Call us on 01209 311 063

The Plastic Freegan

Alice Bird

Helping the planet with my little business, even it makes just a small difference, makes me excited and proud.

Alice Bird’s story

Growing up on a diet of microwave meals and chicken nuggets, Alice Bird was never really interested in food and cooking.

But becoming vegetarian as a teenager and teaching herself to cook at university soon ignited a passion, and Alice found she not only loved cooking, but she also developed an interest in the sources and origins of food and ingredients.

After researching more about food, diet and cooking in general, Alice uncovered information about how the production, manufacture and processing of certain foods not only makes them unhealthy, but also significantly impacts the environment.

“I was shocked at what I discovered,” recalls Alice. “It was at that point I decided to become vegan and do something positive to help the environment too.”

Simple steps, such as shopping at zero waste shops, buying seasonal produce and planning meals around what’s available without plastics, led Alice to eliminating around 95% of single-use plastics from her everyday life, and inspired her to encourage others to do the same.

“I was so excited about what I’d achieved so easily that I couldn’t wait to share it with friends, family and people at work, as it’s been such a journey for me,” says Alice.

“But I soon realised that I have the time for all that, while others may not. At home, it’s just me, my partner and the cat, so we can plan meals and go to various shops. Having a busy family life or working irregular or long shift patterns would make it much more difficult.”

Determined to find an accessible solution that would take the stress out of meal planning, encourage people to eat more sustainably-sourced healthy foods and reduce their use of plastic, Alice decided to develop a range of vegan plastic-free recipe kits, and The Plastic Freegan was born.

“Looking at the market and potential competitors like Hello Fresh, I realised that so many of them rely on plastics, which then becomes the consumer’s problem to dispose of. What makes things more difficult is that these days it’s not easy to determine what’s recyclable and what’s not,” says Alice.

“In a Plastic Freegan recipe kit, I wanted to package everything loose in a recyclable sturdy paper bag, with wet food in tins or biodegradable “plant plastic” pots made from sugar, so it’s much easier for consumers to just pop it all in their recycling when they’re finished.”

With her idea in place, Alice realised she needed some support to get her new business off the ground and approached Outset Cornwall after being recommended by Cornwall & Isles of Scilly Growth Hub.

“I knew I didn’t have a clue what I was doing, or where to start,” admits Alice. “Attending Outset’s sessions was ideal; it was all very beginner-friendly, I could fit it all around my day job and it gave me enough knowledge to get started and move forwards, plus lots to think about and plan.”

“Joining Outset and meeting others in my group online, who were all from my local area and in the exact same position as me, gave me the confidence and motivation to get started and keep going. Knowing I had Outset and the group’s support behind me made a huge difference, and it’s much better than trying to fathom it all out on your own.”

Offering a new kit menu each week, containing enough ingredients to make three dishes for two people, such as Aubergine Puttanesca, Hummus Pasta and Jambalaya, customers simply choose their kit, place their order online and it’s delivered the following Monday morning.

While Alice hand-delivers kits herself to customers in the Falmouth and Penryn areas only for the moment, she is trialling parcel delivery companies so that she can expand her service area into other parts of Cornwall and eventually across the UK.

“It’s very much a learning curve at the moment,” reflects Alice. “Making sure everything arrives intact, the branding looks great and it arrives on time; they’ve all been obstacles or set-backs I’ve had to overcome. But it’s all incredibly valuable, because I’m learning from it, and evaluating, adapting and improving my product and service as a result.”

“That’s just one of the many valuable things Outset has taught me. In fact, I don’t know where you could get an education like that without going back to college, which for most people is unrealistic. I feel very fortunate to live in Cornwall and have access to an amazing resource like Outset; I don’t know if I’d have managed to get started without it. If you live in Cornwall, it’s definitely something you should make the most of!”

To find out more about Alice’s business The Plastic Freegan, visit www.theplasticfreegan.co.uk

COVID-19 Update: We’re still here: find out how we’re supporting our clients by doing things differently