Greener Business IS Better Business: 10 baby steps towards making your business more sustainable.

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Yes! It IS possible to implement sustainable business policies AND be profitable at the same time. And no, profit isn't a dirty word. But more on that later. Overhauling your business might sound daunting, but trust me, it's simpler than you think. Today, I’m pulling back the curtains on 10 tangible ways to sprinkle some sustainability into your business model and yes, I'm speaking from experience. Ever wondered about the true deal with carbon offsetting? Or why your office tea bags might be crying out for a sustainable switch-up? And hey, is your logo-loving merch really doing the planet any favours? From ethical tea sipping to supply chain transparency, it's all in the pursuit of progress, not perfection!

Our sister podcast is called 'Now, That's What I Call Green'.

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Kia ora and welcome to Now, That's What I Call Business and today we're talking about one of my favorite topics, sustainability. Don't run away. I promise you I'm going to make it fun, make it applicable to your business and I might even talk about Incrediballs. Okay, I'm going to talk about Incrediballs first because it's been a big week. So if you follow me on Instagram and guys, if you don't, why not? Our first prototypes arrived. I have been waiting for them for the last couple of weeks. I have known they're on the way, it is all the flavors, but the year I have tested all of the 13 flavors and you know what? We're pretty damn close. All of you out there who've been doing R&D with your products, particularly if someone else is manufacturing it for you, you will know what that's like. You've been waiting for something to arrive for so long, you've got this big build-up in your head, you're not sure how it's gonna go, and there's kind of like this element of fear of whether it's just gonna be awful. And I was pretty sure they were gonna taste salty or like I don't know like a bath bomb would I imagine I've never drank a bath bomb promise but they're great my favorite was a black currant no surprise pink lemonade was a close second yes I went with pink lemonade not just lemonade because let's be honest pink lemonade is the superior one so very soon and I know I keep promising you this but very soon we will have lots more on the way and hopefully before the end of the year we will have our sip squad up and running so have you signed up to incredibles.com?

If you haven't and you want to help us test products, I would head there right now and sign up because soon we will be putting a call out for our Sip Squads. But today, today is not about Incrediballs. I mean it's always about Incrediballs, right? But it's about the incredible world of sustainability. I'm going to give you 10 tips on how to make your business more sustainable because the only way we dig ourselves out of the shit we are in and protect our planet, rehabilitate our environment that, yes, mostly business has destroyed is by changing the way we do business. And yes, you can 100% be sustainable and profitable.

ATIK's proven it. Incredibles is sure as shit going to prove it. There is a multitude of businesses out there that can absolutely prove to you that you don't have to give up your values in order to be profitable. At the end of the day, people start businesses because they want to solve problems. But by and large, people want to make money. And that is what tends to put them off from making choices, which really are better for people and planet. I promise you, you can have both. I read a statistic the other day that said 88% of New Zealand businesses want to be more sustainable, but they don't know how.

And look, just between you and me, I find that hard to believe. But perhaps I'm just being unsympathetic, because there is a lot of information out there. In fact, there is more information out there right now than there ever has been ever before, of course, with the internet, right? Everyone and their dog has a podcast. Everyone and their dog has a blog, which is great. There is more information out there than you could possibly ever absorb. The problem is people don't put it into practice. We don't apply the knowledge. This is why I don't go to conferences because I find that I'm overwhelmed, I'm inspired, I'm so excited, and I'm going to put all these things into practice. I'll go home and I won't do it, which is an absolute waste of everybody's time, isn't it?

So the key is applying the stuff that you read. But let's just remember that moving your business to be more sustainable is about progress, not perfection. It is not about all of a sudden getting rid of all plastic in your supply chain, though that would be great. It is not about minimizing your entire carbon footprint. I mean, that's an impossibility at this stage. It's about doing better than you did last year and a continuous improvement. Now these 10 tips I'm going to give you, everybody pretty much can implement them and they do move the needle.

I'd really love to hear what it is that you do that makes your business more sustainable and I will include them in the next podcast. Number one, let's start off real easy. This is the easy list. I will do another episode in a couple of weeks which will have like a level medium, shall we say. So this is level easy. Number one is carbon measurement and offsetting. I promise it's not as scary as it sounds. But if you haven't started voluntarily doing this, in some countries this will start to become a government mandated requirement.

