03 05 Elvis Kresse Hero 1920x1440

Behind 
the 
Dopper 
Holder: 
interview 
with 
Kresse 
Wesling

May 10, 2021

By: Virginia Yanquilevich, CEO Dopper

We recently launched the first ever Dopper Bottle Holder. An ocean-saving sidekick fully handmade from London’s decommissioned firehoses by fellow B Corp Elvis & Kresse. It’s not something we would do with just anyone, but this one’s a match we’re proud of. Not just because of the work we do together – enabling you to fight plastic pollution, hands-free – but also because of who they are. I spoke to Kresse Wesling, one half of our inspiring new partner, about pollution, achieving behavioural change and staying motivated in a world full of challenges.

You’re an example to so many people, so inspiring. How were you as a little girl?

“As a little girl I was already an activist, organising things with kids in the neighbourhood. When I was 11 years old, I made an environmental documentary.  And because I wanted it to look professional, I wore my mother’s jacket. I took it really seriously. If I’d had a phone at that time I would’ve been out of control because I wanted to communicate to people, to share my ideas. I probably would’ve started my own environmental YouTube channel.”

What did you want to be then?

“Many different things, veterinarian, politician, or maybe human rights lawyer. I knew that participating in a protest wasn’t enough, I needed to take action, to do something with positive impact. Creating social and environmental justice.”

Who do you think is responsible for the pollution problem?

“We are all 100% responsible, with the exception of our children and people trapped in poverty. That’s a lesson I’ve learnt from my maternal grandmother, who said: ‘If you are capable, you are responsible.’ To me, that means everybody who lives comfortably is responsible. Not only politicians, they are crucial, and we need them, but it’s about society and the corporations too. The idea that organisations make profit at the expense of environmental problems and social disasters, I don’t understand. How can this be possible? No one can say that this is appropriate or rational. The entire system is the problem.”

How do we solve it?

“If we want to change, everybody needs to be involved. It’s not one thing. There’s a lot of focus on the consumer, but the consumer can’t do it alone. It’s the total industry. I write a lot of letters to parliamentary groups and government officials about what the future could look like. I was a member of the commission discussing the future of manufacturing and the barriers for circularity. It was a great experience to see how some organisations clearly see their impact on society while other organisations don’t. They only see the profit.

I am convinced that you need everyone on board to make the change: the consumer, organisations and governments. A £2.00 T-shirt can’t be allowed, because it’s obvious that people and the environment are exploited to make that price possible. It should be illegal. So, the question is threefold: Why do rules allow it, why do companies produce such items, and why do consumers buy them? Everybody is responsible.”

What do you think the future looks like?

“I am not a complete optimist and not a complete pessimist. We can solve these problems. We just need to adjust the system, our consumption patterns, and eliminate single-use everything. Then we can do it. But I also know how difficult it’s going to be. People want to maintain a lifestyle that isn’t sustainable. In my case, I’m happy when I’m working on fixing it. Doing things, taking action, then I feel positive. At night, watching the 10 o’clock news, I get pulled down.”

How do you ensure behavioural change in consumers? What needs to happen?

“Consumer behaviour is fascinating. The seat belt is a good example; many people use it to avoid getting a fine instead of for protection. And despite knowing that you can save your life by eating healthier or playing sports, people often keep doing what they do.  We have to create systems to empower better behaviour. We don’t have to ban everything, but we need norms and rules.

Personally, I don’t know why companies are allowed to sell products in non-recyclable packaging. I believe that in the future people will be shocked when they look at, for example, mineral water bottles. We’re in a transition. We need to make single-use water bottles a taboo and instead make people feel proud to refill. Maybe governments need to tax bottled water. It’s too cheap. We make things easier for people at the expense of the planet. We need to tell people the real stories, if people know what’s happening, they will probably change. A single-use plastic bottle of mineral water should be £15.00 if you take into consideration the enormous problems it causes.”

Between us, Dopper and Elvis & Kresse tackle several social and environmental issues. How do you feel about all the other issues?

“Of course, I worry about many topics. What I hope and expect from the B Corp movement, is that if we become bigger and bigger as a community, then every enterprise will tackle another problem. I have more and more hope the larger our community becomes. We need to multiply.

When I see a problem I want to solve it. But you need to know what you are good at. I’m acting, but I can’t tackle everything. I care, but I need to rely on other people to do what they’re good at too.”

Where does your fascination for the firehose material come from?

“It’s easy to fall in love with it and the perfect material to be rescued and transformed. The red colour, it represents life for me, because of what it’s been through. For 25 years it saves people’s lives. It’s dragged through mud, glass, fire and more and sometimes doesn’t survive. It’s a material with a story.  Plus, I believe the work the firefighters do should be celebrated and rewarded – we always wanted the material to do something for them. That’s the reason we donate 50% of our profits to the Fire Fighters Charity, a charity that provides firefighters and their families with mental and physical health support. It’s a provocative material, it’s art, but it is also incredibly useful.”