When the Queen of England becomes 'personally interested' in the problem your company is trying to solve, it’s both a shock and a much welcomed source of support. 

Queen Elizabeth has led many brave fights during her reign, but her most recent declaration of war on plastic – banning straws and bottles from the Royal estates – tackles the silent global enemy of the 21st Century head on: big plastic.

Her stance on this issue is an example of the leadership we need today. But to facilitate the change she and others are calling for there must be product innovations to usher in this new era. Can these problematic products, manufactured to last well beyond their useful life be redesigned? We believe we can. 

Virgin Unite, Ocean Unite, Loliware

Enter LOLIWARE. We have designed the world’s first hyper-compostable and edible cup and straw. We’ve coined this new category of product innovations derived from seaweed as Biodegr(edible), meaning they are edible and biodegradable and designed to disappear either through eating or composting.

When we co-founded LOLIWARE back in 2010 we wanted to challenge the widely accepted ‘built to last’ concept driving product design, because applying it to a consumer world,  increasingly oriented around disposable, single-use items is fundamentally flawed. 

We began to question the basic premise guiding product design. We knew that products had to evolve from this 1.0 way of thinking. We were observing incremental change, whereby inputs to products were becoming slightly more sustainable, but the products themselves were still being designed to last beyond their useful life.

Virgin Unite, Ocean Unite, Loliware

Reflecting on what radical change would look like, we realised the answer was at our fingertips, literally. The single-use plastic products we hold and use every day could be re-engineered and ‘designed to disappear.’ If something is only going to be used once, does it really need to be manufactured to last for centuries? The answer was a resounding NO.  

Why does this matter? As previous authors on this platform (like Melinda Watson) have detailed, the global plastic problem is compounding every year, making it important that we engineer disposable products from bio-based materials – and that they breakdown at the same rate as food (or simply dissolve in waterways without adverse effects to the environment or our health). LOLIWARE is reimagining a future with more efficient products – products that are both fit-for-purpose and are of course … fun. 

Virgin Unite, Ocean Unite, Loliware

As two women founders and SheEO’s, we focus on a long-term perspective and holistic approach to our business and its impact. This lens has helped us build a company poised to disrupt a US$65 billion market, while delighting customers and creating a positive environmental impact. Society is ushering in a new plastic-free era and the timing is perfect for LOLIWARE to provide better solutions for these communities.

It's important to note, we don’t want to change how people enjoy consuming the things they love; we consider our products to be seamless extensions of existing habits. Our thinking might be radical, but we’re not asking anyone to make radical changes to their lives. 

We engage communities at a deeper level, and – as evidenced by the reference to LOLISTRAW in Taiwan's recent plastic ban – this notion of joyful innovation not only increases public participation, but also encourages wide spread adoption of sustainable solutions. It's a win-win for the earth and the health of the people who inhabit it. 

We hope you’ll support our work and join LOLIWARE in replacing plastic forever. Learn more about LOLISTRAW on our Indiegogo page where you can pre-order the Straw of the Future – one that is designed to disappear.  Perhaps, going forward, when people say “don’t play with your food,” the Queen herself might disagree too!

- This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. 

This post is part of a series produced by Virgin Unite in partnership with Ocean Unite, an initiative to unite and activate powerful voices for ocean-conservation action.