With a mission to replace common single-use items, LastObject was founded by Isabel Aagaard with eco-friendly ideals right from the start. From their plastic free packaging to their innovative products made from plant-based or organic materials, LastObject is helping the world rethink reusable products. Join us as we interview Isabel Aagaard, founder of LastObject!
Has sustainability always been a part of your life? How did you get to where you are today?
I have always been very interested in waste reduction and sustainable design solutions, everything that I have done throughout the years has in some way tapped into these interests.
I have a Master’s Degree in Collaborative Design from the Royal Academy of Design in Copenhagen, and before LastObject I worked on designing equipment for hospitals. At that time I was sharing an office space with my now co-founders, and one day we started talking about what we really wanted to do in life. We realized that our purpose was to design our way to a less trashy world. That’s when we decided to create LastObject.
Could you describe your own sustainability journey? Any specific challenges or eco-wins you’ve had?
I didn’t grow up with a zero waste lifestyle at all, and I’m still trying to do better in my quest. This is also the reason we started LastObject, we need alternatives that make the switch easier. For me the to-go coffee was really hard to break, being so well prepared with a cleaned to-go cup was really hard to implement. Most recently I’ve been trying out the reusable diaper at home and this has not been easy. I’m still working on it. Some things need time and baby steps before you are at 100%.
What advice do you have for someone just joining the eco-movement?
Where you can make a difference depends on your lifestyle, some people love their to-go coffee, some are shopping crazy while others clean their ears often. So it’s really about looking at your life, taking a good look at the things you bring into your home and throw out, and just replacing or eliminating one thing at a time. You can aim to replace one thing a month so you get 30 days to get used to this new habit.
What inspired you to start LastObject? Was there a single moment where the idea clicked for you?
LastObject started from the desire to create reusable products to replace everyday single-use items. Me and my two Co-founders, Nicolas Aagaard (my brother) and Kaare Frandsen, started researching single-use items that were the biggest source of household waste, and the cotton swab was surprisingly quite high on this list.
What led you to choose a cotton swab alternative as the first product?
We were really surprised to see that cotton swabs are one of the most harmful ocean pollutants. We found that one of the biggest issues is that people didn’t discard them properly, mainly because they are so small. If flushed down the toilet they often don’t get caught by filtration systems and are dumped directly into the ocean, and later end up in the stomachs of sea creatures. We felt that by solving this problem, we would create an impact on marine life as well as single-use pollution.
Can you tell us about the design process at LastObject (conception, testing, building, etc)?
We prototype a lot. The product, the packaging, the content. Everything is made and edited hundreds of times while constantly being tested. We try to get our designs in our hands even though most of our work is on a computer.
For example our newest product is LastPad (launching in January of 2022) is an initiative we’ve been working on since 2019. Getting the right solutions to the issues with existing reusable pads and getting the right fit so it hugs your body, was a really long process. We have tested thousands of prototypes and had to put it on the shelf a couple of times, because we needed this product to be perfect. Even our male developers have had to wear it to detect possible improvements. Testing has been our most important tool in this regard, also outside of your period.
I want to mention too that we’ve always been open to changing things around even after launch. For example, we changed the material we use for the LastSwab case two years after the launch. We never assume that we’ve reached perfection. If we find a better solution at any point, we go for it.
How do you select the next product you will create?
We work on multiple products at the same time, and some require leaps in design or material discovery. Some need to sit on the shelf for a little while and others just click. And we are also very affected by the lives we live. When I had my first baby, I knew I had to make a baby version of LastSwab.
What is a hurdle you had to overcome while building LastObject? How did you move forward?
Crowdfunding is awesome, but it makes you vulnerable to copies. One difficulty we didn’t anticipate was all the copies that emerged immediately after launch; we struggled with that during and after the campaign. We were copied after three days and had to spend a lot of energy and time on protecting our design. We now have a really nice setup every time we launch new products with trademark and design registrations.
With the immense growth you have seen since the beginning of LastObject, reaching a benchmark of helping to eliminate over 2 billion single-use items in only two and a half years, what do you hope or predict to see happen in the next year? Five years?
I think we will see more products that are better quality and in sustainable materials that will improve your daily habits at home and on the go. I think there will be a huge movement in sustainable materials for everything we use.
Our goal at LastObject is to really make a difference with our products and for that we need good products and scale. More specifically, our goal is to eliminate 50 billion single-use items by 2023.
What is a product you hope LastObject will have a reusable option for in the future?
Toilet paper is definitely our holy grail. We have a toilet roll placed at the office on our self to set the bar high, but I feel like we have a few products before that one that can be tackled. The world was ready for a reusable swab, and then tissues, cotton rounds.. Hopefully period pads. So I think there is room for some more products in the “icky” department!
LastObject is one of our favorite brands in the EarthHero community – and lead the pack when it comes to creating innovative, long-lasting, eco-friendly products for the modern world. Want to explore all LastObject products? Find them here!