber filter, what else is in your sustainable laundry routine?
Richard: I try to do as little laundry as possible, that’s the first thing really. I only do full loads. And I refill a bottle with liquid detergent in bulk stores. When I’ll have my own place again, I’ll opt for the subscription for detergent sheets. I think that’s ingenious.
I do my best to get the best available option that works for me.Richrad, founder of Compo Closet
PlanetCare: What's your advice for someone who is just starting to live sustainably?
Richard: I would say, don't feel like the little actions are insignificant; because if you do something unsustainable and multiply it by seven billion, you realize that the resources are really, really finite. And whenever you do a small good action, also multiply it by seven billion and look at the potential for positive change.
PlanetCare: Is there something else you'd like to say?
Richard: Try and encourage everybody in your network to be more sustainable. As consumers, we have a lot of power to really change the world for the better. And being sustainable isn't always the easiest choice, so share the products you like, share what you know, and help each other out. We're in it together.
Follow Richard and the 'Compo Closet' on Instagram at @compocloset
Photo credit: Richard and @compocloset