We love bamboo as a sustainable material and we are therefore particularly excited to introduce you to Jamie, the co-founder of awesome @junglestraws and @jungleculture.eco that are designing the most eco-friendly and good looking products in a quest to reduce the amount of single-use plastic items we use.
It was Jamie’s realization of how much plastic enters our oceans that made him go searching for a life with purpose and one where he could have a positive impact - and it is fair to say that he is doing just that. His story and way of approaching our ability to create change are really inspiring, so enjoy reading his story in this Message In A Bottle interview.
WHO ARE YOU?
My name is Jamie and I am the co-founder of Jungle Straws @junglestraws and Jungle Culture @jungleculture, and we are an ethical brand that works with small farms and crafts workshops in Vietnam where we create and design a bunch of great eco-friendly products.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME AS ENVIRONMENTALLY AWARE AS YOU ARE TODAY?
I used to work in a pretty uninspiring job in London and although there was nothing particularly wrong with the job, it just didn’t fill me with a sense of pride or any kind of fulfillment. So I left that job in order to seek out something positive that I could do in the world and that’s when I started learning about the waste crisis and how pollution was affecting our oceans and it really upset me. I was finding my feet in the world and looking for a way where I could create positive change and also still support myself.
My business partner Chris was living a parallel life, trying to do the exact same thing, and we decided, after buying some eco-friendly products and checking them out that we would try and fix some of the problems. One of the big problems we had was when we bought a pack of reusable straws, we would always leave them at home and we would keep forgetting them and when we most needed them they wouldn’t be there. Because you can’t really take out a big bag of straws everywhere you go, so we wanted to fix that problem. We came up with the idea of making a smaller bag that just held one straw and brush that you could take out everywhere. We looked for a long time for farms in Vietnam, Indonesia, and China, and that’s how we got started. We found a great farm in Vietnam and we started producing bamboo straws, and that’s how I got started on this path of learning about ocean waste and pollution.
IN WHAT WAY ARE YOU BRINGING POSITIVE CHANGES TO YOUR COMMUNITY?
Initially, when we were out in Vietnam, we realized that there were all this potential and incredible resources and amazing suppliers and craftspeople that were creating all these natural products. However, they weren’t being seen by western audiences because other brands and companies would go directly to China because it's easier.
So, what we do to create positive change is we find suppliers that are overlooked by other companies and we invest in them and we create products in collaboration with them that allow them to build their business and attract attention from other companies as well. At the same time, the products we create are reducing waste in western countries. That’s how we use our company as a vehicle for positive change.
NAME ONE SMALL BUT POWERFUL CHANGE PEOPLE CAN MAKE
There are hundreds of small things you can do that will add up to have a big impact on the world. But I think the most important thing is to be aware and to be aware and completely mindful of what you are doing. When you make a purchasing decision, you are sending a signal or casting a vote to a decision-maker. For example, when you by avocados in packaging rather than unpackaged, you are telling decision-makers that’s what you are looking for, so the most important thing is to just be mindful of where you shop, what you buy because it does have an impact, it really does.
Other than that, there are some items that I use all the time, that can cut out so much waste in your life, these being:
- Jungle Culture safety razor
- Natural deodorant
- Bamboo toothbrush
- Nature Unite reusable water bottle
- Jungle Culture cutlery set
PLEASE SHARE A KEY RESOURCE THAT YOU LOOK TO FOR GUIDANCE
Back in the day when I had time, I didn’t really follow any specific bloggers, but what I used all the time was Pinterest. I think that Pinterest is an incredible resource for anyone looking for tips on how to upcycle things and how to turn old things into rustic looking cool furniture. I used to love reading articles about those sorts of things. They have articles about anything, you can make your own toothpaste, your own natural cleaning agent. Pinterest is so vast and so many different and really great bloggers use it, so I would definitely go there for resources and if you are looking for guidance on how to get closer to a zero-waste lifestyle.
Thank you for having me Nature Unite and thanks for your bottle. I will definitely be using this, and I will be your new brand ambassador. See you later!
MORE ABOUT JAMIE
Full name - Jamie Skinner
From - Hertfordshire
Main occupation - Bamboo Straw Baron
Favorite place in the world is - My heart lives in Lisbon, hopefully, my body will follow!
My favorite book right now is - I just read the kite runner and it was epic! I wish I could time travel to Afghanistan in the '70s.
I cannot live without - I could live without pizza, but I wouldn't like to.
My ocean spirit animal is - My ocean spirit animal is a turtle... I am calm most of the time, but I have been known to snap at provokers!
Three words that would describe me are - I'll use words that others have bestowed upon me: Vagabond, funny & Mowgli (Jungle book... my nickname when I was young)
My favorite thing about our oceans is - The feeling you get when you're snorkeling/diving somewhere amazing, turn a corner and there is an absolute rarity of a fish looking back at you!
First activity in the morning is - Every morning I read almost straight away... I can't concentrate on books at night.
One of my dreams in life is - I see myself driving from the Southernmost tip of South America to Mexico, a bit of a Che Guevara rip-off!
My go-to sustainable product is - It feels kind of advertisey to say my own product, but really I love my safety razor so much. Not just because of the environmental impact, but it has saved me an absolute fortune!
My bucket list includes - I would love to dive with great white sharks... I am so scared to do it, but one day!
I AM PASSIONATE ABOUT - Aside from creating sustainable products, I really think it's important for everyone to leave their homes behind and go see the world, at least once.
No hotel, no tour guide. Stay somewhere cheap and humble and explore on your own. When I was 18 I took a gap year and it filled me with perspective, toughened me up, and showed me that there are countless, exciting ways to spend a lifetime. It also taught me to appreciate diversity and to be charitable, because being born in the UK is a privilege and it is our duty to share that privilege.
Since then I have embraced travel and culture, and I haven't gone more than a few months without exiting my comfort zone. I am completely passionate about travel as an alternative education for anyone and everyone.