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An Interview with Purple Turtle Co's Co-Founder: Jason Baldwin
Purple Turtle Co - Co-Founder Jason Baldwin

An Interview with Purple Turtle Co's Co-Founder: Jason Baldwin

This interview and article was written by guest author Indigo Moon, from 'All in Activism'.

Purple Turtle Co is a community-run project. Its aim is to educate, provide tools for those wanting to make positive change and collaborate with individuals and businesses. CEO and Co-Founder, Jason Baldwin, reveals why he started this inspiring organisation and how we can get involved.

How did the idea for Purple Turtle begin?

So, it’s a strange story. The idea of Purple Turtle first came to me back in late 2019, after I had fallen ill in hospital whilst living in New Zealand. During my stay I was shocked by the sheer amount of single-use plastic created by just one hospital ward throughout the day: the continuous emptying of medical waste bins, the mountains of mini body wash and shampoo bottles scattered across the showing rooms, and the single use food containers delivered to every patient three times a day. It was from this experience that I quickly realised that as a society, we have a serious problem with single-use waste. I mean, all you have to do is open the lid of your recycling bin each week and you’ll see visually how wasteful our lifestyles are.

As I had a lot of time to burn in hospital, I decided to pull out my laptop and go on a week-long journey of researching and educating myself about the facts of sustainability and waste. From a combination of what I had learnt, accompanied by my love for animals, nature and wildlife, I quickly decided that I wanted to put my skills to good use and make a real change to the way the world operates.

So I began planning. What would Purple Turtle Co focus on? How could we build an organisation that adds real value to the environmental and sustainability space? From asking myself these questions, the idea was simple. In order to make real change in society, we need to do three things. Firstly, educate society in order to make unconscious behaviours conscious, secondly, provide the tools to those who actively want to make changes, and finally, connect people and businesses together to collaborate on solving common problems. Alas, Purple Turtle Co started its journey.

What were your motivations for creating the organisation?

Personally, my motivations stemmed from my love of animals. As everyone can probably relate, it only takes a couple of episodes of a David Attenborough programme to realise we are all participating in the destruction of our planet, ultimately leading to serious impacts on wildlife and biodiversity. Plus, the idea of creating an organisation focused on something I was so passionate about, allows me to work each day without the feeling that I am even working. Is that not the goal for everyone in life?

What does your work encompass?

As Purple Turtle is powered by our community, my role in the organisation is solely to facilitate projects, ensure our core values are maintained in everything we do, and to lead the direction of the organisation. All the amazing work we do, including content creation, product design and research, all comes from the hard work and dedication of our community.

How do you approach your education outreach?

Knowledge is key. Without education, it is near impossible to change behaviours. So education through content creation is our most powerful tool in creating real change in society. Our content is currently all delivered digitally through our social media channels and website, as with the current global pandemic, people rely so heavily on getting their news and information from digital platforms.

Once we start to get back to some normality, the aim is to start investing more of our time and resources into events and local community projects, providing people with the tools to set up and run projects in their local communities. [These will include] things such as educational talks, local beach clean up events and working with local authorities to launch new projects.

Public awareness of environmental pollution continues to not be reported in mainstream media. Why do you think there is not enough exposure to plastic and water pollution?

I would probably disagree with this to an extent. I think if we go back 5-10 years, we have definitely seen a much larger conversation happening around environmental issues, including more coverage in mainstream media in recent years. That being said, of course, there is still a lot more that could be covered and discussed. What we have to sometimes remember is that the world has so many issues, and the mainstream media probably find it hard to cover everything regularly, even if they tried. As much as there is a huge ongoing conversation to be had around environmental damage, the same can be said for other important issues, such as racial discrimination, wealth inequality, humanitarian catastrophes, world health issues, gender equality, the justice system and the list goes on.

I think we will always be fighting an uphill battle if we rely on mainstream media to cover issues that we care about. We need to think about what we can do as individuals to make an impact, and build our own communication platforms to spread important information. Little things such as simply having a discussion with a friend to spark a conversion, sharing something you see on social media, or even starting up your own project to engage more people.

In terms of plastic and water pollution in general, it's one of those taboo areas because it's actually very hard to see the problem on a daily basis, meaning less people know the problem exists. We don’t all get to see exactly what is going on beneath the surface, but if we did, I am sure we would all take more interest in it. It’s the same with racism, you can’t always physically see it, but it exists; it’s a systemic and cultural problem, which makes it very hard to identify and call out at times.

Purple Turtle Co logo - purple turtle with a green bottle at its centre What does Purple Turtle hope to achieve in the future?

We hope to continue to grow our community and our brand to make more people aware of the issues, understand how they can influence change themselves, and give people a platform to get involved if they want to do so. We hope to eventually be recognised and trusted as an organisation built on strong environmental values, with the core purpose of influencing change within society.

Attracting other organisations to work with us is also a big part of our future plans, as without collaboration with businesses, we won’t be able to work together on the same path to solutions. Ultimately though, our goal is to help open people’s eyes to the issues, and provide them with easy to implement lifestyle changes. If we can even just reach one new person a day and influence a positive change in their day to day lives, that would be a job well done for our team.

Are there other organisations you would like to collaborate with?

I think as a team we are all very impressed with what Precious Plastic are doing. They very much fall into the ‘Provide the Tools’ part of our strategy. They are giving people the platform and tools to create sustainable businesses and reduce plastic waste through product manufacturing. If we could maybe partner with them in some way in the future that would be awesome. If you haven't checked them out already, please do so.

What positive changes can we make in our daily lives? 

There are so many things I could list, but the list would go on forever. The key is to find small changes over time that you can implement into your daily lives. Trying to change a million things at once can be quite overwhelming. The easiest way to start is to critically question everything you buy and throw away on a daily basis. Ask yourself, is there a more sustainable option? Do I really need this? Could I repurpose this?

The other thing you can do which will have a real impact is simply just having a conversation about sustainability and living a sustainable lifestyle with friends and family. The more conversations and interactions we have with people, the more chance we have of people taking something from the conversation and making a change in their day to day life.

Some people believe their actions won't make a difference. What would you say to encourage them that their actions do make a difference? 

This is a classic example of game theory. All people need to do is be responsible for their own actions. Don’t think about what other people are doing because there will always be people out there who make bad decisions in life. If we focus on what we are doing as an individual, and help spread positive information where we can, that will be a huge impact.

Taking a forceful approach to someone who is behaving unsustainably never gets perceived well and does not work in my opinion. For example, if you see someone throwing litter on the floor, instead of shouting at them or giving them a dirty look, try simply picking it up in clear view of them, say nothing, and make them realise by themselves that they are in the wrong. Social conformity works best when individuals come to the conclusion by themselves; being told what to do tends to have less impact.

What achievements has Purple Turtle Co made since its creation?

I think our biggest achievement is the amazing team we have managed to build. We have some really inspiring people in our community including content writers, product designers, mechanical engineers, researchers and general support experts. Without the community contributing to our platform we wouldn’t be where we are, or where we are heading.

We currently have two research projects taking place, two product design projects, and a content community sharing weekly articles and content across social media. The fact we have built the community from the ground up and managed to fund the projects with no revenue is a great achievement for everyone involved.

On top of that I think everyone involved with PT should be very proud of is the sheer amount of interest we have managed to create. From a social media perspective, we now have over 37,000 people following our journey on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and on our website and this is continuing to grow daily.
Thank you very much Jason, for taking the time to chat!

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