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Circular Economy

Car Free Day

Last month was #worldcarfreeday, an event organised by the World Carfree Network, the hub of the global car-free movement. Every year on or around 22 September, cities across the globe celebrate World Car-Free Day, encouraging motorists to give up their cars for a day.

Photo: Getty Images

With vehicle emissions being one of the main sources of outdoor air pollution, particularly in cities, this is an excellent initiative and one we applaud. Ambient air pollution alone caused some 4.2 million deaths in 2016, according to the World Health Organization.

The World Carfree Network says that the World Car-Free Day can be a showcase for just how our cities might look like, feel like, and sound like without cars… 365 days a year. We couldn’t agree more and to prove it, our family has nearly spent a full year without a car.

When we returned from our family gap year and sold Larry the Landcruiser, we chose not to replace him (it) and opted to try living car-free. Coming up on the one year anniversary of making that decision I thought it would be a good time to report on the experiment.

Firstly I should preface this discussion with the fact that we’re fortunate to live close to most things we need. If you didn’t live in a city and even then, reasonably close to the city centre, the decision to live car-free might be too challenging to consider. After taking this all into account we took the plunge and this is how it panned out.

From a professional standpoint we mostly work from shared office space River City Labs in Fortitude Valley about 6km from home. More recently we’ve been working from our new circular economy pop-up shop in the Wintergarden, but that’s only 8 kms from home. There are two train stations and numerous bus stops within a kilometre of home, so getting to work couldn’t be easier.

We’re less than a kilometre from the school both our daughters attend and we have a mid-sized shopping centre a similar distance away. There’s a fruit market, fish and chippery, pizzeria, bottlo and convenience store even closer, which help to fill in the gaps. The organised sporting activities we do — karate, AFL, tennis and hockey, are all local too.

Whether it’s good management or purely good luck, this all makes living without a car pretty straightforward. In saying that, it’s not always easy, but we’ve made changes to our lives to make it work. Everyone in the family has two feet and a heartbeat and so we’ve been known to walk from time to time. We have bikes for when walking isn’t an option and use buses, trains and ride-sharing services like Uber, Didi and Sheba.

More recently we bought an Inokim electric scooter for each family member. After being regular Lime scooter users upon their introduction, we decided to trial our own e-scooter for a few months. Within weeks we’d decided they were a fun, safe and ecologically friendly transport method and bought another 3; call them our fleet of personal Teslas if you like. E-Scooters are ideal for filling gaps between buses and trains and to get to other forms of transport such as car-sharing services.

 

Car sharing services such as Car Next Door and Go Get are perfect for those moments when nothing other than a car will do. They are slightly different in how they work, but essentially provide the same service — a fleet of cars spread across the city and suburbs that anyone can hire at any time. Whether it’s for an hour or two to run some errands or a full day to visit family or friends outside the public transport grid, both do the job well.

We prefer Car Next Door and use the service a few times a month. This service allows car owners to rent out their car when it’s not in use; it quite literally enables you to borrow your neighbour’s car (if they’re a participant) and because you only pay for what you use, it’s far more cost effective than owning a car. With most cars only being used for about 5% of their lifespan, we see this as a great way for car owners to unlock more of the underutilised value in the asset and to help people who don’t own cars (like us) get easy, low cost, sporadic use of a motor vehicle when required.

We should point out that while the Car Next Door app and it’s alternatives are good for short distances, they aren’t very cost effective for longer journeys. The all-inclusive hourly charge plus per kilometre fee (fuel, insurance, wear & tear) is great if you’re ducking across town and back, but a 200 kilometre round trip will set you back $100 or more, using even the cheapest cars on their books.

For longer trips we use car hire and fortunately there’s an app for that too. Rentalcars.com gets us a small/medium car for a whole weekend for about the same money as a long single trip using a car sharing service. We don’t do it often, but once a quarter or so we’ll arrange to pick up a hire car on a Friday, drop it back on the Monday and only pay around $100 for the privilege. We even get our insurance at about 20% of what the car hirer would charge via another app.

