Source your product
Knowing where your products come from, who makes them and how they’re made is important for any business, even more so for social or environmental enterprises. It’s no good raising awareness for environmental issues if what you’re selling comes from a factory that puts chemicals into rivers or doesn’t look after employees.
“I went out to see the producers in India,” says Beth. “They have a big heart in the way that they employ people and work closely with a programme in Bangladesh that aims to empower vulnerable women. Many of them have escaped enforced prostitution and live in rural areas without many sources of income.” She has also been to Ecuador to visit the women who make bags for her through a similar programme.
Figuring out the details of how and where your product will be made can often be time-consuming. It took Rachel a year to research alternatives to plastic, source and audit suppliers and design her toothbrushes, made from bamboo with nylon bristles. “Until there’s an effective, biodegradable alternative, I’ve had to use nylon bristles - I can’t compromise on dental health,” she says. “But you can pull out the bristles before composting or disposing of the toothbrush handle, so that means the toothbrushes are 95% biodegradable.”
Maxim has also found that it’s taken lots of time and experimentation to craft a product that ticks all the boxes. His pasta straws are flavourless, vegan, biodegradable, edible, zero-waste and can be used in drinks for more than an hour.