Yes it’s January, and with the New Year comes New Year’s resolutions. For many of us, being more environmentally aware will be among them – climate change has been deemed as one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century.
One person who’s already streets ahead in this respect is 11 year old Oskar Petersen, whose eco-business OSK Eco (which stands for Oceans, Seas, Kindness) sells alternatives to single use plastics – reusable stainless steel straws, bamboo cutlery sets, bamboo toothbrushes, stainless steel water bottles and organic cotton shopping bags.
So if you want to get 2020 off to a kinder start by minimising your environmental impact by reducing your waste from disposables, investing in an OSK Eco cutlery set would be a great first step.
It all started with a school project.. “Bickley Park’s Commotion in the Ocean”
Oskar says: “We learnt about all the harmful effects of plastic to marine life in the ocean, I saw images of animals really suffering so I came home and told my mum that we needed to do something about it. The school project really had an impact, and we started watching a few documentaries at home at the same time.”
Susie (Oskar’s Mum) says: “We got a book didn’t we, How to Give Up Plastic by Will McCallum, who’s the Head of Oceans at Greenpeace. It’s really good, he goes through each room in the house and goes through different things in each room and how you can make a simple swap. Another great book which we’ve read is What’s the Point of Being Green? by Jacqui Bailey.”
OSK Eco was born out of Oskar and his family’s making small changes and grew from there
Oskar says: “We had made a few simple swaps at home, starting with toothbrushes, and water bottles and wanted other people to do it as well. We wanted to do a competition at school so that my friends could win some [toothbrushes] but they were quite hard to get so I persuaded my mum and dad that we should manufacture them ourselves, I found some manufacturers by looking on the internet.”
Susie says: “It really all started with the toothbrushes, and escalated from there. They last for exactly the same time as a normal toothbrush but they can go in the garden compost when finished with. It takes just 6 months for them to break down in the compost as opposed to plastic toothbrushes which can take more than 400 years to break up into tiny pieces (and will never fully disappear).”
With the help of family and friends, they’ve done all their own branding
Susie says: “Oskar came up with the idea for the logo, with the turtle in the O for OSK, he knew how he wanted it to look – we went to People Per Hour to find a freelancer to help and Oskar spent his birthday money to bring it to life, I woke up one morning before a fair and he’d got up and created his own business cards already. Oskar’s school friend has an older sister (Dasha) in design school, she’s a bit more in tune than we are, she’s helped us to realise that consistency is key with branding and on the website.”
Oskar says: “About the photography – we do it all on our own, with a little help from Dasha. We went down to Folkstone to take the photographs, we really like the area and the weather was so nice last summer it was like being somewhere abroad.”
Oskar has been a massive influence in making positive changes at his school
Susie says: “It’s going well at school, they’ve really embraced it. They swapped their school branded plastic water bottle for a co-branded stainless steel one from Oskar’s range. All of the kids have bought Oskar’s products, the teachers now use reusable cups and the canteen has stopped using small plastic milk cartons which have all reduced plastic waste.”
Oskar says: “I’ve done Christmas fairs at school and everybody’s bought something, they’ve been looking at my website and they’ve made quite a few purchases, a lot of them have my toothbrushes and if it’s not toothbrushes they have the bottles, or cutlery pouches. I wrote a letter to my headmaster about starting an eco-committee, this is hopefully coming in the New Year.”
Oskar’s products are now being sold in Benugo and any profit he makes he wants to use for good
Susie says: “Benugo came across Oskar at a local fair.
We haven’t made much money so far because all the money taken Oskar has wanted to put back into the business to reinvest in new products to add to the stall, but if business takes off, we want to give something back.”
Through OSK Eco, Oskar’s aim is always to give back to eliminating the plastic problem
Oskar says: “Other companies make their life-money out of their business, I don’t really need to make much of a profit, so I don’t charge as much. When I do make a profit, I want to give it to charities and businesses like mine that help support the plastic problem.”
Susie says: “Oskar’s dream is to put money into research into funding alternatives to plastic, we’ve looked into marine conservation and tree planting, but it doesn’t solve the problem, it’s sticking plasters on holes that are already there. Ultimately, we want to remove the problem and we want to help fund people who are trying to do that – if the business goes well we want to put it back into good causes and research.”
Oskar believes certain influential figures are important for raising awareness
Oskar says: “David Attenborough and Greta Thunberg are really making a change, but companies are just saying yes well done that was a great speech, but they’re not doing anything.”
Susie says: “I think it’s the supermarkets isn’t it.”
Oskar says: “Yeah, they could really inspire people, if they make a change to packaging then everyone else will be able to make the change.”
Susie says: “That’s it, when people know it’s the right thing to do and then they go to the supermarket and they’re faced with a sea of plastic, it can actually be really hard for them to do anything differently. When they see our stall at the Christmas fair, people are happy to see we don’t use plastic and they want to be a part of that. If supermarkets start making changes it will be a lot easier for people, but it’s also nice that there’s lots of small independents coming back.”
OSK Eco think It’s important for people to learn that small changes are important
Susie says: “If everyone makes a small change – together we make a huge difference!”
And that now is the perfect time to implement them
Oskar says: “Don’t buy stuff that you don’t need, [you should] really think about what you buy. Buy reusable, but if you have to throw something away make sure it’s thrown away into the right place – that seems like a simple thing but it’s really important. Also, if something is broken, don’t just throw it away, try and fix it – it won’t only be good for the planet, it’ll be a fun thing to do on a weekend and good for your pocket as well.”
Susie says: “We’ve also been looking at things that are locally produced, it’s nice to look at things that are made locally and through this experience we’ve found many other independent people who run great small ethical businesses.”