With RACQ citing even the cheapest car ownership costs at $6000 per annum in their 2019 Private Vehicle Expenses Report, we think we’re ahead of the game by a considerable amount. Even if we’re not that far ahead of the game in terms of costs, we know that we are miles ahead in the environmental stakes and given what we do for a living, that feels good.

Our family’s time without a car has certainly been an experience, especially after being reliant on cars since we were in our late teens. Knowing we can survive without a car has been priceless, as I’m not sure car ownership will be the norm going forward. With the huge environmental price the planet pays for car ownership, I think improved public transport networks combined with personal transportation devices such as bikes & e-scooters and car and ride sharing platforms, owning a car will become less and less desirable.

Will not owning a car become the default? While it seems far-fetched today, I no longer think it’s out of the realms of possibility. Take a look at your car inventory and see what you might be able to live without!!

Retail’s new disruptor? The resale market!

We’ve known it was coming for a long time! Watch out fast fashion, second-hand clothing is about to overtake you.

According to Scott Galloway New York University business professor and renowned tech pundit, “The new disrupter in retail, the new gangster that’s going to create hundreds of billions in shareholder value is the second-hand resale market.” And who’s driving it? Young people according to Mr Galloway.

The predicted growth of the secondhand fashion market versus fast fashion. Source: Section4

Yas with one of our first shoppers!!

And this concurs with other research we’ve been finding. The resale apparel industry is growing 21x faster than the standard retail apparel industry (thredUP) and millennials are cashing in. 61% of millennials sold something in the last year, compared to 54% of Gen X and 51% of baby boomers. The number of people selling second hand clothing, homewares, games and toys and electronic goods has doubled since 2011 (Gumtree, SHE report), with clothing, shoes and accessories now the most popular items to sell.

Further research from the US indicates that the second-hand clothing market will grow from $US24 billion ($35.5 billion) in the US in 2018, to $US64 billion by 2028. While fast fashion will continue to grow it won’t be at the same rate – from $US35 billion to $US44 billion in 2028.

Now is the time for businesses to be innovating and providing options for consumers to buy second-hand products. In a survey by Amplify talking to 2000 Australians aged 18 to 30, “1 in 3 felt passionately about the environment and sustainability, demonstrating they are actively trying to tackle this problem.”

34% also believe brands should be leading the way when it comes to saving the Planet, with 4 out of 10 want the brands they buy to make the world better and almost the same want the brands they buy to reflect their values.

And given the success of ‘If The Shoe Fits’, Brisbane’s first Circular Economy Pop-up, in the heart of Brisbane’s CBD at the Wintergarden this Brisbane Fashion Month the research appears to match market demand!

Drop in and visit our friendly team at shop 14 in the Brisbane Wintergarden  for the new circular economy way of shopping – putting your money towards people, planet and purpose!

 

Declutter your Dormant Goods!

Spring has sprung and we all know that means cleaning out all the old rag-dag winter clothes to make way for a fabulous summer wardrobe. Spring cleaning and decluttering that winter wardrobe can be tricky – it’s hard to know what to keep, what to donate or whether you should really throw out your high school senior jersey that you never wear anymore. You know you should probably throw it out, but the thought of it sitting on a rotting pile of landfill makes your eyes a little watery. 

You wonder how you’re going to get rid of this jumper that’s just taking up space in your cupboard? Will the jumper end up in landfill waste? Will a charity shop take this garment? How do you get rid of something you have an emotional attachment to? All these questions can induce you into an anxiety riddled state, but don’t worry, this article has you sorted!

War on Waste

ABC War on Waste - Craig Reucassel and Fast Fashion!