So you may as well get ahead of the curve and get the kudos for it from your consumers. The first step in emission management is measuring because you can't tackle what you haven't measured. So I highly recommend that you get an external agency to do this for you. Not only does it make it easier, as you know, there's a lot of analysis to do and if you're not an expert, you won't do it right. But it's just more robust and more reliable. So at ATIC we used ECOS and Incredibles as we don't yet operate properly, we can't yet measure anything. We will probably also be using ECOS, but that decision hasn't yet been made. But they are a great independent agency, robust principles. They work with local gold standard carbon offset projects.

They just tickle the boxes for me. But there are other options for sure. All you need to do is provide them with raw data like your flights, freight documentation, power bills and so on. They will do all the heavy lifting for you and come back to you with a figure. There are now bolt-ons you can attach to the likes of Xero or your ERP software, your Enterprise Resource Planning software, which will track all this for you throughout the year. And that's really where you want to get to. But if you're not ready, hand all of the information across to an independent agency and get them to do it.

Then comes step two. Once they've come back to you with a figure, with what your carbon footprint is, once you've stopped crying or being flabbergasted, or hey, in an ideal world, being stoked about it, now you need to offset. Some of you might say, no, now you need to create a plan to minimize. That's a little bit harder. It is absolutely what we're going to do. This is about taking our baby steps into the sustainability world. So all we're going to do at this first stage is offset. It is not a silver bullet.

It's an excellent first step whilst you figure out how to lower your emissions. That will be in the next episode in the series, how to look at building a minimization plan. You can often offset through the same agency you've used, but there are a few things you want to watch out for. So make sure that the offsetting company you work with has certifications and independent auditing. There are a lot of carbon offset projects out there that are complete bullshit Do not fall for one of those. Find a company that works with ethical projects Offsetting is is not tree planting and it really should involve things like renewable energy investment Carbon recapture technology as much as that's probably bullshit too, but it should not be about tree planting So in a teak we look at this in two separate ways.

One, we have about 570,000 trees. They are not part of our offset plan. They are in addition to. Our offset plan is all of the carbon we've offset through things like renewable energy investment. And we use ecology to manage this for us. So ecology with an I, ecologi.com. Use them for a long time. They're a great service. And they kind of gamify the whole thing so it looks really interesting.

A great thing to show suppliers, consumers, just an easy way to explain what it is, the good that you are doing. Definitely something we will be working with at Incredibles, I already have the account set up, it's already ticking away, planting some trees. All of my businesses have one of these project plans with ecology or with another one called only.one. That's literally the website address, only.one. Ensure the trees that you are planting are native species to the area.

Some exotic species do a lot more harm than good in some areas. So this is how I love what the Eden Reforestation Project do. We've worked with them with the Ethique Foundation and through Ethique through ecology. They pay and work with local and indigenous communities to source seeds, plant trees, and then they pay them for long-term forest guardianship, promoting economic empowerment and habitat regeneration. They are a fabulous example of a social enterprise and one day I'd really love to interview them on this podcast. Fingers crossed. Okay, number two, super easy, go paperless.

Yes, this is in every single how to be sustainable podcast or blog post or article, right? But it is worth repeating. Eliminate as much office waste as you can. I am so stoked to see that one of the team members at Ethique has taken this and run with it and got the waste down to an incredibly low amount simply by separating, ensuring that the right recycling goes in the right place. This team member is then dropping places off to specific areas for these things to be recycled. It is composted.

That is the gold standard. She is a legend. She knows what I'm talking about. I don't know if she listens to this podcast, but I hope she's feeling awkward if she does. You know who you are. That's probably a level medium. So for level easy, let's just go paperless. I once knew a consulting firm, right? This is just bonkers. They would email files between internal staff, then each staff member would print the file, physically annotate it, scan it, email the file to the next staff member, and then they would bin the paper they had used for all of two minutes. How on earth was that the most efficient way to do it? They were engineers, anyway. Number three is turn things off. Super obvious, but how many office buildings do you drive past in cities where no one is in them but they're fully lit? And worse, they have the air conditioning on.

