By Chere Di Boscio
We’ve all been there: at a fast food restaurant, ordering our soup or salad, getting served, and being directed to a station where there’s plastic cutlery, paper napkins and plastic straws. And I’m sure, if you’re like me, you’ve mentally face-palmed yourself wondering why you didn’t just bring your own from home to save on the pollution, right?
Friendly BobbiJo and Daphne were in exactly that situation too many times for their liking, and they decided to do something about it. They reckon the fast food industry is just too polluting, and they’re absolutely correct: it’s estimated that plastic pollution will increase from 396 million tons in 2018 to 550 million tons in 2025 and 681 million tons by 2030, according to the United Nations report State of Plastics.
Reduction of single use plastic items from “on-the-go” consumption is crucial to the timely elimination of plastic at the source before it is polluted to land, rivers and oceans. While schemes for improved waste management and recycling have been proposed, plastic pollution continues to enter the ocean at an estimated rate of one large dump truck every minute of every day of every year.
Unfortunately, we consumers are too accepting of this; we too readily grab plastic serving materials and and somehow feel justified afterwards when we throw them in the recycling bin. But guess what? The vast majority of plastic (even the stuff tossed into recycling bins) still ends up as landfill.
The solution? Well, we need to give up single use plastics, of course! And that’s exactly the behaviour DueBest is aiming to change.
I spoke to BobbiJo and Daphne about their new project, which is now on Kickstarter, below.
How DueBest Plans To End Plastic Cutlery
What was the catalyst for launching DueBest?
BM: In November of 2018, Daphne Sculac and I were with a few friends at a restaurant in NYC. Just before we began to eat, Daphne turned to her purse and almost ceremoniously opened a little envelope to reveal her very own set of chopsticks. We all sat there for the next hour discussing the concept of BYOC (Bring Your Own Cutlery).
The next day I called Daphne and said, “We need to do this, change starts here! Let’s design a unique cutlery set that’s convenient and easy for people to use everyday!” She immediately agreed and that was when Duebest was formed. We made a promise to each other, that together as business partners and friends, we would always simply do our best.
What’s up with the name?
DS: Our name Duebest, stems from the idea that we are all sharing a journey on this earth, so let’s take care of it together. If we can all head in the direction of doing our best, we can really make a difference. When we say “best” we mean doing all we can to live sustainably and make conscious choices within our means. We understand that sustainable living can be expensive and we are not here to guilt anyone. We simply want to remind people that taking small steps towards living a greener life can benefit us all and our environment.
Why did you decide wood instead of say, bamboo, was the most sustainable material possible?
DS: When setting out to design our cutlery set, we knew that whichever material we used had to be sourced sustainably. We decided on wood because it’s light-weight, easy to travel with, and durable. We began by sampling sets from all around the world. What we learned is that bamboo can mold and warp when exposed to excessive moisture. We also loved the idea of using coconut wood, but found that it was too brittle and broke easily when we tested it.
DS: When we received our first teak wood sample, it was by far the best quality we had found. Teak wood is known for its durability and has naturally occurring oils locked into its tight grain. This makes teak wood incredibly strong and weather-resistant. The durability of the wood was really important to us because we knew our sets had to be made to last. We loved the smooth texture, rich colors, and beautiful grain, making each set a unique work of craftsmanship. Each piece of cutlery is hand-carved by our artisans in Bali who sustainably source all of their wood through Indonesia’s Legal Timber Assurance System.
BM: While we felt strongly about how our wood was being sourced, we also understood the importance of working with partners who offered fair working conditions and wages. That’s why we decided to source our wood Fair Trade. After 9 months of researching we finally found our Fair Trade partners in Bali, Indonesia. There is something really special about working with skilled artisans. Using their hand-carved utensils gives a sense of real connection to the earth and the people that have taken their time to craft each piece.
Who is your target market, exactly?
BM: We created Duebest with everyone in mind. That being said, we understand that it can be extremely difficult to break old habits and make new lifestyle changes. Our goal is to reach audiences who are open to embracing positive change through eco-friendly options. We also aim to reach those who may not fully understand why sustainable living practices are so important. By offering them tips on living greener, we hope to encourage them to take small steps in a sustainable direction.
When do you expect people will use DueBest? At fast food restaurants? At home?
DS: We hope that our sets will become an everyday essential. Most of us never leave the house without our phone, keys or wallet. We want to add “cutlery and straw” to that daily checklist as well. There are so many times that we are handed a plastic utensil or straw. Whether it’s your favorite lunch time food truck, at your office, or even at a friend’s house party. I can’t tell you how many times my set has come in handy (no pun intended), but it’s almost daily. It’s also perfect for recreational activities such as camping, hiking, and any time you’re traveling!
Besides plastic cutlery, what other plastic problems are important, in your opinion?
DS: We understand that all plastic waste is an issue right now, but Duebest wants to start with a focus on single-use plastics. We believe that our efforts can make an impact by starting with plastics that get disposed after just ONE use. We’ve developed our reusable wooden cutlery set as an alternative to plastic utensils, but eventually we want to expand our product range to help eliminate ALL single-use plastics.
BM: We know that plastic straws are also a major issue and we’re happy to see that people are starting to ban them in places all over the world. Our plan is to further develop additional alternatives for other single-use plastic products such as sandwich bags, grocery bags, cups, water bottles, etc…Our goal is to continue to not only offer products that are alternatives to single-use products, but to also offer educational tips around living more sustainably.
Apart from never using plastic straws or cutlery, how do you reduce your own plastic consumption?
DS: We think it’s important to always stay conscious in our buying choices and to look for alternatives to plastic. Whether it’s at home or things you can bring with you on-the-go. Along with my Duebest cutlery set and glass straw, I never leave the house without a reusable water bottle and cloth bag for groceries. I’ve also made a point to shop at local farmers’ markets, which allows me to buy produce without plastic packaging!
BM: When we are home, there are sustainable practices we like to do such as using kitchen rags with homemade sanitizers, using water filters rather than buying plastic water bottles and using bars of soap!
BM: Another effort that contributes to eliminating waste is composting. Composting is a big one for us and is actually pretty easy to do. Most people don’t realize that once food and other biodegradable materials are sent to the landfill they no longer bio-degrade, as they are compressed and deoxidize. Fun fact: food in landfills actually release more carbon emissions into the environment than transport. Composting can also help us reduce the number of plastic garbage bags we are throwing away because we will accumulate less waste overall. There are much more tips that we plan to share with our Duebest community. Stay tuned and follow Duebest for more!
What’s your biggest hope for the company?
DS: Our biggest hope for the company is to facilitate lifestyle changes that will ultimately make the world a cleaner and healthier place. We want to shift fast consumer shopping in a positive direction that will significantly decrease waste. We want to offer resources and educate our community on how we can all become more eco-conscious and sustainable. If we can make a difference in our community, it’s our hope that, like a ripple, we can spread the love and awareness nationally then ultimately throughout the world.
We always encourage feedback from everyone in our community so we can continue to grow and offer products that help us all do our best.
Where can people buy a Duebest Cutlery Set?
Our reusable wooden cutlery sets are available for early delivery on Kickstarter, and we are also giving people the option to upgrade their set to include a glass straw. All proceeds of our Kickstarter will go to our first round of production! We’d like to thank all of you in advance for checking out our Kickstarter and reading about Dubest!