Social Media for Humans

Ethical business ownership - an Earth day roundtable

April 22, 2022 Alexis Bushnell Season 2 Episode 8
Social Media for Humans
Ethical business ownership - an Earth day roundtable
Show Notes Transcript

Celebrate Earth day with an ethical business roundtable discussion with special guests:

Mandy Chowdhary - Goodness Goodies.

Named for my passion in providing goods that taste delicious and 'free from' whilst positively impacting health and the planet.  I believe that small decisions made daily by us, help the world we live in to thrive.

Website: https://goodnessgoodies.co.uk/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/goodnessgoodies
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Goodnessgoodiesliving/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mandy-chowdhary-059b9388/
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@goodnessgoodiesuk

Kate Stansfield - Kate Stansfield Translations.

Kate Stansfield has been a freelance French/Spanish to English translator, copy-editor and proof-reader for over 11 years. She has dipped her toes in the corporate world, in the world of international organisations as an intern at the UN in Vienna, and in the not-for-profit sector as a charity administrator and later volunteer translator.

Website: www.katestansfield.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kate.stansfield.translations/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/katestansfieldtranslations/

Katherine Byam - Where Ideas Launch.

The Wing Woman to your Genius: Katherine is a business resilience and brand stewardship strategist, partnering with leaders committed to a sustainable future.

Website: www.whereideaslaunch.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/whereideaslaunch/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/whereideaslaunch
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/womeninsustainablebusiness
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/katherinebyam/
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@thewingwomantoyourgenius
Podcast: https://open.spotify.com/show/6UEXGLioqreK3rUZjplS5b

Virginia Cinquemani - Green Gorilla Consultants Ltd.

Empowering sustainability professionals to make an impact | Author of SustainABLE | One of top 100 f:entrepreneur female entrepreneurs 2022.

Website: https://thegreengorilla.co.uk/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/virginiacinquemani/

Katie Skelton - Little Green Duck.

Katie is a visibility mentor, helping small business owners that care about more than just profit to be seen by the right people, attract the right opportunities and make a positive impact in the world.

Website: https://littlegreenduck.co.uk
Instagram: instagram.com/littlegreenduck
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/katieskelton

Voice over by Hawke Wood: https://www.spotlight.com/3490-9081-8844

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Alexis:

Okay we are live! Hello, hello. Welcome to this live episode of the Social Media for Humans   podcast especially for Earth Day. I am  Alexis Bushnell, my pronouns are she her,   I run Social Media for Humans, as you may expect,  which is basically a membership, a community,   a podcast, a blog for humans who want to use social  media ethically and effectively for their business.   So will you please introduce yourselves, Mandy.  Mandy: Hi I'm Mandy Chowdry, I'm the founder of    Goodness Goodies which is an online retailer and wholesaler which specialises in free from products and vegan treats, basically products that  make your life sweeter and greener.   Delicious! Kate. Kate: Hello, I'm Kate Stansfield my pronouns are she her, and I am a freelance translator,   copy editor, proofreader, project manager. Basically  I provide language services and specialise in sustainability and international development,  ethical brands, not for profits mainly. Yeah.   Very good, Katherine. Katherine: Hi everyone, I'm Katherine I'm she her, I am a LinkedIn coach as well as  a business mentor and I run a community of  women in sustainable business on Facebook.   I also have a podcast called Where Ideas Launch for sustainable innovation.   That's good. Virginia. Virginia: Hello, I'm Virginia Cinquemani the owner of The Green Gorilla consultants Ltd,   she her as well, and the Green Gorilla  effectively specialises in training and coaching   for sustainability professionals to enhance their  impact, so communication, selling and all of this   good stuff. I'm also a professional coach for  sustainability people. Very good. And Katie. Katie: Hello, my name's Katie Skelton and I own and run Little Green Duck. I'm a visibility mentor for purpose-led and sustainable brands and businesses so basically I help people to be more visible reach more people, attract more opportunities and make more of an impact in the world. My pronouns are also she her. Very good. We are going to be chatting today about the the great things about running an ethical   business, some of the the hard things about running  an ethical business, and then towards the end we   will offer some ideas for consumers who want to  support ethical businesses and see more ethical   businesses in the world. So let's start with the  good stuff, the wins, the this is why I really love   being an ethical, sustainable business. Mandy, why do you love it?

Mandy:

Okay so there are many reasons. I think   ultimately it's about control over the products  that I sell and wholesale so that the end user has   choice that's available to them that is outside of  what the supermarket can offer. And it's about   making those small changes sort of daily in  the things that you would use, the way that you   live your life. Making the world a sort of better place for my children,   for their children and full circle. And it's  just, for me the key thing is just small changes   and I think that's how I've sort of grown, and it  enables me to work with brands and my supply chain   also to have that control over who I'm choosing.  So it's yeah, it's around that control part,   making the right choices myself so that in turn  people have choice. 

Alexis:

yeah and it does create that ripple effect doesn't it if you're providing that choice, you're out there living   in that way, it does it allows other people to go,  oh yeah this is a thing I can do, this is an option   I have which is really powerful. Mandy: Yeah and you know I kind of do a local market in the area and that's   just to showcase the products, you know, just so  that there are other things. And for me the key   thing as well is affordability, in an environment  at the moment where they're increasing   with fuel and energy and food, that by not  having a shop I can keep overheads down and that   then in turn means that my prices are hopefully  affordable or comparable to non-plastic   versions of cleaning products and things like  that, so keeping things really small and simple   it enables me to be that little  bit more sustainable in my business.   Yeah. Kate what do you love about it? Kate: When I was thinking about this at first I thought   I was gonna struggle to articulate it and then I ended  up having a lot of thoughts! I think it boils   down to, for me the first thing is that a couple  of years ago because I've been doing what I do   for 11 plus years and but it was about two or  three years ago I had a bit of an epiphany where   I realized I wasn't loving what I was doing  every day even though I love translating, and   I love languages and so it's the realisation that  I can actually do what I love and what I'm good at   but also embrace this passion and drive  I have to help drive positive change, and   that was a complete revelation and it's opened  so many, that second part of it is opening up my   eyes to this whole world of like hearted, that's  a phrase I heard the other day that I really love,   other business owners and not just  business owners, individuals as well. But I   always felt slightly like I didn't fit in in terms of what I was trying to do in my   personal life and then I did feel that something  was missing and to be able to address the issues that are really important in the  world today and the challenges we have   in my business as well and to meet and  converse and collaborate and connect with   other people doing the same thing and see  this kind of movement growing that, to me, is   is amazing. So kind of community and collaboration  as well, and within the translation industry often   it's all about competition and rates and blah  blah blah, so this has just enabled me to connect   with other linguists as well as other people  outside of the industry on this level of like   working together for that common goal, if that  makes sense. A lot of thoughts like I said!   Yeah yeah. Has anybody else had that feeling  of like when you first started maybe you felt   like outside and like everybody else in the  business, the industry that you were in was like this specific way and you were like  this is not really my vibe?