According to the ABC’s war on waste documentary, “Australia is one of the most wasteful countries in the developed world.” There is a growing culture of convenience, fast fashion and furniture/appliances that are not built to last more than 2-3 years. Australians have developed a throw-away society: 

  • 6000kg of clothes are thrown out every 10 minutes, equating to 36 000kg every hour. 
  • 30% of clothing items end up in landfills and even if you donate old clothes to a charity, if the items are not in good condition, it’s landfill. 
  • The same goes for furniture and appliances. 85% of household items that are put out for the good old kerbside collection end up as landfill and are not recycled.

 

These statistics are daunting, but there are a few rules you can follow to successfully organise your home into different waste types in order to effectively make the most of your spring cleaning efforts, taking into account your contribution to household landfill. 

Declutter your Home

  1. Declutter in Stages: An article by Sirin Kale (The Guardian) advises not to declutter all at once. instead, break up your decluttering into smaller, more manageable goals. Spend 10 minutes a day decluttering or declutter three times a week focusing on different areas. 
  2. Set Measurable Goals: Nicola Lewis, organising expert and author of Mind Over Clutter, (Good Housekeeping UK) also recommends decluttering should be an activity you can enjoy by setting measurable goals. For example I’ll declutter my wardrobe in the month of spring, spending 1hr each week focused on different sections until I’m satisfied.
  3. Get Organised: The next step is to organise the declutter into separate piles to keep things organised. The list below is a great way to start:
    1. Retain 
    2. Repair
    3. Repurpose
    4. Rehome
    5. Recycle and 
    6. Resource Recovery (the absolute last resort). 

World’s Biggest Garage Sale - Dormant Goods for Good!

 

Elizabeth Larkin from The Spruce also suggests labeling bins with the above and keeping them in a centralised room within your home. 

Review and Hand-on

So, you’ve organised your declutter chaos and spread out the clean up into organised groups, what next? The next step is absolutely vital, so let’s go through the list again:

    1. Retain – take all your cherished treasured items and organise them in your home.
    2. Repair – for any items that need repair there are several resources out there to assist – visit one of almost 1000 Men’s Shed in Australia, consult iFixit online that has over 54,000 repair guides or drop-in to a local Repair Cafe or launch one yourself!!
    3. Repurpose – try turning those old clothes into household rags, washcloths or scrubbing/polishing cloths; old bags into washing baskets and old containers into desk/stationary storage. Repurposing is always a fantastic way to recommission those old goods into something new. Give your goods to Substation33 and they can disassemble the parts and turn them into something new!!
    4. Renew – Ministry of Handmade run workshops to help you try a fresh coat of paint/fabric, giving your old goods new life or turning them into household decor!
    5. Rehome– Donate items that are in good condition or good working order to local charities (St. Vincent de Paul, Lifeline, Salvos, Red Cross and many more) and for those dormant goods that you can’t bear to part with but rarely use/need (think awesome cocktail dress you can’t wear anymore but still love) World’s Biggest Garage Sale is the place for you.
    6. Recycle – Place anything recyclable in your home recycling bin and for all other items consult Planet Ark’s comprehensive Recycling Near You website and familiarise yourself with what can be recycled in your local area.
    7. Resource Recover (the absolute last resort) – after going through the exhaustive list above, there should be very few items that go into rubbish (aka landfill) and for those that do, remember them and think twice before purchasing something like it again, that is hard to dispose of at end of life. Consider calling on 1800-GOT-JUNK to take away any items you’re unsure of – they ensure that your rubbish is recycled, donated, or otherwise disposed of responsibly.

 

Spring is such a fabulous time of the year!! Hopefully this article has given you some tips and tricks to help you declutter and breathe new life into your home, while responsibly handling the resources that flow in and out of your life!

Happy decluttering!

Profit for Purpose – Bringing Heart Back to Business

It’s a confronting and vulnerable experience putting yourself out there on national TV wearing a love heart on your chest and professing your desire to build a business based on people, planet and profit for purpose. Now we are preparing for our seed round this is the perfect opportunity to explore our triple bottom line focus.

