In the latest in our Life as I know it series, meet 16 year old Lysander Bickham, who having just launched his own eco-friendly subscription box, shares his journey in sustainability so far and the impact he hopes it will have on his future.
How did you first become interested in sustainability?
This is down to when I was in year nine at school – just three years ago, so not so long! We were learning about the UN Sustainability Global Goals and were tasked with trying to solve one of them. I chose Goal 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities, with the idea being to encourage greener, healthier cities, by growing plants from seeds. Along with a few school friends, I sourced free seeds and handed them out in a local park one Saturday to people walking past. Sadly this was not a great success, proving to be unsustainable with no one seeming to plant the seeds (we had set up a website for people to provide their feedback). However, a second attempt was a lot more successful, as my school thought that I was on to something. I pitched an idea to put ‘air’ plants in each of our classrooms to help reduce carbon emissions for the school and to improve the overall feeling of the school. With my headmaster on side, within months we had over 1,000 plants in the school which reduced 200 tonnes of carbon dioxide and other harmful gases. Putting my plants in classrooms and my research into which plants were best for reducing carbon emissions, led me to learn more about the issues faced by our planet and the need to combat climate change.
What inspired you to launch Leo’s box?
Two things. Firstly, I wanted to become more eco-friendly and live a zero waste life. That takes a lot of work. I discovered it is both challenging and very expensive to try to become more eco-friendly. I thought there must be a good way of getting great eco friendly products at a cheaper price. I am a fan of subscription boxes ever since meeting Freddie from Freddie’s Flowers when he knocked on our door. I knew that the only way to convert people to a more eco-friendly life was to make it as easy as possible and subscriptions are a great way to help change peoples’ shopping habits. Did you know how few eco-friendly subscription boxes there are in the UK? So, I decided to launch my own. The second reason for launching Leo’s Box is to give back to the world. Having a parent who works in sustainability, we’re motivated to give back to society in our world. Part of it was also to prove to him that I could do this. Leo’s Box is impact-focused to give back as much as possible.
Do you always try to buy sustainable /ethical products? What are some of your favourites?
I always try to buy sustainable and ethical products in every part of my life. From ethical clothes companies to bamboo toothbrushes, I am trying to live a sustainable life focused on social products which have got a great story behind them. One of my first experiences of eco-friendly beauty products was watching Dragons Den not so long ago: Optiat (now UpCircle) came on and I thought that was an amazing product range. From then on I wanted to create a beauty box within my business. Their face scrub is one of my favourite products. I also love Seedballs ‘Bee balls’; they’ll be the main product behind my bee box which is coming soon.
What are your sustainable priorities for yourself and Leo Box?
My priorities are to include products that are sustainable, eco- friendly and ones that are really good, which customers will want to use. I spend hours researching each product to try and find the best eco-friendly product possible. I look at the companies commitments to supporting the planet as well as their story and reason for starting their business. I love to understand why someone else started their business. That has a large impact on what goes into the box. If I succeed I will be able to say that I am helping people reduce their impact on the planet, as a business we need to have no impact at all, and that I am sourcing things for them that they love and can make part of their own sustainable living. This is the driving force behind the business. They challenge is to make it have a positive impact by making every journey taken to sell boxes carbon neutral. At the end of the month – based on number of customers – there is a twist in how we recycle – as we will be planting trees through Onetreeplanted.
What are you planning on doing in the future for Leo’s box?
In the next few months hopefully I shall be launching another box which is designed to source home eco products. We will be using our home box to deliver products ranging from Bee’s wrap to seedballs and cleaning products, such as natural detergent. Sometimes it can be hard to to judge which products are good, I obviously need to do more cleaning at home! We are currently doing market research. I have asked lots of people in lots of companies for their views. As a business I am hoping that I can help highlight the amazing work of my fellow young eco activists, like Greta Thunberg, who are such an inspiration and who help motivate my work and let me know that my hard work isn’t going to waste! I am also hoping to partner with more charities to ensure we combat issues and have a positive impact on the planet
What does sustainability mean to you?
This covers all things to do with living – anything and everything to me. Sustainability has been a distraction, interest and refuge during the past three years. It has given me things to explore and research and enjoy in and out of school. It has also given me something to talk to my dad about so that I can understand more about what he does on a daily basis! It has become a real passion, there is so much information out there, and there are so many different ways to become sustainable such as buying eco-friendly products, changing food, as well as habits. New facts emerge all the time, there is more information about the devastating impact that humanity is having on the planet. It has been also been a refuge for me from the huge stress that I have felt during exams in the past year. Sustainability involves change and action in a community. Sustainability means participating in a family, with people all striving for one aim.
Read more inspiring stories from our ‘Life as I know it‘ series.