Years ago my partner, who was studying waste systems for his master’s thesis, did a waste audit. For one week, he meticulously identified and tracked the waste, including recycling, produced in our home. The results were eye-opening.
Plastic was everywhere. We were (and are) those slightly self-righteous environmental types that feel confident in our attempts to reduce our footprint. And still, plastic was tucked into every little corner of our existence.
As we all now know, every piece of plastic ever produced is still with us. It may be in tiny, microscopic bits, but it’s still here and it’s infiltrating everything from beer to arctic ice. This is, as they say, not good.
Plastic’s ubiquity, not to mention how handy it is, makes me all the more impressed with anyone who attempts to manufacture without it. Ditching plastic is not an easy path to follow.
Tale of the Future, founded by Kate Pietkiewicz in the UK, is attempting to do just that. Like so many of us who are coming to realize the unprecedented impact of plastics on our environment, Kate, felt compelled to reduce plastics in her life.
“I wanted to start a company and produce beautiful, handmade products with a modern look but I couldn’t give my heart to anything other than plastic-free and cruelty-free production.”
Despite many production experts assuring her that making backpacks without plastic was impossible, Kate traveled to India and Nepal, sourcing materials and skilled artisans that could produce her designs using natural materials like jute, cotton and bamboo.
Proving all of the nay-sayers wrong, Kate has done exactly what she set out to do: create plastic-free bags, backpacks and accessories using the skills and materials of the Himalayan regions.
Simple and sleek, TOTF designs draw inspiration from Japanese design, Asian architecture and the work of self-taught Japanese architect, Tedaw Ando. Each piece draws a connection from ancient traditions of handmade production to modern, minimalist design decisions. My personal favourite is the Black and White backpack with a laptop component padded with jute rather than plastic foam.
I asked Kate about the name of her brand. What exactly is a tale of the future? “It’s the story of our humanity. We’re making products that connect us to the cultures and traditions of handmade production and to the plastic-free future I hope we achieve.”
That is definitely a future I’m ready to invest in.
Publisher’s Note: Sarah Jean Harrison is a sustainability communications specialist at Peace Flag House, working with sustainable fashion and lifestyle brands. Her work has appeared in The Canadian Organic Farmer, Spin Off Magazine, FORWARD Fashion and Eco Warrior Princess.