Katherine:

Absolutely.

Kate:

Interesting. Katie: Yeah me too, 100 percent.  

Katherine:

Yeah some spaces feel so icky sometimes and you're just like oh I don't want to be there.

Katie:

I think particularly those of us who are involved  with like coaching and mentoring as well. The   coaching industry has got quite a bad reputation  for not being particularly ethical at times and   so it's just really nice to be in spaces with  people who actually get it and know that you don't   have to do all those things to run a successful  business, an impactful business. It's so refreshing   and so like, I did think for a while that I was  never going to find that and so it's nice to have   finally felt like I, like Kate said, fit in  somewhere and it's this is my, this is my place.  

Virginia:

Yeah I think also there is an element  of I don't know, contrast them between   being a business owner and having ethical purposes  sometimes, it's a bit of a battle internally to say   do I prioritise profit or do  I prioritize my values and I think that's never   gonna go to sleep for me but I know that what  I do can help others to be successful   at pushing sustainability, so for me that is what  drives, but sometimes that there is that, I don't   fit within the business world exactly but I do  because without me possibly other people   will suffer or will go with to somebody that  is more unethical than I can be so yeah.  

Mandy:

I had to deal with that dichotomy, that issue as well with some of the products that I buy,   whilst they may have a good story  and their values align with mine   not all of their packaging may be compostable or  plastic free, and I've been particularly one brand   I've been importing them for many, many years and  I have conversations with them around   their packaging, when are they going to move to a  plastic free? They're vegan, their products are  vegan, but yet their packaging is in plastic and so, you know, there is that sort of balance and   do I stop supplying them to my customers? Or do I just carry on? Which is what I'm doing at the moment. And know that other brands   their packaging is better  and compostable packaging, so yeah I do   have that quite a lot. There's 180 brands  that I have, that I stock, so not always everyone's   gonna completely align with your values and  on a day-to-day level, whilst I may kind of   try and live as green as I can, I don't always.  I do drive a car for instance and so I think there's a balance, there's only  so much you can do, and sometimes you could kind of overwhelm yourself if you're  doing something. I will go to the supermarket and   I will buy a cucumber that might be wrapped in  plastic, I try not to but sometimes   you can't always do what you want to do,  but if you try a little bit, just small changes   where you can make a difference, make that  difference I guess. That's how I resonate it anyway.

Alexis:

Part of the community, the power of community is meeting other people who are really invested in this and have that same battle and that same worry and hearing other people go oh you know it   really bothered me to have to. Somebody was buying  a pillow the other day and they could not find one   that was like ethically sourced and wasn't  you know plasticky and all this and they looked   everywhere and they just couldn't find one, and  seeing other people have that discussion like   with themselves and other people is so helpful  and validating to be able to go, okay nobody else   is doing it perfectly either, we're all just doing  our best.

Katie:

Well also it's a really good opportunity   to learn from other people too isn't it. Like I've  seen people who have similar values to me  but their focus at a given time is slightly  different, and so someone will be really heavily   focusing on the digital carbon footprint of their  website and everybody else in the community,   I'm thinking of someone specific here, everyone  else in the community then goes oh my goodness   yeah I could look at this too and being able to  bounce those ideas off each other and learn from   each other because we are all at different  stages of our journeys, it's actually a big   win if we're talking about wins, that's a really  good thing.

Kate:

Yeah definitely. I have learned   incredible amounts over the past year or  two. I mean, I didn't know what the digital   carbon footprint was a year, 18 months ago, definitely didn't really think about the impact   of my website etc, and everything I've learned has  been from other people I'm connected with online   and other people running similar businesses, and  so many different service based businesses just   sharing resources and knowledge. It's that again,  it's that sense of community once again.   All right may have to just go and see to a  delivery!

Katherine:

I wanted to touch on what Virginia was   saying about about the sort of conflict that she  lives with between profit and purpose in some way.   And it's interesting, I mean when I look at  some of the more successful sustainable businesses,   it's really driven from this community place,  so the same conversation that we're having but   it's really driven from this collective in this  community. And with that understanding, there's an   understanding that we all need to live right.   So I think it's really about finding your   niche, finding your community, and finding that  space where it becomes easy, it's an easier   transaction, it's not a hard sell, it's  an easy transaction because you're providing a   service that's of value to someone else, right.  And I think you're right, it takes a bit   to find that, it takes a bit to  create that and to make a welcoming space   that people can engage with, but it's so worth it  when you have it, right, and then it feels easy.

