No to “plastic insanity”

Even remote Pacific Island beaches are fouled with plastic waste. The appalling sight inspired Shay Lawrence to start her own sustainable products business (and become a GS1 member).

The beaches were encountered while Shay was working on super yachts in the Pacific. The business produces everyday items not made of plastic and designed to get New Zealanders thinking more about sustainable consumption. And the GS1 membership adds ease and efficiency to the sale of Shay’s stainless steel straws and goats hair brushes.

The straws and brushes are the first CaliWoods products – CaliWoods being the distinctive brand name for Shay’s West Auckland based business, aspiring towards social enterprise status. “Cali refers to California which was my final base before returning home to New Zealand, and ‘woods’ is just a reminder to work at being more sustainable,” she says.

During six years of global travel, the environmental sciences graduate couldn’t help but notice plastic junk strewn in streets, fields, forests and oceans. The final straw (forgive the pun) was on an otherwise pristine Pacific beach visited while a super yacht as a deckhand.  “I was thinking, ‘I could be one of the few human who’s ever stood on this piece of sand … and holy s**t there is plastic rubbish even lying here. This is absolutely insane’.”

The Caliwoods straws substitutes for plastic throw away items and are reusable foodgrade stainless steel sourced from a Chinese manufacturer. “Straws are associated with fun and drinking smoothies, cocktails etc … it’s a great way to engage people and encourage them to think about using less plastic and generating less waste,” Shay says.

Her brushes replace traditional nylon with goats hair, produced in Taiwan. Shay agonised about using Asian, not local, manufacturers to source her products. “I had to decide whether they would be cheaper and accessible to more people, or exclusive eco products only a few can afford. If the suppliers could uphold the standard I was looking forward, I decided it was better to make products more people would use and be inspired by.”

Caliwoods was launched in early 2017 and Shay plans its further developing as a social enterprise beyond today’s sustainable consumption message and monthly giving to two environmental causes.

She sells through the Caliwoods website (and through around 150 eco minded retailers around the country. Stock is distributed from Shay’s Kumeu warehouse near her west coast beach home. “GS1 guidance on how to allocate and store numbers to the products, and ensure my barcodes are right, has made the whole operation much more efficient”.

Buy from          
CaliWoods Limited NZBN 9429045956805
Story featured in SCAN Issue 45, June 2018