Someone recently said to me, ‘oh you’re a not-for-profit’ and I said ‘no actually we’re profit for purpose’ and they looked at me confused, seeking clarification.

Profit for Purpose

To put everyone in the picture a “Profit for Purpose” business is ‘led by a mission to achieve social, community and environmental benefit through trading and by channeling a portion of their profits toward their mission.’ (1)

And this is exactly how we operate – mobilising dormant goods and harnessing the circular economy leading to reduced waste while simultaneously creating profit for purpose for our customers who host events. To cement this even further we are in the process of formalising as a B Corps which means we:

  • Aim to meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose and
  • we will use profits and growth as a means to a greater end: positive impact for employees, communities, and the environment. (2)

But my question to everyone is “when did we start forgetting about purpose and just go full tilt at profit?”. And when I say purpose, that doesn’t include a purpose that revolves around just making profit! In venture capital land the chase is still very much focused on lassoing the next Unicorn. Why is doing good for people and planet, plus doing well financially, considered a crazy far-flung concept?

Borrowing from Ted Rheingold, a common question from investors is:

Q: ‘Why don’t you just earn your wealth first, and then donate it afterward?”

A: ‘Why don’t you want to build a highly profitable business that can provide impact more reliably than your future donations?’ (3)

To the investors out there my question to you is: “Take a long hard look at the why of a company, and I mean the real why (not the ‘to make profit’ why) and check whether they’re trying to make the world a better place, not just disrupt existing systems, gather a whole swagger of followers in a short space of time and make quick gains.”

Businesses Aligned to Purpose

I was really heartened by our RiverPitch experience, particularly when I heard Yohan Ramasundara President of the ACS say “It’s really exciting, startups are exciting and ones (startups) with a purpose are even more exciting (because they’re going) to change the world.”

And what is business really? Businesses are teams of people aligned to a common vision, who provide goods and services, to help others by solving problems. If they’re guided by Milton Friedman’s concept that the ‘only social responsibility of companies is to create profit’ then I think current sentiment would agree they are misguided.  Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock certainly believes we need to move in a different direction, “As wealth shifts and investing preferences change, environmental, social, and governance issues will be increasingly material to corporate valuations.”

We need to remember that we all spend so much of our waking lives working in business or interacting with business – whether it’s yours or someone else’s. Surely we want businesses to be led not just by profit, but to be underpinned by a basic human decency that requires care (aka love) for our environment and the community.

As the Spellbinder from Robin Sharma’s The 5am Club said:

“The great women and men of the world were all givers, not takers.  Renounce the common delusion that those who accumulate the most win. Instead do work that is heroic – that staggers your marketplace by the quality of its originality as well as from the helpfulness is provides.”

We want to live and breathe this at World’s Biggest Garage Sale and build a profitable business, where people come to work expressing the best versions of themselves while helping others and solving the world’s problems. We want to activate the circular economy and reduce waste and give a large portion of the wealth generated from this enterprise back to the community along the way. And on this journey we want to address as many of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals as we possibly can and demonstrate a new type of business model that can help achieve #agenda2030.

Patient Capital

We’re looking for investors who are aligned to our vision, for people who are patient with their capital (not greedily needing a return asap) to be part of a business that aims to provide impact every step of the way. As Vicki Saunders, SheEO Founder says:

“The pursuit of maximizing profit at the expense of everything else has created a global crisis of inequality, environmental degradation and countless critical challenges to humanity.

Only considering financial returns has led to a winner takes all mindset where 5 people have the same wealth as half the planet. This economic model is entirely broken and needs a radical rethinking.”

Original Image: Brian Trelstad, Kauffman Fellows

 

With that in mind, the capital we have in mind comes for a person who thinks long term and is comfortable with the following:

  • Longer time horizon for return of capital
  • Forgoing maximum financial returns for greater social impact
  • Unwillingness to sacrifice the interests of the end customer/employees/community/environment  for shareholder gains
  • Greater tolerance for risk than traditional investment capital

This diagram demonstrates our position really well.

 

As a profit for purpose company, we strive for more than just a sustainable business model that creates wealth from waste in the community.  Our passion and purpose is a triple bottom line focus, with community and sustainability (including the Sustainable Development Goals….aka the SDGs or #globalgoals) equal measures in the success of our scaling journey. We genuinely agree with Richard Branson

 

‘The brands that will thrive in the coming years are the ones that have a purpose beyond profit’

 

We are excited to be opening our Seed Investment Round. Please contact us if you would like to learn more.

 

References

 

  1. https://food-x.com/profit-purpose-business-model-whose-time-come/
  2. https://bcorporation.com.au/about-b-corps
  3. https://www.fastcompany.com/40420834/the-non-paradox-of-highly-successful-profit-from-purpose-businesses

Take Action in Your Business to Help Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals

SDG Action Awards

Coming up soon is the Global Festival of Action “to showcase the latest innovations, tools and approaches to SDG advocacy and SDG action.” Held every year in Bonn, Germany, the festival recognises individuals, groups and organisations “who are advancing the global movement for the Sustainable Development Goals in the most transformative, impactful and innovative way” via the UN SDG Action Awards.  We encourage you to check out these businesses and find inspiration in what others are doing.

“To meet the SDGs we need everyone to take action.” SDG Action Awards

Australian businesses CEO Statement of Support for SDGs

Together with several other countries, Australia has signed up to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – a blueprint for action to “promote prosperity while protecting the planet”. Australia’s participation started on 1 January 2016 and runs until the end of 2030. Further to this in September of that same year, over 30 Australian companies signed a CEO Statement of Support for the Sustainable Development Goals. We applaud their commitment and contribution to realising a sustainable future for Australia and the world.

 

SDG Private Sector Importance

This points to the importance of the private sector and the critical role businesses will play in achieving the SDGs. As Alice Cope, Executive Manager of the Global Compact Network Australia said, “We are seeing companies embrace the SDGs both in recognition of the critical role they have in contributing to the agenda but also the upside to their businesses in doing so. The SDGs provide a framework for both risk management and opportunity.” “

 

Businesses that are able to offer solutions to the local and global sustainability challenges represented by the goals will build resilience, find new markets and position themselves competitively for the future,” Ms Cope.

 

WBGS and the SDGs

At WBGS we are all about action. Our events that promote the circular economy and facilitate activation of dormant goods for good, directly impact SDG goals:

  • 1 (No Poverty),
  • 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities),
  • 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) 
  • 13 (Climate Action) and
  • are realised by goal 17 (Partnerships for the Goals).

The goals that our activities target through the community and grassroots activities are:

  • 3 (Good Health and Well-being),
  • 5 (Gender Equality),
  • 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and
  • 9 (Industry Innovation and Infrastructure).

Finally from funds raised at our events we can partner with other organisations to direct impact to the remaining goals.

In order for the SDGs to be realised by 2030, it’s going to take a global effort, with a local grassroots foundation and a realisation that we are more connected than we are divided. We all impact one another, and businesses can dovetail more sustainably into others. Partnerships (SDG17), collaborating with government, the private sector and the community were key to how WBGS got started. As stated at a UN press conference: “We will need all partners to make this a success.” 

 

SDG Workshop

We want to help your business take action, so this May we are partnering with THE IMPACT FACULTY and The University of Queensland Centre for Policy Futures to deliver Sustainable Development Goals for Business. This is a one day workshop on the United Nations #SDGs to help you map the SDGs to your current plans and learn from other case studies.

Business engagement is key to achieving #agenda2030. Come and spend a day learning how to align and action the #SDGs in your business. If you would like to know more or to register your attendance please see Event details or use the link in our comments section!