Alexis:

Virginia do you have thoughts? Virginia: In terms of why I enjoy what I do? Yeah,    yes so I started many many years ago, I won't say how many, by studying and working in architecture and at that point I realised that actually what I wanted to do was the common sense thing And the common sense was to build at that time, buildings that were "green"  as they were called, when I'm talking about.   So over the years I shifted, I don't do design  anymore but that core idea of I need to do   the right thing, I need to do the thing that  makes more sense, waste doesn't make any sense,   mistreating the world that we live in  doesn't make any sense, so for me this has been the   really the thread throughout my career and what  really makes me wake up in the morning and really put all my effort into this and I love it.  Since I started working in line with my values,   and it sounds a bit cliché, but actually it makes  the world of difference when you've got long days   and maybe the money is not what you would  like it to be or whatever, it is that you,    or you have a horrible client that sort of puts you in trouble whatever it is,   if you have that connection with the values that  you believe in, although imperfectly like Mandy   was saying, I still drive a car. One day. I try and avoid car journeys  but as much as I can, I live in line with  my values imperfectly and I think that is what   makes me enjoy every day and what I do, and I do a  bunch of different things but that's the thread is that value driven idea of supporting others and try and leave a light footprint, or no   footprint when possible.   Yeah, I think coming back to what Katherine was saying as well, I think the the balance of profit, purpose,  how sustainable can I realistically be,   for me a lot of it is as well about  being honest with your audience   and saying like this is what I am doing  and these are the things that I would like to do   but they're not feasible right now for me, for  various reasons I cannot do these certain things   but they are on my long-term plan, I am aware of  them and I think one of the sort of, obviously at   the minute everybody is terrified about cancel culture and for me that is one of the ways to   counteract it, is to not pretend that you are  the peak of sustainable or ethical business   and to just go look, I'm doing my best, this is what  I know about, if you know something else I would   love to hear about it, let's chat, let's share  those ideas. And to not essentially put   yourself on that pedestal as like look at me, I  am super, do everything like I do, because nobody is.

Kate:

It's about communicating these actions  isn't it, and what is possible but   in a really realistic way and inspiring  others. They're not going to be inspired if   they just literally look at that and go well  that's just not achievable or attainable,   switch off to it. Katie: Yeah and also probably not true either it's like, even if you're saying I am the   most sustainable person in the world, as Mandy  says sometimes you just really need a cucumber. [Laughter] It is that transparency and, again back to ethics,  it's you know the two are.

Virginia:

I don't know about you guys  but I think also the pandemic helped  in that sense. So with the horrible, horrible   couple of years that we had that more relaxed  attitude towards ourselves and sort of   I got a delivery and I'm gonna  pick it up, you know what I mean? It's like   it doesn't, I don't know how to say that but it doesn't really   like standards as such, but actually it shows  the true face of human beings and I like the   idea of doing my best and not trying  to live up to a standard that is   just unattainable, and I think having done an enormous amount of Zoom calls in my pyjamas   and my crocs, which I'm not going to  show you but I do wear them right now,   feeling a little more relaxed about not  having stilettos on and it doesn't matter,   nobody cares so long as you're doing the best for your business and for your clients.  

Kate:

Yeah, I do feel like a lot less pretence in general.  Katherine: Yeah. I had a situation recently, in fact   this week, where I collaborated with a big tech  company that doesn't have the best reputation and   we have a discussion going on about them  sponsoring an awards that I'm bringing out and   the team that's helping me kind of challenged  whether or not we should allow this big tech   firm to support us, and it's an interesting  debate because yes, it can be perceived as   greenwashing for sure but at the same time, do  you leave them with their money and let them   go into space with it?! Like you know,   should we try to use that money to do something   that that actually makes a difference. And I find this kind of conflict, it comes   up a lot right, like trying to make that right ethical decision, it's it's not so simple. I don't know how you guys feel  about that, what would you do?

Alexis:

I think for me I would be having the  discussion of, I will happily take your money   but also then try to use it as a way to  push them on certain issues. Maybe pick like   one or two issues that are their biggest sort  of problem areas and go in with like, you   know I would love to work with you on this  but what are you prepared to commit to?   You know, what are you prepared to actually do so  that this isn't just a PR stunt because I don't   want it to just be a PR stunt for you, I don't want  to be used in that way to make you look impressive.   yeah, so that's what I would do, anybody else? Virginia: I agree and you know   sometimes you criticise, I mean I've been  boycotting McDonald's for 20 plus years   but what do you do when McDonald's are saying  that they sell vegan, whatever it is, food? Do they have to close completely their shops or  can they transition towards a better,   ethical business effectively? I  don't know, it's a difficult one. I agree with you Alexis that probably that's  the way, you know, let's have a chat, what will you do because if this is just to  look good in front of people then no thanks.   And I know lots of business owners doing sustainable business  don't want to deal with the baddies,  but the same time, they are the ones who need   the doctor, right? They are the ill people that  need the doctor, not necessarily people. Because   I know that this community can be quite so close  in that sense and we talk to each other a lot, we   know each other quite a bit, and it's difficult  to come out of that bubble, so I think welcoming   people that are supposedly not as good  might be a way to break it into mainstream.   Yeah, Kathryn actually has just left a comment  saying "do we think that a company starting as a   PR stunt can subsequently learn to be more  ethical?" That's a good question. 

Katherine:

I think that no company really entirely does it  as a PR stunt because there are humans working   in these spaces right? So for example in this firm,  the person that I collaborate with there,    I know she's committed to real change. Whether or  not the whole organisation is another conversation,   but the people who are doing these things usually  are, so it's quite a difficult one to answer.   I think ultimately businesses, as big as  they are, they're still humans and there's still   different opinions inside there, just as there  are different opinions outside here, so tough one.  

