It’s estimated that over 14 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean every year. In addition to injuring and killing marine life, plastic debris poses health risks to humans, and is a contributor to climate change. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to single-use plastic waste, companies like Pela (@pelacase) are making big efforts to reduce plastic debris in our oceans.
Pela makes phone cases and other products that are 100% biodegradable, which means they are decomposed by bacteria and living organisms in an effort to reduce waste. Pela’s cases are protective, durable, stylish, and best of all, sustainable.
After working as an environmental consultant for 8 years, Pela founder Jeremy Lang wanted to start his own company. Inspiration struck on a 2008 trip to Kauai where Lang noticed beautiful beaches littered with pieces of plastic. After researching how plastic from the ocean washes up onto shorelines, Lang started looking into plastic alternatives and applying them to iPhone cases, and Pela was born!
While the name “Pela” certainly rolls off the tongue, there is a lot of intention behind it. “‘Pela’ loosely translates into ‘peel’—like an apple peel—in Spanish,” Lang tells In The Know. “An apple peel protects the apple fruit, and it’s biodegradable and compostable and natural, so the Pela case protects the iPhone and it’s biodegradable and compostable.”
Not only are Pela’s products good for the environment, but their business model is too. “We always from day one wanted to be as environmentally and socially sustainable as possible, so [since] 2014 we [have been] a member of 1% For The Planet, and since that time—I’m really proud—we have donated close to $1 million to non-profits,” shares Lang.
More than a producer of compostable phone cases, Pela wants to shake up the entire waste industry. “We’re trying to think of ourselves as a waste innovation company,” Lang tells In The Know. “Our phone cases are home compostable [and] industrial compostable, but not every industrial composter will take it. So we were like, ‘What if we created a device that could help speed up the compost process?’”
That device is Lomi. Lomi is a kitchen appliance that turns food waste into dirt, allowing people to make their own compost at the push of a button. Lomi also breaks down Pela cases and other compostable products, allowing them to easily and quickly biodegrade into matter that can go to industrial composters.
But Lang doesn’t want people to stop at sustainable phone cases and home composting. “If everyone chooses a more sustainable option over a non-sustainable option, eventually those non-sustainable options either have to change or they’re gonna go out of business,” Lang tells In The Know. “Consumers do have a lot of power. Think about how you can make small changes in your life that lead to big changes.”
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