Welcome to our brand new Ecopotter series. Here at Ecopots, we know how important community is. Through the simple act of storytelling, we aim to create an online space where like-minded individuals can connect and inspire one another. So, what exactly is an Ecopotter? Good question.
The term 'Ecopotter' can be defined as: an everyday hero, actively embodying the Ecopots mission in their own unique way, through a passion for sustainability, design or plants.
So without further ado, kicking off the series are husband-and-wife duo, the wonderful Caryl and Jordan Andrews from the beautiful New Quay off the coast of Wales. In 2019, the couple spotted an opportunity and founded Shell on Earth, recycling the waste whelk shells from the small seafood processing factory that has been in their family for many generations. Since then, they have built on their business and a lot has happened - including a global pandemic. We caught up with Caryl to see how they’ve been getting on and how they integrate their mission of sustainability into their everyday lives. There are a million ways to live more sustainably, and this is just one story.
Hey Caryl! Thank you so much to Jordan and yourself for being our very first Ecopotters. How are you guys doing in the current lockdown in the UK?
Hi! We’re doing well thanks. We have been very fortunate that our customers have continued to support us throughout this pandemic. It seems that word is getting around - people are telling their friends and family about us, so our business just keeps growing. In fact, we have just employed one of our old school friends to come and help us with our retail operation, as it was getting too busy for me to manage on my own!
Tell us a little about yourselves and your wonderful brand.
Primarily, we sell the crushed whelk shells generated by our family’s seafood processing business here on the West coast of Wales. Our brand has been on quite a journey since we launched in 2019; we’re always open to change, and we listen to our customer’s ideas. During the first lockdown, we also started to stock an array of plants, gifts and gardening accessories; the online retail side of our business just exploded!
What inspired the birth of Shell on Earth? Was there a pivotal ‘lightbulb’ moment where you realised the waste shells from the family business could be utilized to create something new?
Well, we really have Jordan’s parents to thank. They have been running the family business for the past 30+ years - before that, it belonged to Jordan’s grandfather - and they’ve always wanted to utilise the shells in a positive way. It all happened very naturally when we moved back to West Wales from London, following the birth of our son. We were lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to join the family business, and finding a creative way to recycle the shells was our first big task. We did a lot of research and discovered that, in places such as America, shells were commonly used in gardens and landscaping, but it just wasn’t very common here in the UK. We jumped at the chance to change that - we came up with the name Shell on Earth and went from there!
What practices does your brand have in place to ensure a minimal environmental footprint and promote a circular economy?
We don’t have an infinite amount of shells, so we will only ever sell what we have coming out of the seafood business. Our whelk fishery is regarded as one of the most sustainable of its kind, as the whelks are caught in traditional pots, which have a minimal impact on the seafloor and marine habitats. Any organic discards from our business are converted into green energy, meaning we operate a circular economy utilising 100% of this natural product.
At Shell on Earth, our packaging is recyclable and some of it biodegradable. And we are always looking for better, more eco-friendly ways to package our products too.
What are the some of the benefits of your products?
Our shells’ main purpose is to act as a beautiful top dressing for plant pots. They help to retain moisture and deter pests like fungus gnats and slugs. The shells can also be added to soil to improve drainage - or used in bigger quantities for larger landscaping projects, like paths and driveways.
What are some ways in which sustainability is incorporated into your everyday life as a family?
We recently moved house into our first family home. The move made us realise just how much ‘stuff’ one family can accumulate and generate in a lifetime! Our aim as a family is to use less plastic, grow our own food, generate less waste and to educate our children to do the same.
What matters most to you when buying a product or stocking it in your shop?
We never buy or stock anything that we don’t love or wouldn’t use ourselves. Our guiding thought is always, “would our customers love this too?” It is always hugely exciting to find companies like Ecopots, who produce a fantastic product which is born from a desire to recycle waste, whilst still being led by great design and aesthetic. Ecopots align perfectly with our brand and they’re already proving very popular!
Judging by your Instagram - you guys look like a green-fingered bunch! What is your favourite plant for spring and why?
Well, as I’m Welsh, I would have to say the Daffodil, wouldn’t I?! There is nothing more cheering than fresh bursts of sunny yellow Daffodils in your garden or hedgerow after a dull winter.
How do you think the pandemic will impact the way we consume? Are there any lifestyle changes you have made in the last year that you’d like to continue in the post-pandemic world?
The pandemic has definitely had an impact on the way we consume. One word - Amazon.
Saying that, we’ve tried to support as many small, local businesses as possible over the past year - such as food producers, bakers, wine companies, delis, florists, garden centres, craftspeople etc. The independents all need our support if we want them to stick around.
As a family, we have barely gone to a supermarket, and instead have been shopping at our local village shop - we’ll certainly continue doing this. We love the chats and community spirit!
Are there any cool like-minded independent brands you have discovered recently that you would like to give a shout out to?
Oh - where do we start? There are so many – but you could check out For Peat’s Sake, Badger & Birch, Dalesfoot Composts, Gwenyn Gruffydd, Harriet’s Plants and of course Ecopots!
What does the future hold for Shell on Earth? Is there anything in the pipeline you guys are planning and would like to share?
We have lots planned - all top secret for the moment, I’m afraid! We have a new product launching soon, but we’ve experienced a slight setback due to Brexit and issues at the border. We are hoping it will be launched before May!
And finally, what is one simple everyday change people at home can make for the good of the planet?
Grow more plants!
We concur, we concur. Thank you so much to Caryl and Jordan for being our first Ecopotters and taking the time to talk to us. Keep doing what you’re doing!
With our Ecopotter series, we are proudly celebrating the everyday eco-heroes, the design devotees, and the growers of all things green. Could you be next? If you or somebody you know has an interesting tale to tell - let us know. Mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org or tag #thenextecopotter on Instagram.
Be part of something great.