Katie:

Yeah I agree Katherine but I also think   I've lost my train of thought  so you may need to come back to me! What do I think? Who knows! I've remembered! When  you mentioned there's somebody that you're   dealing with, that's your contact in the  business that's committed, I think people like   us who are kind of helping people to see that  sustainability and ethical practices are the way   to go, having someone like that as a bit of an  ally for you if you're within a business that   you think oh they don't align with my values is  massively valuable because you could be going in   and going right, okay, these are the things that you  could be doing, these are the things that you could   be communicating to your management or the owners  of the business to try and make some small changes   to try and drive that big business towards a  more ethical or sustainable model. So yeah,   I think that if you get the opportunity, well  it sounds like you do have the opportunity,   and you've got someone who's already aligned  with you then, as a partnership you could   actually change the world. Katherine: Yeah I do think the internal change management is tough. Like I, before coming to the sustainability space, I worked for seven years in a controversial industry   in change management, so it's tough  it's not an easy gig, but at the   same time it has to be done, someone has to  do it, right? So you need these,   in any organisation, the people who choose these  type of roles it's usually purpose-driven, and   I think one of the conflicts is when you're committed to social impact and change   and you work in that space, you work in the  NGO space the funding isn't always there,   so you go to the big corporate to get the  funding to put it where it needs to be   and that's the challenge that I think,  you know, perception wise from the outside   it's like oh my god why are you working  there? Why are you collaborating with this   firm? But something has to be done  and the resource is needed, so for any of these   missions that we have, the sustainable missions  that we have, we need to take care of ourselves   but we also need to take care of our communities  and part of the way to do that is to get this support. So it's an education  thing I guess as well, so it's like when you   decide to commit to going with a company like  that has a sort of prominent face, probably in   not the right direction, it's really about how you  communicate it. I guess I'm gonna find out because if i start doing this and it doesn't quite  work out I might have learned the lesson but I think that's the case, like you have  to be courageous enough to take that journey.

Kate:

Like you say somebody's got to do these really hard things otherwise nothing's going to change so.  

Alexis:

Yeah, I think from a PR point of view  as well, I think if they do it as a PR stunt   and then the reaction that they get is like  this is amazing, we want to support this company,   and sales increase they see a  difference, they see that it was beneficial to   their business, I do think that that can push them  further down that road because they see, because   especially like big corporates, that's  what they care about is their bottom line, you know,   they care about seeing an increase in sales and an increase in this and an increase in that  and so if you can demonstrate through that  PR greenwashing stuff like, actually this is going   to be good for your business, I do think it can  push for actual change in the business itself.  

Virginia:

The other element there is that if they  approach you Katherine, it means that they already see partly why associating with an ethical business has a  value. So big businesses got their own insight and   their own intelligence so they know that, it's  just it takes time to change a big business   from their core ideas and values into an ethical  business, especially big businesses got so many   shareholder interests and stakeholder interest et cetera, they come in between, but this   I think is commendable in a way when they want to  associate with a smaller business but actually an   ethical one, it means they're starting to wake up  to that, so I don't think it's all bad but I'm an   optimistic by nature so probably that's just  me looking at the you know bright side of life!  

Mandy:

Yeah we do see more businesses reporting not just on their bottom line but there is a bit more about   people, planet, profit, you know, there is  that sort of triple reporting going on. More impact assessments as well, you see  more and more of those coming out where people are   saying well we've done this but we've offset  against this and, you know, just to demonstrate   that they are doing a little bit more. Alexis: think that's a good point to switch   to the difficult stuff and I'm gonna  read a comment from Tracy because I think this kind of can start us off and Tracy's put  "as a traditional graphic designer I've had many   discussions about the carbon footprint of web and  social media over the years. Sometimes print and   other materials need to be considered and the  life expectancy and innovation of the product"   and I think this is, for me, one of the the woes of,  the difficulties, the hard things about running is   that decision-making process of like  where do I focus my efforts and where   do I say no I can't do that right now, I want to make that change but it's not feasible.   So for me definitely that is one of the big  difficulties and the things that I hate about   ethical business is there are so many  areas that I am aware of and without   even thinking about the things I don't even know  about yet and there's all these areas that I   want to make changes in and it's just not possible  to do it all at once. 

Kate:

No so it's where to start. Yeah exactly the same and especially when it  is just you, in terms of money and time and   effort you literally can't attack everything  at once and I think it's a mistake to do so.  That's the main thing I've learned over the  past year, I was really lucky to be involved in   a project with the University of York last year  and with community sustainability   champions and that enabled me to work with a  team of students, of undergrads at York from   all different disciplines who asked me to really look at the areas of my business,   at the main areas that I felt I could  make the biggest impact and they went away and   did a lot of research for me, so that was a great  kind of springboard. I think if you can sit down   and, because every business is different, try to  establish where you might be having   that social environmental impact. Again it's  still difficult but it's something to   start with. I also really love the idea of  the Venn diagram, this is an idea that   I've heard on the "How to save a planet" podcast  and starting with joy, so what you love, and what you can do, so your skill, and then need, so what you feel is like the most critical thing at the moment, and kind of identify  one thing, and then being a Venn diagram in the   middle is like just your starting point, and it  gives you a bit of direction and you can apply   that to your business. That's just one idea  but yeah it's usually something I struggle with.   I did a post really early this morning  about Ecologi, the tree planting   and reforestation, and how I agonised, I  was inactive in that element of my business   impact for so long because I couldn't make the  decision about what the best impact would be   and so I just stalled on it and that's so often  the case as well I think, it's hard to know   what might just again be green  washing or just makes you look like you're   putting on a show of of being environmentally  minded and not actually, and that thing isn't   actually making the big impact you think it is.  So I went with a lot of recommendations but   I'm getting messages even now while we're on  this about "but I was worried about this because   so-and-so said this about tree planting" and  yeah, it's really hard. So I've rambled on a lot!

