Queensland party planners go plastic-free
EVA Sedlakova and Lala Harrison are on a mission to change the world - one birthday party at a time.
The duo are behind Funki Trunki, a Cairns business offering eco-friendly party kits for hire. This means single-use plastics such as cups, paper or plastic plates and plastic cutlery are out and biodegradable, reusable products are in.
The business was born from a combined love of parties and the duo's concern over the impact of single-use plastics, which eventually break down to micro plastics, filling landfill, our oceans, and never really leaving the Earth.
Before Funki Trunki began, Eva, 24, and Lala, 30, were both involved with theSPACE, a Cairns organisation dedicated to helping people start and grow small businesses. The pair became fast friends, using each other as soundboards for potential businesses.
Eva, who also works as a PA at a Cairns financial advisory firm, loved kids' birthday parties and Lala, a social media feelancer, had an interest in starting an eco-friendly clothing label.
"My previous business idea was throwing parties for children," Eva says.
"I could see with friends, how much trouble they had organising parties. I would help them organise parties but noticed so much waste, so much single-use plastics. I started talking to Lala about this."
"We both had different ideas for businesses," Lala says.
"For me everything had to be sustainable. I'm originally from Fiji. All these plastics washed up on the beaches there. You see how far single-use plastics can go."
The pair decided to enter the world of small business together with a firm commitment to an environmental focus.
They pair saw a gap in the market and started their research, discerning what products met their commitment to keeping items out of landfill and sourcing products - from how they were made to disposed of - that would not negatively impact on the earth.
By August, 2018, Funki Trunki had launched, which Eva and Lala promoted as a one-stop shop for kids' birthdays using reusable items to reduce single-use plastic waste.
"With single-use plastics, we've noticed it's so easy to go and buy $3 worth of plastic plates that you don't have to wash. Plastics never degrade.
"It breaks into microplastics and that never leaves the earth."
Lala adds: "That all ends up in landfill. There are more plastics than fish in the ocean. We hold parties for children and we are trashing their future with plastics."
There are a range of packages available with Funki Trunki, from just plates, cups and cutlery - which are delivered clean and removed dirty, and cleaned by Eva and Lala - to the whole party set-up, including games, tableware and furniture.
Since launching the business, demand for their parties "has been nothing we can't handle", according to Lala.
They've catered for kids' birthday parties and more recently a baby shower for 50 people but the pair have growth in their sights.
They are planning to hold workshops with children to educate them about single-use plastics. Eva and Lala are also working on goodie bags and the eco-friendly products that go in them, with plans to make them available nationwide.
"We are aiming for compostable party kits," Lala says. "They will be products that can go in the compost straight away rather than sitting there for 500-1000 years, maybe longer."
Eva and Lala acknowledge that changing habits can be a tough road.
They regularly share eco-friendly party tips on their Facebook page, one of which is encouraging people to stop using balloons at parties.
"We are big on not using balloons," Lala says.
"It's taking time for some to get the message."
They suggest so many other options in lieue of ballons, such as tissue pom-poms, paper fans,
paper lanterns, bubbles, buntings and banners, ribbon dance streamers, kites, garden spinners and pinwheels.
But there are so many other conservation messages they are yet to spread.
If a bin gets contaminated with food from a pizza box, for example, that renders the entire bin contaminated, according to the pair.
They are encouraging people to be more aware of their purchases and to make smart choices that don't support plastics.
"You may feel like you are not making a difference as an individual," Eva says. "As individuals we have so much power. If 100,000 individuals change their habits it would impact the big companies and they would have to change."
"The biggest thing is trying to change peoples' habits," Lala says. "If you make it too hard for people you are not going to get them to make change. The changes have to be small. You soon realise it's not hard to always look for that eco alternative.
"We want to make it as easy as possible. We come in and set up and then we pack it all down."