When aiming to live as sustainably as possible, we must be mindful of the whole process behind the things we use, buy and consume. And that’s exactly what Alex & Alex, the power couple behind Yuhme, chose to do when they wanted to create a product that combined their passion for not only sport but also for the outdoors and giving back to people in need. They consciously thought out how their ethical water bottle, would be created, used and disposed in the most sustainable way possible.
HOW CAN A WATER BOTTLE BE SUSTAINABLE, MIGHT YOU ASK? WHAT EXACTLY MAKES A WATER BOTTLE SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE AND ECO-FRIENDLY WHILE ALSO BEING ECONOMICALLY VIABLE?
THE ANSWER: A WATER BOTTLE THAT PROVIDES AT LEAST 3 MONTHS OF CLEAN WATER TO SOMEONE IN THE CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC WHEN SOLD; A WATER BOTTLE THAT IS MADE FROM 100% SUGARCANE; A WATER BOTTLE THAT HAS BEEN MADE FREE FROM ALL TOXINS; AND A WATER BOTTLE WHICH HAS BEEN CAREFULLY AND CONSCIOUS DESIGNED AND PRODUCED TO HAVE THE SMALLEST CO2 FOOTPRINT AND THE GREENEST PRODUCT LIFE CYCLE. THE ANSWER, YUHME.
Project 3 P was lucky enough to chat to Alex & Alex, the founders of Yuhme, about their inspirations for starting an ethical business and the challenges they’ve faced through their journey. We also gained an insight into their sustainable practices and how they give back to both people and the planet.
WHY USE A YUHME WATER BOTTLE?
1. ECO-FRIENDLY MATERIAL (SUGARCANE)
Polyethylene is the most common type of plastic. It is primary used for packaging including plastic bags, and you guessed it, plastic water bottles. It is made from sourcing fossil raw materials such as cellulose, coal, natural gas, salt and crude oil. These raw materials produce stainless steel, aluminium, glass and oil-based plastics, which other bottles are made from and are all produced from finite resources. However, Yuhme water bottles are made from, what is known as, Green Polyethylene (PE). The Green PE used to make a Yuhme bottle is a plastic produced from ethanol sugarcane, a renewable raw material.
2. CLIMATE CHANGE
Climate change and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are by far one of the most urgent and challenging issues humanity faces today. As a way to take action against the effects of climate change, Yuhme has produced a water bottle with the lowest CO2 footprint on the market. The production processes of all materials requires an input of energy and because these processes are not 100% efficient there is always waste produced, mainly in the form of what we have come to know as greenhouse gases. GHG emissions, such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gases, have a production processes which is described as a positive CO2 output - meaning they release CO2 as a by-product of their manufacturing.
Although Green PE is not a perfect process and there are still are a number of impacts associated with its manufacturing, the Green PE used for Yuhme water bottles are made on a 100% zero waste production site. Green PE actually removes CO2 from the atmosphere as it is made from plants such as sugarcane, which use sequestration to capture and store CO2 from the atmosphere in order to grow. The sugarcane is then fermented and distilled, and the left over, called bagasse, is burnt and the by-product of steam is used to generate electricity. The bagasse is subsequently used to run the plant that produces the Green PE and the excess is fed back into the grid, meaning the process has a negative CO2 footprint. Cool, uh?
3. PLASTIC POLLUTION
Plastic pollution is a global issue that has gained some serious media attention over the last few years. And for good reason. Plastics become a huge problem for the environment, and the ocean, when leaked or littered. Single-use plastics, also known as disposable plastics, are commonly used for plastic packaging and include items intended to be used only once before they are thrown away. These single-use plastics are often ingested by turtles and dolphins who mistake them for food. But lucky for us, Yuhme water bottles are not only reusable, but they can also be fully recycled, in the same waste stream as traditional polyethylene.
4. TOXIC FREE
There is evidence to suggest that the toxic chemicals added during the manufacturing process of single-use plastic can not only be consumed when use these plastics, but they can also be transfer from animal tissue into the human food chain when ingested by species. These chemicals can have adverse effects on the human (and animal) liver, kidneys, lungs and reproductive systems and development. However, not to worry, Yuhme water bottles are free from Bisphenol A (BPA) and Phthalates - which are the most common chemicals found in the plastic products we see and use every day.