Katie:

No, I agree with you Kate. I think that the whole  overwhelm thing is massive because I feel like   overwhelm leads to procrastination, procrastination  leads to inaction, and if you're not taking any action at all because you're  worried about what you should be focusing on,   then obviously that's not a great thing, so I'm  trying really really hard to just focus myself on   like one thing at a time. Like okay, there are loads  of things that I want to do but if I try and think   about all of them at the same time then I'll shut  down and then nothing will get done, so trying to   kind of temper myself, like my need to just  act on everything and do all the things is a bad   habit I'm trying to get out of. And just to address Tracy's point as well, I used to   work in the broadcast industry and lots of the  conversations I've had with people more recently   since moving into running my own business, I've  spoken to business owners back in my old industry   and it's really hard to get everybody involved to  actually care enough about like the end of life of   product, like the products that we're talking about  like the big broadcast TV cameras or   big pieces of equipment that take loads of  resources to create but the manufacturers are not,   or weren't until recently, thinking about end of  life or what happens when you need to trade it   in for the newer model. It's the same with iPhones  isn't it, like how many iPhones just get binned or   stuck in a draw for five years because you  want the latest one, and I think making   people care or trying to encourage people to care  in the first place is hard and also just the time-consuming element of doing the  research you need to do in order to align with   your own values. It's harder to go right,  okay, where can I buy something that is completely   plastic free, compostable, vegan blah blah blah  that ticks all of my ethical boxes. It's easier   just to go down to your local supermarket and I'm  not going to keep mentioning cucumbers! But it's, I think that it's  difficult to for every single area of your   life do that depth of research that satisfies  everything and ticks every box so   I think just starting with the thing that's  most important to you, as Kate was saying,   starting with the thing that's most important to  you and then building from there and doing more   research as you go along, rather than feeling  like you have to do all the research in one go   is probably a better approach and again,  something I'm not great at but working on.  

Virginia:

I'm gonna quote the owner of Patagonia who famously said "to lead the examined life is a pain in the   ass" because it is, because you made  the choice to have an ethical   business, to try and live your life in line  with your values, blah de blah, but you find   that at the moment the world doesn't transition  completely into ethical, and in fact it probably   was still a minority although it's better  than what it was when I started 16 years ago.   But it is, all the research, all that  for me that's the one of the main difficulties,   although of course when you find a product or  something then you tend to keep subscribing so   Kate you mentioned Ecologi, so also I pay for Ecologi et cetera but it's tree planting,   we know already this is not the solution and I  think the main difficulty in sustainability and   ethical business is there is not a solution, or one  solution that fits all and so you have to keep keep updating and keep informed and look around  and it is exhausting because at the end of the day   you also have a business to run, and you have  to get money to feed your children   or whatever it is, so it is an extra layer  of difficulty I would say, and also you have a   reputation now that you have to keep up. So yes, we're  human but at the same time we do need to provide   an example to other people and our clients and  on social media, so it's a lot of pressure I think. 

Kate:

Yeah I feel like a double pressure both,  as you say, to be keeping up with things so the   more I've learned about digital footprint etcetera  and the actions that you can take to minimise that   and then as you say, you get busy, you're running  your business and you realise that you're not   really kind of impacting what you preach there.  There's that pressure to constantly keep   at it, but also the pressure I feel is to  keep, because I really strongly believe it's   crucial to communicate those changes you're  making, the action you're taking, so   it's like double whammy of pressure. Mandy: Because with being a shop   it's quite easy for me as I've said to  find the products fit with my values, but   what it's not so good at is to show what you  are doing aside from showcasing your products,   so that comes back down to what I'm saying  about the impact assessment for instance.   I've signed up with too good to go which is about  eliminating or reducing food waste, so any stock   that's a little bit out of date or soon to be out  of date, I create magic bags, somebody comes around   they pay a third of the value, and that's a  nationwide scheme for anybody, so many   businesses have joined up but I don't necessarily  tell people how much food I've saved in   doing so, nor indeed planting trees or  whatever else I might be doing it's all offsetting.   That side of it falls down because it is just me  doing everything and so some things just drop and that is the frustrating time of  it, irrespective of the sustainability element   or the ethical side running the business,  there's just time to do everything   so you make choices, you just do. In my case I  make the choices to get the orders out, you know,   do those kind of operational things, the  things that hit you first you just get on with.   Yeah and I find that frustrating too because  I'm concentrating on getting projects out when   really I would like to be spending more time as  well on finding those clients who are making   the positive change. Not all of the clients  I work with are my ideal client in that sense   so it's hard that balance. I would like to  be spending more time to in turn increase my   positive impact by working with more worthwhile,  perhaps, clients but there isn't there always enough hours in the day. Alexis: Yeah Katherine, what sort of struggles do you have?

Katherine:

I was just going to go back to that same point that I talked about with Virginia as well and on the   money and the work of of ethics, and  I think it's really difficult. Like how can   we stand up and fight for the income  generation that we need to support this   and still feel ethical. Like that's a constant constant   battle that people have. And for me it's like, I don't do well on   that right, so I don't do well on that  balance, I don't make enough at times and I'm always having to compensate with   savings or past income and stuff when I don't   push hard enough and then the  question is like where do you stop?    Where do you go? And this is one of the  reasons I'm thinking about incorporating this   sort of getting resourcing or getting funding  side of things, to see how those projects can   can build more. So that's really yeah,  ultimately the struggle is like what compromises do I have to make on taking  in that sort of money versus going out and   trying to build it on my own. So it's like, it's always this, just balance.

Virginia:

Katherine, this is something that I get a lot of clients who come with me with as a problem   because, as I said before, I support sustainability  professionals, so to sell sustainability ethically   and that doesn't mean that I don't go  through the same problem in a way, but then   you have to give yourself a little pep talk in  terms of what you're doing is actually pushing   something that the world will benefit from. So  when we sell our services or products and they   are better products and services than others  because they have that extra layer of ethical   or sustainable etc, we are actually, well first of  all serving our client better because we are   addressing the issues, so that's the thing which is  the same that another company could do without the   extra layer of ethical and sustainable,  is a double whammy like we said before.   So when I think about my business in  that sense, if I don't push my services out there   that means that the potential clients will go to  somebody that has not the same values as I have   and they might not gain that momentum  in pushing sustainability you know, support for   example sustainability consultants to sell their services better, if they're not able to   do that then their clients will miss out and it's  like ripple effect. So I think for   everyone in this room would be the same, unless we  push our services out there the world will suffer.   We don't know how much of a ripple effect we  actually cause by even signing up one more   client, and that's the thing that really motivates  me to keep in business really because even if   it's a small business we can have a massive  massive impact that we don't even imagine.  

