Making greener choices and getting better every step of the way isn’t easy. We’re proud to work with Green Story and their co-founder, Akhil Sivanandan.
You may have seen data provided by their app on our homepage or you may have checked out our impact report. We recently had the pleasure of chatting with Akhil about working with Brave Soles, Green Story, and his goal of seeing 1 billion people make greener choices.
For our readers, can you tell us a little about how you started working with Brave Soles?
Akhil - I started working with Christal through the Social Ventures Zone in Toronto. Christal knew she was doing something that had a strong impact, however she was also aware that she didn’t just want Brave Soles to become another passing story. I was very impressed by her active need for that transparency in her storytelling. She wanted to really make sure that what she's doing is actually impactful to the people and the environment around her. She wanted the raw data, and a trusted third party to back up her claims as well as provide the much needed transparency for her customers. That's where we came in. We’ve worked with over 50 clients like Brave Soles over the last three years with our platform.
How did you get the idea for Green Story?
Akhil - Have you ever seen Starbucks' sustainability reports? 99% of people haven't, but it's beautifully written. I really wanted to change that. My cofounder (Navodit Babel) and I began to think of ways to make it easy for every company to be green AND show their impact. That was the start of Green Story.
Instead of getting consumers to go into the sustainability report and not read anything, we wanted to bring sustainability into the consumer's journey. We come from an MBA background and we'd done some work around the idea of behavioral economics and how people make choices. The idea was that it has to start from the customer's journey with the brand, allowing them to witness the difference they make as they go through their purchase.
What can the impact of many people making greener choices look like?
Akhil - We all make purchasing choices every day. People can take that one extra step to make it a greener choice. Take, for example, buying a cup of coffee. If you buy organic coffee, you save on average about 30 liters of water. Imagine then, having that same cup of coffee every day over the course of a year —you're saving a swimming pool worth of water!
For an organic shirt, it’s even more! You can save up to 2,000 liters of water. Multiply that by a billion people. We just kept thinking about the effects of 1 billion people making greener choices. That's like our "big, hairy audacious goal" that we would like to see happen.
We wanted to ask you about your data. Is there a lot of behind-the-scenes research going on and getting those numbers?
Akhil - We're actually completely transparent with how we do it. It's an internationally recognized process. So there is no secret sauce and it's just a lot of hard work. We have access to a massive sustainability database. We can go in and figure out, based on the supply chain, where everything is coming from. There is an international methodology, the ISO standards, which we base the life cycle analysis on. We're not reinventing the wheel, we're looking at what's the best wheel and using that.
With all of this data and all of this information are you hopeful for the future? Or does seeing all this data make you realize we've got a long way to go?
Akhil - It's funny you should ask that. I recently talked with a well-known sustainable thinker. He was saying it's kind of depressing to see all the negative news around sustainability. He said it makes you lose hope. The way I think about it is that we might as well go down fighting. I think there is hope. Consumers are holding companies to a higher standard. We can learn to work together towards a common goal and sustainability is about the common goal of survival. I think that'll come eventually.
In the meantime, there are so many great entrepreneurs and companies which understand that consumers want to be more sustainable and are aiming to fulfill that need in the market. Those companies have proven beyond a shadow of doubt that the people want to see change happen. That gives me a lot of hope. Enough to think we can turn this around before all the arctic ice melts.