Auckland-based Jayden Klinac is tackling the single-use plastic industry one plant-based water bottle at a time. Photo / Rebecca Zephyr Thomas

Favourite Things: For The Better Good Founder Jayden Klinac

Motivated to reinvent how we use plastic water bottles, Jayden Klinac also values products that last and add meaning

If you’ve ever felt guilty about buying single-use plastic, Jayden Klinac can help you out.

He was in a similar situation a few years ago, stranded at a petrol station between Auckland and Wellington without his reusable bottle.

“If I wanted to be able to drink water, I had to buy it in a container made from oil. I knew it would be in our environment forever once I was done with it,” recalls Jayden.

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Whereas the rest of us could justify — albeit sinfully — a plastic purchase here and there, the now 28-year-old couldn’t accept there wasn’t a better alternative. “Unfortunately, the cons outweigh the pros. Plastic has its place and isn’t going away anytime soon but we need to start producing it, using it and disposing of it differently,” he says.

So, Jayden decided to take on what is arguably one of the world’s biggest wasteful addictions: oil-based plastic water bottles.

His social enterprise, For The Better Good, produces water bottles made entirely from plants, utilising corn, potatoes and sugarcane, which are broken down and extracted for their natural gases.

For The Better Good plastic-free water bottles made from plants. Photo / Rebecca Zephyr Thomas

It’s taken three and a half years of development to reach the desired product that is reusable, recyclable and compostable, and “won’t break down in your hands”, says Jayden. He first investigated materials such as hemp and lignin from plants and trees but found that starch-rich vegetables were the way to go.

Jayden has also spent time setting up more than 100 refill stations and upwards of 20 collection stations to make sure each of his Better Bottles are recycled or composted.

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“This is a huge part of our offering. We don’t consider the end product to be just the bottle of water, but it’s entire life system,” he says.

The bottles are now stocked in cafes and yoga studios in Auckland, Dunedin and Queenstown, in Huckleberry Organics and soon, Farro Fresh. Jayden’s vision is to see the bottles anywhere that offers bottled water and says he has found success with businesses interested in sustainability.

The company is looking to tap into the tourism sector with footprint-conscious hotels next on the list.

Jayden’s ultimate goal is for New Zealand to be plastic bottle-free. “I’m excited to grow to a point where the country is working together on this and setting the standard for the rest of the world.”

MY FAVOURITE THINGS

Buddy T-shirt and Mckinlays shoes. Photo / Rebecca Zephyr Thomas

1. Mckinlays shoes
It’s a rare occasion that I will go out of my way to buy a specific item or brand. Some of the best clothes and items I own, however, seem to find a way into my life just when I need them. I acquired a pair of Mckinlays shoes, handmade in Dunedin, and have not looked back. I never knew shoes were still handmade, in New Zealand, let alone Dunedin.

2. Buddy T-shirt
When I buy anything, I look for items that I know are made to last forever. This T-shirt is made of hemp and organic cotton as opposed to standard cotton T-shirts. Cotton (as I recently learned) degrades every time you wash it, whereas this blend gets softer with every wash and doesn’t deteriorate in quality.

Crosby record player. Photo / Rebecca Zephyr Thomas

3. Crosby record player
I love collecting records and my player has travelled with me since I was 20 from Dunedin, Auckland and Arrowtown. I get a real buzz out of sitting down to listen to records. I find digital music to be a background noise when you are busy doing something else, whereas listening to a record is doing something in itself.

Shakti Mat. Photo / Rebecca Zephyr Thomas

4. Shakti Mat
Yoga is a huge part of my life. I don’t know where I would be without it. Like the majority of people, I have times when my mind runs my life and you don’t learn in school how to deal with that. My partner is a yoga teacher and she introduced me to adding a Shakti mat to the practice which puts your body into “controlled discomfort”, which you learn to relax into. It really helps to bring the mind back to its centre, which has been invaluable to me and has become a daily tool.

Canon film camera. Photo / Rebecca Zephyr Thomas

5. Canon film camera
I have never been hugely into photography as a hobby, but every year I challenge myself to go somewhere new. Last year I did a solo trip to Vietnam, bought a motorbike and drove from the south up to the Chinese border. I took a digital camera but found at the end I had so many pictures that the thought of going through them all daunted me. For my trip to India and Nepal this year I decided to only take my film camera. When shooting on film, you put thought into every photo you take and I love the element of excitement of waiting to have them processed.

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