Katherine:

Yeah it's interesting and I'm going  to say something controversial but I often wonder, because you know I've  worked in big corporate and and now I work   for myself I often wonder if I wouldn't make a  bigger impact in a bigger space that   had more resourcing than in my small space, I often  wonder that, I often have that debate with myself,   would I be able to create more change if  I led social impact in one of these spaces   and did more, and that's also a constant  debate right and it's not that I don't think   small businesses have impacts, I do, we are the most of the businesses   around the world, right? We generate something like 70% of all    the employed revenue that comes in  but at the same time it's fundamentally   the big companies have the biggest impact and  the the biggest change needs to happen there.

Virginia:

I'm gonna argue on one point  only because it is true, some big company might   have a bigger impact but think about Greta, which  we seem to have forgotten about, a 16 year old   at that time sitting with a hand-painted sign she  made. She on her own, just her   she moved the world and I think lots of things  have changed as a consequence. It was just one   little girl and I think a lot of the big  thinkers that we might, I won't mention   here, were single, one person with a big  vision and I think we shouldn't forget that big   vision but saying that, of course if  you are in a bigger pond, you're big fish then  you might have a bigger impact but not necessarily. Katie: Yeah, I feel the same Katherine.   I feel exactly the same but the way I kind of  rationalise it is I know that I work better   in a space where I feel safe and supported and  connected with the people I'm connected with.   In a big corporation where I don't feel like I'm in  my element, I don't feel like I'm,    it's harder work and maybe you're better cut out to  do it than I am and this is why you're struggling. 

Katherine:

I don't think that I am!

Katie:

But I think the way I rationalise it  to me is A) I'm trying to create a business   here that actually supports the life that I  want to lead as well as changing the world,   not a big ask obviously! But I know that  if I was working say in a big bank trying to   change them from the inside I wouldn't be  happy. I'm happy doing what I'm doing and   if that means that I make slightly less impact  as a result, at least I'm making an impact in a   way that's actually making me feel a bit more  whole and a bit less soulless and unsupported   and like I'm fighting against a machine that  just cannot be fought against. I kind of stay in my safe space with, my  friendly space because I like all of you,    I don't like working for a big company. Kate: So that comes back again to joy and skills so    you're playing to your strengths there and I think that's crucial because everyone will have different    strengths and operate better and be more comfortable in  different environments yeah and some people really   Yeah and some people really. I know someone who runs a pigeon sanctuary,  bear with me here, a pigeon sanctuary, she's called   Little Green Pigeon if you want to go and look  her up on Instagram and she absolutely thrives   on conflict, like it's her thing that she loves  changing people's perceptions through conflict   and it's like she genuinely loves it.  That would just fill me with dread every day if   I came onto my Instagram page and see comments,  like anti-me comments, it would destroy me.

Kate:

But we need people like that. Katie: Yeah and as you say different people thrive in different environments and in different ways of  working and different ways of communicating and if   it's working and it's helping you make an impact  then great, but that kind of conflict is not for me!  

Alexis:

I think that's something that we we do tend  to forget as well I think when we're talking   about like sustainability and ethics, we tend to  forget that like it needs to be sustainable for us   as well, like we have to factor into it. It's  not, to me anyway, like it's not ethical for me to   prioritise all of the causes that I want to  help above like me, that's not an ethical   choice, I have to be looked after as  well, I matter as well, and I think that   that can cause some of that conflict is  when we're having that debate of like   but all of these things are so important and  like I'll be fine if I don't make enough   money for the next three months or whatever, I'll  be fine if I don't speak to another human being   for the next week, like these things. We're  always prepared to make sacrifices   for ourselves where we go without and that's  actually, in my mind, not really that sustainable   as a choice and not really that ethical, and it's  also something that is kind of expected and there can often be push back when you don't  make that sacrifice and you stand up and say   "I am making this sustainable for me." Kate: Yeah but it doesn't serve that purpose either because,   oh I hope I articulate this reasonably well. So  absolutely Katie and Alexis, you've mentioned how   the way you work et cetera it's got to be  sustainable and ethical for you, it's got to allow   you to live that life that you want to lead. And  often with us it's so, for example in my case I need to earn more because I actually want to  work less because I want to spend more of my   time not sitting at my desk and down the allotment  growing my own food, or in the community doing the   local climate action that I desperately want to do  and don't have time and resources to do because I   need to be working all the time. And we are  humans so why can't we think of ourselves as   you know, whole people not just our work but you know, it's one element of our lives and   and as humans the effect, the impact we can  have as a whole holistically, if that makes sense.   

Katie:

Yes totally, and I think I'd much rather have a smaller impact on a long-term basis than go and have a big but very short-lived impact that results  in me burning out or feeling awful about   myself, so yeah, that sustainability from a  personal point of view is huge for me as well.

Mandy:

So going back to Katherine's  point about the big businesses and the   change needs to come from there and that is  very true. If we want bigger change in our climate change if you like, it needs  to come from those larger corporations   but that's not to say that small businesses, and  lots of small businesses collectively can make   a bigger change and I've been reading loads about  that. So since Covid there have been lots of small   businesses that have set up, little entrepreneurs  doing, they're selling this, to doing things   as a result of it and that will have an impact to  the bigger change. It doesn't need to come from the   bigger corporation, corporate corporations  but we have to be mindful of the fact   that the big corporations are probably causing  a lot of the damage, so if you can get in there   and make that impact absolutely but, collectively,  small businesses can also make change.  