Yes, okay, you can't tell that bit from the street, but it's a pretty common practice. Air conditioning uses about 20% of all energy used in buildings. Yep, 20%. It's responsible for about 6% of global energy use. That is bonkers and it is peaked to rise as, of course, global temperatures increase. So make life easy and set timers on your air conditioners to turn off at night. Start 30 minutes before people do and that way you have your comfy office environment and everyone can wear clothes that they're comfortable with. Number four, ship responsibly. This is, we're beginning to get into a little tougher territory here.

If you ship a product, Planet Friendly Freight is something I will get into depth in in the next couple of installments, but an easy win is to scrap plastic or excessive box sizes, looking at you Amazon, and get efficient with what you use to ship in. Yes, unboxing is a social media phenomenon, people love it, it's a massive amazing consumer experience but you know what looks really bad on social media? Bubble wrap bobbing past on ocean currents as you try and find a fish on a dead coral reef. I'm being dramatic. For dramatic effect, you get the point. Ditch the unrecyclable plastic bubble wrap for recycled compostable paper or better yet, get boxes that fit the product so snugly they don't bang around when getting freighted.

There are people who specialise in exactly this who can help you with this one, but it really just requires a little bit more thought and it's usually an easy win. Yes, I know bubble wrap is technically recyclable through certain companies, but I am very dubious to whether that actually occurs. Number five is outfit your office sustainably. This is probably one of my favorites because if you've listened to anything I've ever said before and obviously, of course, you have done, right, then you'll know that I believe the way to change the world the fastest by changing our supply chains If we have sustainable fear supply chains We are lifting people out of poverty and people who are struggling day to day just to feed their family are not looking after the environment Fear trade should be the main minimum. Anyway, today is not about that rant You should outfit your office to use your company dollars for good. So tea, coffee, paper, pens, all your consumables that your office uses try and find a genuinely sustainable option or at least a more ethical option.

So fair trade tea and coffee, plastic-free tea bags or tea leaves. Offer plant-based milk options. It doesn't have to be exclusive, but offer them anyway. Recycled recyclable paper, if you still use paper, or even find refillable pens. This is the bare minimum, I've gotta be honest, and it's a really easy one to implement, and yes, it can change people's lives. The people who you're buying it from, of course, not necessarily the people in the office.

Although I guess if you find a really good tea, well, anything can happen. I talked about waste and I talked about how much the tea team is smashing it. So at a minimum, start separating your waste. Your office is paper-free, fabulous. The next step is to start separating your waste because actually you can then start paying attention to what it is you throw away and then maybe you can just do away with buying whatever that is. Maybe, I don't know. At a minimum, you should start to separate things into unrecyclables, recyclables and compost. Unrecyclables, of course, is a nicer way of saying landfill.

If you don't already, start composting. It's really quite easy to do in an office environment. It just requires a little bit of dedication. If you have a special pickup for your rubbish, they will probably already measure this for you. Once you have a couple of months of data, you can start seeing what a realistic goal is for your waste. And the long-term goal you're aiming for is, wait for it, less than 5% to landfill. Totally doable. Number seven, to merge or not to merge?

That's the question. The answer is to not merch unless you really need it. I get it, right? I totally get it because I want to slap my Incredibles logo on everything. I want to wear it. I want to stick it on bottles. I want to stick it on my house, on my car. I probably don't want a tattoo of it on my forehead, but you get in the gist, right? I want to scream about it. So I get the desire to slap your logo on things. You are proud of what your business does and you want to sell the world. But business merch is a grey area and it's a huge waste of resources. I cannot count, because I can't count higher, I cannot count the number of reusable drink bottles I have unwillingly taken home from well-meaning entrepreneurs or conferences or whatever. Unless it's mission critical, say no. If you want to wear a branded t-shirt to an event like a conference or a pitch, at least make sure the t-shirt is made by people paid a living wage with resources that don't belong to the planet.

A great company to work with here would be Little Yellow Bird based in Wellington. Or what we're doing with Incredibles is we are sourcing plastic-free patches that people can iron onto their clothes that they already have and wear. I'm actually quite stoked about that. My dad came up with the idea. Frickin' genius. I don't need to go on about how bad the fashion industry is.

