Image courtesy of Belinda David-Tooze/Envirosax Reusable Bags
Envirosax reusable shopping bags are popular for their tiny, compact design—but we had no idea that the mastermind behind them all is incredibly larger than life. Belinda David Tooze, the founder, always had an avid interest in design, fashion, and textiles. When she mixed that with her early exposure to travel, culture and nature—Envirosax evolved—a business that reflected her commitment to environmental philosophies.
Just as impressive is Belinda's commitment "off-the-clock." When she's not juggling the responsibilities that come with leading an international company, she's walking the green talk in no ordinary way.
Nestled in the heart of Australia's rainforest, Belinda lives with her husband and three children in a completely eco-friendly abode boasting solar hot water and photovoltaic cells for electricity. They also grown all of their own fruits and veggies and water their garden with a gray water system. For Belinda, her green home truly is where her green heart is, and it's most evident in her rainforest generation. In the past 14 years, she and her husband regenerated 17 acres in northern New South Wales Australia and she's currently working on a 10-acre regeneration program in southeast Queensland.
How did you get into this line of work?
Following experience and education in couture pattern making and public relations, and having travelled extensively backpacking around the world in my youth; I had just settled down and had my third child with my husband Mark David-Tooze. I was contemplating my next venture into paid work that would be flexible enough for me to look after my children yet engaging enough to be of interest—and ideally follow my environmental leanings.
What was your "a-ha" moment?
One day after a family shopping trip, sitting down to a glass of wine, the conversation turned to the standard supermarket reusable bag options which were just starting to appear in the market place. They were big, bulky, and made of polypropylene which actually breaks down quickly in UV light, disintegrates easily, and is made of fairly dangerous chemicals. They also aren't easy to carry around or wash after filling full of vegetables and fruit. But the biggest problem was actually remembering to take them at all. I decided there must be a better way; a bag that was appealing, fashionable and convenient—and I set about to make it happen.
Who is your green hero?
I don't believe there is one person I can pinpoint that has inspired my passion for the environment but I believe everyone who is trying to make a difference is a hero. From Summer Rayne Oakes, Leonardo DiCaprio and Al Gore on the media stage, to our "Australian of the Year" Tim Flannery, an internationally acclaimed scientist, explorer and conservationist, to everyday people who watch their water consumption, carry reusable bags and buy sustainable products. It takes action from everyone to make a difference.
What is your ultimate green goal?
My ultimate green goal is to stop the use of 'one use' items from plastic bags to glass and plastic bottles, to all types of packaging. Even clothing can be an environmental hazard when we discard items so easily in the name of fashion. So to change the focus from a 'throwaway' society would have to be the ultimate goal.
What is your motivation?
The knowledge that this business is making an impact, educating adults and children about the importance of reuse and leaving an environmental legacy for my children—at least they will know we played our part and tried to make a difference.
What is most important to you, ecologically speaking?
The most important thing to me is that all of our kids have a bountiful planet that is respected, honoured, cherished and in existence for future generations.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job/business is to keep up the pace with the rapid growth being experienced by our business worldwide. There are time zones to negotiate, staff in all corners of the globe and my children's schedules to coordinate.
What is the most rewarding?
The most rewarding is working with an ethical and passionate team of people who drive the business to greater heights and always have more green ideas to improve the business. Also, there is great satisfaction in having a business that has a fantastic impact on the planet. Over five million Envirosax bags have been sold worldwide which means up to 1.2 billion 'one use' plastic bags were not dumped into the landfills.
Of the people you have worked with, who impresses you most?
Probably my husband. His great environmental drive is inspiring. Also being a scientist, his knowledge of chemistry has been a guiding light through the various environmental options for our bag fabrics. Without his assistance in the business and sharing responsibilities with the children, the business wouldn't be what it is today.
What green thing do you do everyday?
Our entire lifestyle is green and we live sustainably as possible. We live on a 10-acre pristine rainforest property in Currumbin, SE Queensland in Australia, which is ecologically sustainable with solar hot water, photovoltaic cells for electricity, and a sewerage system that recycles waste water.
What do you wish you could do?
I wish I could turn everyone environmentally conscious overnight! Imagine how amazing that would be?
What is your biggest eco-sin?
My biggest eco-sin is that I enjoy wines from California and Nevada! I know sourcing food and produce locally is the preferred option, however the taste is just so superior that it's my biggest indulgence. I either have to source the wine from overseas or ship it from one of the major cities in Australia.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
If I had the power to change one thing it would actually be for people to show a little more respect for each other and all of mankind. There are far too many conflicts relating to race, religion or ethnicity, which is just ignorant and appalling.
What is your best green advice?
My best green advice is to pay attention to water usage. Be aware that this precious resource is not infinite. It is an essential part of life without which we cannot exist and therefore should not be taken for granted. It is so easy to do simple things such as fix leaky taps, turn off the water while brushing your teeth, water your gardens during the evening and even take shorter showers.