Kate:

And also lead the way and I think that comes back  to, or leads on to, thinking about consumers and   the pressure they can put on the bigger  corporations to change their ways because I   think there is a growing tide of people choosing  these smaller businesses, smaller more ethical   sustainable businesses, that the evidence is  there, that's what more and more people want   and that's where pressure and system change  will come from so sort of leading nicely onto the impact consumer choice can have. Mandy: I thought about this a lot and I really   struggled with with how to sort of answer it, or  how to, and it was like yes consumers, going on   to your question Alexis, consumers can  influence businesses by choice, by being careful   about what they choose, but aside from that I did  struggle with with what else really. Lobbying, yes   but all of this then comes as what Katie  was saying that, you know, sometimes time money,   those constraints that we have as individuals  influence how we buy and how we how we shop   and whether you feel you actually make  a difference. There are lots of people,   if one was to look at studies, if they were to  answer what stopped you, it would be "do I   actually make a difference?" So if collectively  lots of people think like that then   I don't know how they, yeah, I struggled  with this question. do you know um i also one

Virginia:

Do you know, I also one of my various things that I do is that I teach at  Coventry university and this semester we looked at   the behaviour, the science behind the  behaviour of people adopting sustainability or not   and it's really interesting because science is  not conclusive in that sense and will driven by   different things, price which I think could be a  big element, sometimes it's not and it's just a   justification, it's just you tell yourself  oh it is costly when actually it might be   social pressure, maybe the people you  live with disagree with your choices. It can be as well availability or the fact that something is not as easy to use   because it's sustainable, or it's not that  accessible, so accessibility is another element.   There's so many things that come into play  when you think about the choice people   make. For example here where I live in St Albans there's a lovely little shop that just sells zero waste products, produce, so you go there,  you fill your bags and you come back with pasta and   like that. Unfortunately it is more pricey because  they try and source the best products etc etc.    At the beginning I was like "oh my god, I'm gonna go  there every week," and then I came with the reality   of actually I need to stop and park or go on foot and because it's actually an   awkward place with no parking so I need to  go on foot and carry all this stuff with me,   it's actually the practicality of things. I need to  remember my bags, I need to remember my Tupperware or whatever it is. It is the practicality  as well as the price for me that stopped me from going   and now, bless them, they're closing because  they don't have enough footfall.   So it's not just one thing and it's very very  hard for companies to actually understand   what drives people but I think we are witnessing  a momentum in which actually these things are   going to become more obvious and they're going to  become more accessible and I think for those   of us that have been in this space for a few  years you will see the difference, you know, between   10 years ago and now. We are already in a different  world from what it was in terms of sustainability   and accessibility of sustainable products or  ethical services so it's just things are changing,   it just takes time, and a lot of it is actually  the society we're living in I believe.   

Katherine:

And I think as well, I was just going to  say about habits, right, because the   same way we're talking about we're implementing or  integrating different aspects at different times,   I think it's the same thing for the consumer base  right, and it's it's not easy to adopt wholesale   a whole bunch of new habits at once, you know. So  people will make some incremental changes in their   lives, there will be things that are harder to  sacrifice than others because it will feel like a   sacrifice until you socialise yourself  around, you know, this is actually better than this   option when I look at everything, you know. It  just takes time, it just fundamentally takes time.   And yes it's important for consumers, I think  consumers make the biggest impacts on what   businesses actually do, I think it's the  only reason big businesses are changing today because of that relationship but it's also  just on fundamental economics, right?   I don't know if any of you've read Kate Raworth's book Doughnut Economics, I love that book, it's such a good, insightful book about how we  manage economics today, and when you look at   that it's like ultimately, if we continue to let  the big get bigger they won't have customers, they   won't have communities to buy from them, they won't  be able to sustain what they're doing, and I   think that that's becoming more and more  evident to people, that fact that impact   that we have as well as the companies. So I  think it's really about habit forming and creating   an environment to include that new habit incrementally, and it is going to be a journey   but it will happen I think in the next three four years we will see, as Virginia says, a huge change.

Katie:

Yeah, I think starting small is the  way, isn't it. And another thing that has   become really apparent to me from, it's  not necessarily how you're approaching   businesses and how to get businesses to change, but  from a consumer point of view, from an individual   point of view, communication is everything. Like  I used to run a vegan food blog and the number   of my friends who still come to me and go "oh, have  you still got that recipe for that?" And like that   is just, it's not even leading by example it's  more just showing how these habits, these   changes, these products can be quite easy once  you get into the swing of it, and if 10 people say   to me "can I have your vegan noodles recipe," then  that's a win in my eyes and I'm not going and like   standing up in front of all my friends going "this  is why you should do this," but if they see   a piece of clothing I'm wearing that just  happens to be from a small sustainable brand then   I'll share that with them and I'll let them know  like this is where I got it from, this is why I've   bought it, this is the difference I'm hoping to  make, and just communicating your own journey   and how some changes can be really easy  and also communicating how some changes are   not as easy and it can be a struggle, and like yes  I was addicted to cheese once but I'm not anymore,   like that kind of thing, and that kind of  conversation just on a day-to-day basis with   friends and family or sharing on your social  media can be hugely powerful, even if you don't   feel like you've got any influence people  are watching and listening and taking notes.  

Kate:

100% and for me I think the biggest example  in my life has been with cloth nappies. So out of my particularly close circle  of friends I was the first one to have kids   and use cloth nappies, not all the time not,  not full-time, not from the start, various ups and   downs with it because it's a bit of a journey! And I never once lectured anyone on that, I never   went on, banged on about it, it was there, it was  in their faces, they saw it in real life, and when   they came to have kids so many of them messaged me  when they were pregnant and asked for advice, "where   do I start? What do I do? It's really confusing."  So I gave them that advice and some kept with   it, some didn't, but like you say, one person using  reusable nappies, one reusable nappy a week is a win   in my eyes! But there are so many instances of  that yeah, it is just sharing your journey, 100%.  