5. GIVING BACK
Not only are Yuhme water bottles produced under fair working conditions, but with every bottle sold, they also provide at least 3 months of clean water to someone in the Central African Republic. According to Water Aid, there is over 650 million people who lack access to safe water, with a further 2.3 billion who don't have access to adequate sanitation. The vast majority of these live in sub-Saharan Africa and the water crisis is just one of many issues facing the most neglected people on this planet.
Yuhme has partnered with Water for Good - an organisation who are committed to supplying the whole of the Central African Republic with water and do this through community education and engagement. Yuhme believes, just like Project 3 P, people must be given the necessary skills and information to be able to be independent and self-sustaining. Water for Good is a small organisation, focusing on only one country, meaning the donated money from Yuhme purchases goes a lot further and has a greater impact on the communities in need.
THE YUHME STORY:
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO START YUHME?
An urge to do something on our own terms, something that mattered and something that didn’t harm the environment. This urge became a lot stronger when I was pregnant with my second child and I got a feeling of “the world has it all wrong”, and I started to question “why do we have children just to hand them over to someone else and go back to a job we never liked in the first place?”.
WHERE DID YOUR PASSION FOR SUSTAINABILITY & ETHICAL BUSINESS COME FROM?
A lot of it came from my environment and being brought up in Sweden. When I was younger, my father started up a company that developed hardware and software to measure energy such as heat, cold water, electricity, gas - I took over the company when I was 29. I grew up with my father and the buildings of this company, so I was around these kind of issues from an early age.
WHAT DOES ‘YUHME’ MEAN & WHAT DOES THE NAME MEAN TO YOU?
Yuhme is an acronym for You, Us, Humanity, Me, Environment.
YOU’VE JUST LAUNCHED A NEW DESIGN, HUMANITY, WHAT WAS THE IN INSPIRATION BEHIND IT?
“WHEN WATER IS AS THICK AS BLOOD”
The Humanity design is inspired by our recent trip to the Central African Republic. We have seen first-hand the impact that access to clean water has on the local communities and families. We wanted to create a monochrome pattern, with the distinct colour of red (blood) wrapping around the bottle (water) - hence, water is as thick as blood. One of the biggest things that struck me during our trip was the astonishing community of people that work on the water issue, as well as what it does for the local communities. It really brings us together on a deeper level. Blood or water, we are all family. And together, we are Humanity.
WHAT DOES YOUR AVERAGE DAY LOOK LIKE? DO YOU HAVE A MORNING ROUTINE?
I normally wake up right before 6 AM, and start with a meditation, alone. The kids wake up around the same time and we then have a meditation together. Some morning we cuddle, have brekkie together, and then we’re off to pre-school and nursery. I normally then come home and work for a few hours before either go for a run or hitting the gym.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU’VE FACED SINCE STARTING YOUR OWN CONSCIOUS BUSINESS?
Gosh, there’s so many! To get the word out there and grow organically has been really hard. Also, not compromise on our values is another big challenge. As we give such a large portion away, we can’t reduce our price as much as some of our customers would like us to - but giving back wouldn’t be possible if we did. Self-doubt is another regular occurrence - which comes with being an entrepreneur, I believe. But for me, in particular, I find it hard with having a family to feed, but we feel so deeply and strongly about our mission and values, that it WILL and MUST work out.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE OF YUHME?
Keep growing! Providing more water for the people of the Central African Republic, fighting climate change, do more fun and inspiring collaborations, designs, and events. And who knows, we may even relocate the business to sunnier and warmer climate one day!
WHAT DOES THE WORLD ‘IMPACT’ MEAN TO YOU?
To me, and to Yuhme, it means that you do something that matters to someone else, and to not have a second agenda.
Thank you so much Lauren over at Project 3 P for this beautiful write-up. Make sure you read the original blog post here. And follow along with Lauren and all the wonderful content that she puts out on sustainability she can be found on: