Making Plastics Better For The Planet
LifeMade’s Sustainability Associate Jack Crocker tells us how things are changing in the plastics industry
This is the first in our series of Q&As with sustainability experts and advocates in their various arenas. We sat down with Jack Crocker, Sustainability Associate at LifeMade, to get to know him and his experience working on sustainability initiatives at LifeMade.
Q. Tell us more about you! What do you do, and how did you first get interested in sustainability?
I grew up in a household where conserving resources and recycling were particularly important, to the point where it became second nature for our family. What really spurred my passion for sustainability was a summer job I worked throughout high school where I was tasked with making frequent trips to the area’s landfills. Standing in the middle of an incredible heap of waste, surrounded by dump trucks and earth movers, I was overwhelmed and continue to be overcome with conviction that we can do better: we must do better. It is my belief that we were placed here to steward this planet well, and we all play a vital part in that!
Cleaning trash off state highways with the Adopt-A-Highway program.
Q. With regards to sustainability, what have you learned so far that has surprised you, or that you think most people aren't aware of?
There are two things that have stood out to me specifically regarding sustainability, both of which I was very surprised by when I encountered them. The first is the willingness and initiative of some of the nation’s and the world’s largest retailers to become more sustainable. The perfect example is Walmart, an organization LifeMade does a large amount of work with. Walmart has committed itself to fulfilling several key sustainability promises it has made ranging from general supply chain sustainability, to packaging sustainability, and to pushing its suppliers towards becoming more sustainable across all areas of their businesses. Walmart’s leadership as a globally renown retailer is exciting and incredibly encouraging, more retailers are inevitably soon to follow in their footsteps. The second thing that has surprised me is LifeMade’s willingness to change. This plastics industry that is traditionally very tightly aligned with the oil and gas industry, is known for its unsustainability and resistance to change. LifeMade, however, has shattered my expectations in their not only willingness, but in their initiative to be the change in the plastics industry. By investing in the research and development of bio-based plastics, LifeMade is committed to converting its entire portfolio of products to sustainable, fast-degrading, even biobased plastics where possible. This initiative has impressed me and energized me. It’s incredible to be a part of such a revolution.
Doing sustainability work for a plastics manufacturer almost sounds like an oxymoron, but working at LifeMade has shown me that players as large as LifeMade are working hard and fast at changing their ways and embracing what a more sustainable future has in store.
Q. What has been one of the most rewarding experiences you've had while working with LifeMade on sustainability?
Even within the short time I’ve been at LifeMade, I have already seen the company begin to step out into the public eye as not only the plastics manufacturer of the future, but also as a leader in community outreach in the industry. One of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences I have had at LifeMade was my opportunity to volunteer with Mill Village Farms, a charity in Greenville, SC that engages in growing fresh produce and selling it at heavily discounted prices to those who otherwise may not be able to afford freshly grown food, among others. Myself, and other LifeMade employees, helped package over 600 produce care packages that were promptly delivered to those in need in the Greenville area. LifeMade is committed to volunteering and financially supporting charities in our communities like Mill Village Farms.
Jack and other LifeMade employees volunteering at Mill Village Farms.
Q. What are some changes in your own lifestyle that you've adopted to be more environmentally conscious?
There are several lifestyle changes I have made and am continuing to work hard to make a habit of. The first and easiest is recycling! Recycling is the easiest way to become instantly more sustainable. The process of recycling diverts waste from landfills (awesome!) and when it is sold to manufacturers, it reduces demand for virgin products (extra awesome!). Another sustainable lifestyle choice I have made is to buy sustainable. It is very easy to disregard the environmental impact behind the products we purchase, but the reality is that everything we purchase was created at a cost. Your purchase is your vote: each time you purchase a product without considering its environmental impact, you are voting for a possibly environmentally devastating product. But the opposite is also true, if you do your research and purchase environmentally-friendly products, you are voting for those environmentally conscious products to continue to be manufactured. Those two simple lifestyle changes require a bit more research but are incredibly simple to do: they’ll contribute massively to a more sustainable future.
Q.Which LifeMade product is your personal favorite and why?
My personal favorite LifeMade product is the revolutionary Earth-Friendly 100% Home and Industrial Compostable plastic straw. This incredible product is fully compostable wherever you may do your composting. My favorite parts about the product are of course, the sustainability benefits it boasts: 100% Home and Industrially Compostable is absolutely incredible for a plastic straw to be able to claim. I also love that the product is completely bio-based, which means the plastic is not petroleum-based, thus breaking itself away from the oil and gas industry. The last amazing feature of the Earth-Friendly Straws that I find particularly great is the wilt-resistant nature of the material. Unlike traditional “eco-friendly” straws such as paper straws, these do not deteriorate in warm or cold beverages.
Jack Crocker is a Sustainability Associate at LifeMade, where he is helping usher in a new age in plastic manufacturing. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and expertise with us, Jack!
Life. Made Better.
LifeMade is all about making life better through sustainable innovation and product experiences. Every step we take in this direction brings us closer to our vision of a no-compromise future — one where everyone has access to disposable products that are as good for the earth as they are convenient and enjoyable to use. As pioneers in our industry with a century’s worth of experience, it’s our responsibility to harness what we do best — materials innovation and production — for a better world. We’re inspired by the families that enjoy our products and committed to meaningful change.