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The Elephant Emporium’s zero waste story

30/01/2017 2:59 PM

How did you come up with the idea for the Elephant Emporium and get the business started? 
The Elephant Emporium was born from our love of travelling throughout South East Asia. We fell in love with not just the region but the people and the incredible products they made which we wanted to share back home. One of the emerging problems we saw while travelling in South East Asia was landfill due to excessive development, so we developed a recycled range that goes some of the way in addressing this. 

Image: Barton and Leonie Walsh at their stall at 1 Degree’s Zero Waste Expo, featuring their recycled product range

Were there any challenges at the start and how did you overcome them?

At the beginning the only real challenges were the language barriers and the limited knowledge of where to source the products from the artisans who hand make them together with the very strict Australian quarantine laws. Today, we now have very strong relationships with the makers and have picked up some handy language tips and now have a much greater understanding of the quarantine laws.

How do you integrate the principles of zero waste and sustainability into your products?

Our recycled range rescues cement and fish feed bags from landfills and transforms them into wallets, bags and other popular products. They are skillfully made from recycled cement and fish feed bags in Cambodia by our NGO groups that include victims of both land mines and domestic violence.

The majority of our product range is Fair Trade, ethically sourced and/or recycled. With any new product range or design we always consider what impact the product has had on the environment and how both the environment and the people that made it have benefited by recycling it. Within our daily operations, we have made simple changes like not using or offering plastic bags within our retail store or the various markets we attend and only provide recycled paper bags.

What’s up next for the Elephant Emporium, anything new coming up in 2017 that we should look out for?

For 2017, we want to be better, not bigger! Our aim is to continue offering both our loyal customer base and new supporters innovative and creative hand made recycled products that are sustainably sourced direct from our fabulous artisans. We also have some fantastic new colourful ‘patch’ designs in our recycled range!

What are your top 5 tips that everyone can take that will lead us to a zero waste future?

  • Take your own bags supermarket shopping
  • Always dispose your garbage in the relevant recycling bins i.e paper/cardboard & PET/glass separate to general household
  • Try and reduce buying PET bottles like spring water and replace with your own water bottle to refill
  • When buying your coffee from your favorite cafe in the morning, ask your Barista if the take away cups are made from recycled material, if not, ask why, or take your own cup
  • Get a worm farm at home and recycle all your household food waste to make great compost.
You can find the Elephant Emporium: