Discover how the minds, methods and money that fueled the explosion of innovation and disruption in silicon valley are working to build the technology, products and companies that will save the planet. Hosts: Lex Kiefhaber and Tony Noto. Music: Bill Gagliardi.
Recycling Isn't Cutting It, and the GoodGoods is Here to Solve That
Zach Lawless is one of the few people I've met who's gets just as worked up about all the ways recycling isn't all it's made out to be as Jess Miles does. And that's saying something.
Zach founded the GoodGoods to step in where recycling falls short, creating a closed loop process of reusing products instead of the energy intensive, largely wasteful, and often downright duplicitous promise of recycling. They work with local wine shops to collect empty bottles from customers, wash them, then reuse them. Simple, but also wildly complicated... tune in to get in the weeds.
Before it was the GoodGoods, Zach started another company focused on delivering fresh meals to people in reusable containers. That model was largely focused on office spaces, and when the pandemic hit they had to pivot the business pretty much over night. Zach pull back the curtain on what that it's like being a CEO in times of stress and transition, why he believes sustainability is a good business and what it takes to take the leap of entrepreneurship.
How Madeline Fraser Created The Warby Parker of Jewelry Companies
Madeline Fraser came up with the idea for Gemist when she tried to design herself a custom ring. The ordeal proved successful but a headache. How is it that the custom jewelry process is so antiquated? The serial entrepreneur had an idea: let the consumer be in charge. After all, one size does not fit all when it comes to jewelry design. And so she brought the industry into the modern age with a unique home try-on experience (akin to Warby Parker eyeglasses). Not only that, the company's jewelry is handmade in Downtown Los Angeles using sustainable materials and ethical practices. That's enough to bring a twinkle to our eyes!
Public Habit is Breaking the Fashion Supply Chain to Rebuild A Better One
After six years working at Amazon, Sydney Badger had bigger dreams than maximizing efficiency. But, she also had a black-belt in maximizing efficiency. Public Habit is the marriage of expert supply chain optimization and, that most human of things, soul.
Public Habit is a made-to-order clothing company specializing in high end wool and cashmere products. Fashion, as we know it, is built on a model of planned obsolescence: items either go out of style or break down, forcing the customer to continuously refresh their wardrobe and further perpetuating the wasteful machine of commerce. Sydney seeks to flip that model on its head by only making clothes after the consumer has ordered them, reducing returns, virtually eliminating overstocked inventory, and allowing for optimization of material use and supply chain dynamics by shipping directly from factory to consumer.
Sustainability is a many faceted concept, and as of yet, perfection is still an ambition rather than a crossable rubicon. Sydney sources her materials from high-quality farms in Mongolia and other Asian sources, and manufactures the garments in China. The shipping is by far the most costly (in environmental terms) aspect of the business. But she believes that if we can slightly change consumer preferences, scale up the business model, and reach a threshold of demand, than the processes of manufacturing which are currently only available in China can be re-created in domestically, cutting down on the travel time while keeping all the efficiency.
We're all in the process of progress together, and as someone famous once said (my money's still on Voltaire but the debate continuous), we can't let better the be enemy of good. Public Habit is showing the fashion industry how to create supply chains that reduce waste to the benefit of the collective good while itself always striving to do better, and in our book, that's damn fine work.
What If Chemicals Were Made Out of Corn Instead of Carbon?
The answer, at its most maximalist expression, a significant reduction in the 30% of greenhouse gasses released through the production of heavy industry. The people making that hypothesis a reality? Meet Sean and G, founders of Solugen.
The chemical industry is a multi-billion dollar dynamo that most consumers rarely, if ever, confront in their day to day lives. We don't spend much time digging into how our treatment plants work, what goes into the manufacturing of plastic, or any of the other countless industrial processes which use chemicals. However, the chemicals used to facilitate the production of the stuff we buy, use, and experience every day, are a massive contributor to our global greenhouse gas emissions and use of petro-chemicals in manufacturing.
Solugen has developed a means of using an enzymatic reaction to create cost-competitive chemical substitutes from corn syrup instead of synthetics. They've built something less expensive, safer, and better for the planet. No surprise they're hurtling their way to unicorn status- by the time you're reading this they'll likely have announced the close of their series C round vaulting them to past the billion-dollar valuation into the unicorn stratosphere.
In this episode we talk about the business, how it is and will continue to infuse sustainable practices into a notoriously intransigent business segment, and also the journey they went on from sleeping on warehouse floors to maximizing the time value of their terrestrial existence. For those brands out there considering a better, more sustainable alternative, reach out at info @ solugentech dot com.
And for those wondering, that picture on the show cover, that's their original sketch of how this good work. If you were wondering what a billion dollar cocktail looked like, now you know.
Picturing a Better World with KT Merry
Yes, that's a photography pun. I'm a dad, the jokes come with the gig.
KT Merry is an internationally recognized high-end destination photographer who moonlights as a conservationist, traveling the world capturing images of endangered and at risk animals to generate revenue for the organizations seeking to keep those animals this side of extinct. Render Loyalty is her side-hustle and soul-salve, using the talents she's acquired professionally to explore and develop the passion she has for the environment. She's proving every day that when we do whatever we can, big or small, it matters, and our lives are made richer for it.
Making Sustainable Jewelry from (below) the Ground Up
Extracting metals from the earth is, by nature, not a sustainable practice. We have a finite amount of resources, after all. However, that doesn't mean that all methods of mining are created equal.
Anna Bario, one half of the Bario Neal team, joins us this week to discuss how her company created a whole new vocabulary to define sustainability in the jewelry industry. From working with Artisanal Small-Scale Minors (ASM), developing a standardized code of conduct with her suppliers, using re-furbished or reclaimed metals and gems when possible, and educating her customer base about what sustainable practices they should be aware of and seek out, Bario Neal is establishing a new paradigm for wholistic, conscious and sustainable jewelry.
And, because Jess Miles is invovled, you know there has to be a book list. Some of the titles discussed here:
The Ends of the World, by Peter Brannen
The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert
This Changes Everything by Naomi Kline
Hopeful and uplifting
Such an uplifting and educational podcast series. It really has opened my eyes to all of the amazing work people are doing to create a healthier and more sustainable world!
Thankful fo Jenn Harper
As a Native it was gratifying to hear the interview with Harper. It helped that Jess was also a Native and that she identified with Jenn’s experiences. Such an easy to listen to story, even the tough parts. Well done. And now, I’m going to shop Native because I can.
Inspiring!! A must listen!