It's not that episode. But do we really need more t-shirts? 50% of which, which will end up in the landfill within the year? No to merch, is my opinion. It's the same reason Incredibles won't be producing bottles, the same reason Etiquette didn't produce bottles for our concentrates. You already have it in your house. Let's not make more shit. 8. Are your products necessary? This is a big question. And I'll probably leave this for a future conversation, because people have often asked me, are you really doing good by creating businesses? And I believe yes, because if our product that is much less wasteful, much less resource intensive and done in a much more ethical manner, if that displaces a much more wasteful product, then it's a no-brainer because people are going to buy stuff anyway.

But a good practice checklist to have in place is one that focuses on necessity. Obviously, in the purest terms, the most sustainable thing is the one you didn't buy. But of course, as I've just said, people are going to buy things they need to live and work and have fun and raise children and so on. But not everything we've been told is necessary to do those things is necessary. So to give an example, our NPD checklist at Atik had this, is this necessary question where we decide if A, the product actually does display some more wasteful alternative, if B, can we do it in a way that is fabulous for the consumer but does not contravene one of our values. And C, is someone else already doing it? And if so, can we actually do it better or not? And if the answer is no to any of those questions, we don't do it.

Because if you're just creating stuff for the hell of it, it doesn't really matter how sustainable the ingredients are. It's inherently unhelpful. To put some checks and balances into place for what you create, and I appreciate, that's actually quite a tough one. Travel policies. Travel is complicated and people aren't going to stop traveling, but there are things you can do to make it less impactful. People focus, in my opinion, too much in terms of carbon emissions. There are bigger, easier pieces of the puzzle to focus on like food waste.

Go and read Project Drawdown. But regulating travel is an easy way to lessen your impact on the planet. So put policies into place requiring travel by train where possible. Not necessarily possible in New Zealand, but if you've got team members in Europe, totally possible. Car sharing. Incentivise car sharing or biking to work. I used to tell our customers when we had a retail store way back 4 million years ago that if they turned up on a bike, they'd get a discount. And also, put in place some tick boxes that must be, well, ticked, before travel is approved or before someone books it. Insurance necessary, not just a jaunt to a conference. I do wonder how many people attend COP that actually need to be there, which is probably the definition of irony But I'm not getting into that Can you or the person traveling do more than one thing whilst they're there? Make your trip sufficient as direct as possible and pack light You don't need your entire wardrobe And although I have to say one of my new team members traveled around Europe for four or five months or so With a carry-on backpack. She is my hero She will be listening to this and I know she will because she works for me and we start the morning with a podcast.

We don't really. I'm only teasing. But I know she listens to these. I am continually bemused and impressed that you manage that. It's all well and good, people saying that you can have a Zoom call. They're the same as an in-person meeting, but it's not true. You will struggle to build a truly great relationship with an investor or a buyer if you never meet them face-to-face. And sure, we found out we could do that if we really needed to with the pandemic, but business travel has rebounded very quickly due to the reality that sometimes you need to see people face-to-face to get stuff done. So there are ways you can make it more efficient. There are ways you can make it quicker.

Direct flights are better than random journeys to certain places for saving money. So there's a balance there. And of course, when you fly, make sure you offset it. Again, offsets aren't a silver bullet, but they're a great thing to do in the meantime. Most airlines allow you to do it directly in the booking platform. I would not recommend because a lot of them keep flashing up in the news. It's pretty dodgy. So perhaps have a look at ecology again. Now, I've left the biggest to last. Sustainability is about people.

Yes, all people across your supply chain, all the way to the end user. If you don't have diversity, equity and inclusion policies in your company, you need to. Commit to ongoing education of your whole team about how to ensure those policies don't just stay on paper but become part of your culture. Your team should feel safe to bring their authentic selves to work. I didn't talk much about supply chains, which is probably where you expected me to go with that last one because it's a little bit trickier. And this is baby steps. Supply chain is teenage steps, so that'll be in the next installment. Now, I'm sorry.

These episodes have managed to get a little bit longer over time. I wanted this podcast to be short, snappy, something you listen to on the way to work because you really don't need to hear me rambling on forever. But please keep sending me feedback, rating this podcast if you find it helpful, and let me know what you'd like to see next week. I hope you found this entertaining, inspiring, or educational and if not, I promise I will do better next time. I've been your host, Brianne West, and this is now, that's what I call business. We're not just talking business. We are, of course, changing the world.

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