Alexis:

Yeah, I think it's that normalising it as  well, and normalising it but with honesty   because I do think, like when I first went vegan  there were so many things that I bought and tried   because all the comments and the reviews were  like "this is amazing! This is incredible!" And I   swear to you people were just saying that because  they wanted people to eat vegan, and I tried stuff   and I was like "this is absolutely disgusting! I do not know why you think this is nice!"   And I think it's okay to say like  "this is a vegan product but it tastes vile,"   you know? It's okay to have that opinion  and it's, so I think because we're so eager to make the change and to see everything shift, it can be really really tempting   to make out that everything is amazing and  everything is easy and why can't you just   do this because I did it and it's fabulous! Kate: I had to force myself!   Yeah, I had to force to say the truth and to  be honest, like you say, and say you know actually   cloth nappies could be really annoying when this  happens and that happens but there might be a way   around it, and it doesn't matter if you don't do it  all the time and it doesn't suit you to do it this   way or that way. Yeah, a really really important part of it.    Yeah and I think that as well it's about dropping the judgment of yourself and of  other people and allowing people to try things,   allowing people to do like meat-free Monday, or  use a cloth nappy once a week, or whatever it is,   you know because it is like Katherine says it's habit forming and they're not   gonna magically, overnight form a habit that they  do this thing all the time, you know, people need   to ease into it and learn how to do it because  it is often a very different way of living, it's   not as simple as oh you just replaced this for  that, it's all the other things   that go into it, and so it can be baby steps, it can  be you know, well try this. And I think that's, I'm   obviously going to be like this is where social  media comes in, because I do think social media is   a really powerful place to cheer people on who are  trying and to, instead of responding with like Kate saying when planting planting the trees,  instead of responding with like "that's not good   enough, why are you, why did you choose that  company? Why are you doing that and not this?" To   respond more with like "that's amazing that you're  doing that, here's what I learned, I was   going to do that," and share your own experience,  rather than coming at it from a place of like   "you're not doing enough! You're not, how  come you don't understand that this is wrong?"   and that level of judgment. So I do think it  is really helpful through social media to be   able to put out, as well your own journey because  you're then able to influence people without like   Katie says, like having to stand up and go "hey I'm  vegan and I eat these things and you should too,"   you just get to share your own like what you're  eating, how you're living, what you're doing,   and if people are interested they can say "well  okay can you send me that recipe? Where did you buy   that thing? How do you find doing this?" Virginia: Do you know what that does, Alexis, is a   fundamental thing that human beings have in their  mind otherwise we wouldn't be here now, it's to   conserve, so to preserve the status quo as it  is obviously because that's our instinct so we are   generally speaking afraid of change, but the way  forward in that sense and what you're saying about   you know trying this or the social media element,  is to lower the barriers. When you    manage to lower the barriers to something which  is completely unfamiliar for lots of people still,   sustainability, ethical, etc, then you give them  an opportunity to dip their toes into the water   without falling into the water and sort  of overcoming that fear of change, that fear of   the difference which unfortunately is  what create division in the world anyway.   So I think the key for every ethical business  is really to try and reduce that difficulty,   that barrier, understand your customers so that  you can help them along the way to say okay,   it's not that scary, you can try it, if you don't  like it no problem, you know, move on, it's okay,   and I think that will make a huge difference  from preaching like some people really like doing,   especially in the vegan community, somehow you  know preaching is the way forward but actually   don't convince anyone with preaching, nobody  wants to be preached at, so I think is that   helpful, hopefully being helpful and lowering  barriers that will make a difference.  

Katie:

Yeah definitely, and just being kind to  people who are on a journey. I think like a lot of,   I keep going on about the vegan thing because  it's the the single biggest change, habits shift   that I've made in my life but something that  I always say to people is it took me 35 years   to get to the point I'm at so I don't expect  you overnight to go through this whole journey   and go through all the thought processes  that I went through because it took me   until five years ago to get to that point.   And different people have different priorities.   That person might have been using solid shampoo  for 20 years before I even knew it existed, like   everybody, and I think you have to also be kind of  understanding of other people's priorities, like   someone else might care a lot more about  not using plastic and about ocean plastic   than they do about animal welfare and you have  to understand and be compassionate about the   fact that not everybody is going to have exactly  the same set of priorities and in the same order   as you are and the kinder we all are to each  other about just making the small changes   the better, because we like  a bit of kindness don't we!

Alexis:

Yeah and I will add as well for consumers who are  looking to support, because obviously everybody   knows you can buy from ethical businesses,  like that's a no-brainer, but also   engaging with ethical businesses on social  media and reviewing their products and services,   like please, if you have bought something, or  somebody's bought you something as a gift,   find out where it was from and go  and leave a review, that makes such a huge   difference, especially to small businesses and it's  something that we often forget to do, especially if   we really enjoyed a product. If we hated it we're  much more inclined to come and leave a review!   So a little challenge for everybody  listening, go and leave a review. Find   a product from an ethical business or a  sustainable business that you have lurking around somewhere, go and leave a review for it  so that you can support that business.   Thank you so much for being here, this has been  fabulous, I have very much enjoyed this chat.   I will whiz round now and ask you to promote your  most favourite social media profile, if anybody   wants to find any of these wonderful people, all  the links will be in the description so please   go click around, but shout out your favourite  social media profiles at the moment. Mandy.

Mandy:

Goodness Goodies at Instagram.   Oh do you mean my profile? I'm confused. Alexis: Yes your profile, yeah your profile.

Alexis:

Kate.

Kate:

Kate.Stansfield.Translations Yeah Instagram probably, also over on LinkedIn.

Katherine:

LinkedIn for me, so Katherine Byam on LinkedIn and Where Ideas Launch on   Instagram, so that's my podcast. Virginia: For me is LinkedIn as well Virginia Cinquemani.   I don't know whether but if you type, I suppose  Virginia the Green Gorilla you will find me.

Katie:

So I mainly hang out on Instagram and  I'm Little Green Duck over there but you can also  find me under my own name, Katie Skelton, on LinkedIn. Alexis: Very good, and I am Alexis Bushnell   on Instagram and also LinkedIn. Thank you so  much for being here, thank you for the the lovely   comments we have had as well, this has been  fabulous. Like I say, all of the links to everybody   who has been here will be in the show notes, in  the description, so you can go and follow them and   support these fabulous businesses. Thank you for  being here.

Katherine:

And happy Earth Day to everyone!