Two Gloucester-based companies are partnering up to make a difference both on land and out at sea. 

Essex Soap Refill will be donating 10% of its profits to the local non-profit Seaside Sustainability as they both bring awareness to ongoing environmental issues by reducing the use of single-use plastics and encouraging environmentally-friendly habits. 

"It is a brand new collaboration and we are super excited," said Eric Magers, director of Seaside Sustainability. "Essex Soap is just wonderful. They are doing everything that we stand behind that is good for ... it is the triple bottom line. Good for the Earth, good for the economy, and good for people."

"We are aligning ourselves with companies that share our values," Magers said. "That is really important."

The collaboration was born out of similarities. Seaside Sustainability's focus on sustainable practices is echoed through Essex Soap Refill's main objective — to reduce the use of single-use plastics by offering a variety of cleaning products and reusable containers. 

Essex Soap Refill does not have storefront yet, but sells its products online at essexsoaprefill.com for pickup at The Mill in Essex or Breakwater Roasters in Gloucester, and soon at Grassy Roots in Wenham. Delivery is also available to Gloucester, Essex, Manchester, Beverly Farms, Hamilton and Wenham. Customers can supply their own containers or add containers to the order.

Essex Soap Refill founder Miriam Silva Preas started the business earlier this year when she saw the need for more sustainable practices on Cape Ann. 

"If you think of a typical day, and how much plastic you've used and thrown away in a single day you would be surprised to hear that collectively it results in about one garbage truck dumped into the ocean every minute," Silva Preas said. "Ice coffee, takeout containers, plastic utensils, straws, water bottles, cigarettes, candy wrappers, the list goes on and it all adds up."

By her calculations, plastic production worldwide has reached approximately 400 million tons per year — equivalent to 450 Olympic-size pools of plastic produced per day.

"At our current rate of plastic consumption, it is estimated that by 2050, just 30 years from now, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans," Silva Preas said. 

With all the plastic being produced, Silva Preas said current single-stream recycling practices make it difficult for recycling centers to operate profitably. 

"Food-contaminated and non-recyclable plastics are often mixed in with recyclable materials and it takes very little of this contamination to render an entire shipping container of recyclables un-recyclable, which means that it all ends up in a landfill, an incinerator, or in the ocean," she said. "Worse still, China is no longer willing to buy our recyclables. So what do we do now?"

Her solution: reducing the use of single-use plastics.

By creating a business that reuses bottles and sells environmentally-friendly products, Silva Preas is focused on reducing the use of single-use plastics, providing high-quality, natural-base ingredients, and supporting companies that conduct business in an environmentally aware manner that emphasizes reuse and recycling.

"I learned that Seaside Sustainability is doing programs for students that tackle the impact on ocean life, which is also my driving motivation," Silva Preas said. "It just made sense for me to connect with them and partner."

Education and collaboration will push the partnership between Seaside Sustainability and Essex Soap Refill to inspire local communities to practice sustainability, consumer responsibility and take action to protectand preserve the environment, a statement from both said. 

"Not only does a refill by Essex Soap Refill reduce plastic pollution, each refill purchase will also help solve its pollution problem through action and education provided by Seaside Sustainability," the release read. 

In addition to donating a percent of its profits to the non-profit, Essex Soap Refill will promoted the non-profit's events throughout the years to come. 

"It is all of our mission," Silva Preas said. "To provide solutions for people to reduce their waste and reuse and not throw away in a landfill."

Taylor Ann Bradford can be reached at 978-675-2705 or tbradford@gloucestertimes.com.

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