Sustainable Business is the Key to the Future of our Planet

by Kate Stewart

Sustainable business is the key to the future of our planet. This is something I don't just want to say, but I want to do something about.

It is great to see some truly sustainable businesses stepping up and showing the way. I have always thought that just because we have always run businesses a certain way, it doesn’t mean that they can’t change direction and become more sustainable. Ensuring we have a healthy, sustainable, natural environment long term will help businesses truly thrive.

Being a mother of two small children I worry about the future of our planet. What am I leaving for my children? What will it be like when my kids are my age?  What sort of planet will they inherit?  

What I have realised is how hard it is for me as an individual to make a real difference to the big picture. Instead, I see my power lies in focusing on what I can control. 

 

Stay tray Drink Carrier

 

A true inspiration for myself personally, and for the development of Stay tray has been Rose Marcario, former CEO of outdoor apparel brand Patagonia. In November 2019, Rose announced Patagonia would donate $10 million to nonprofit groups committed to improving the environment. The $10 million was saved after Donald Trump cut US business tax from 35 to 21%. Trump's tax cuts meant huge savings for some of the biggest businesses in the world. 

Rose said “Being a responsible company means paying your taxes in proportion to your success and supporting your state and federal governments, which in turn contribute to the health and well-being of civil society’

This was a huge lift for me. Here was a global company who just got it. Patagonia’s actions inspired me to develop Stay tray. Rose’s words inspired me to go the extra mile.

There simply wasn’t a sustainable solution out there to carry multiple drinks. When I would go to a coffee shop near me for my morning coffee, I would take my KeepCups, but I would have to use a disposable cardboard tray to carry my cups home. The carboard trays would only be good for two or three uses. After this, they would be so bent out of shape I couldn’t safely carry my morning coffee. Yes, these carboard trays can be recycled or composted. However, recycling them uses energy and water in the recycling process and composting releases greenhouse gases.

I wanted to design a truly sustainable tray to replace single use drink trays found at every café nearby, and every coffee shop across the planet. It had to be made from plastic so it would last a lifetime, not one or two uses like the cardboard version. Patagonia’s actions had inspired me to go the extra mile and find a clean, reliable source of recycled plastic. I didn’t want to use virgin material when there is so much plastic already out there. Every piece of plastic ever manufactured still exists today. It chokes our rivers and creeks and litters our parks, beaches and oceans. It is buried in our landfills where it can take more than 500 years to break down. We need to find practical, sustainable solutions to rehome this material into great products that will make a difference. It is for this reason I only use 100% recycled plastics in the manufacture of Stay tray.

 Stay tray Drink Carrier

 

Where else could I make a difference with Stay tray? Designing a product to last a lifetime which replaces a single use drink tray was fantastic. Only using 100% recycled plastic was fabulous. But what else could I do? How could I make Stay tray a more sustainable business?

Making sure that Stay tray was Australian Made. Yes, I could definitely do that. But how could I go the extra mile? I could ensure that all design, engineering, and manufacture of Stay tray was undertaken within a 60 km radius of my home. It would have been half the price to engineer and manufacture overseas. However, it was really important to me to support the incredibly talented designers, engineers and manufactures right here in Australia. 

Many people don’t realize, most cardboard drink trays they get from a café nearby come from China or Malaysia. Before they are even used by the consumer, they have generated a significant amount of greenhouse gases just to travel to Australia. They are used once, then are recycled at best, where they use water and energy in the recycling process again and again.  At worst they are disposed to landfill where they generate greenhouse gases every time they break down. How many disposable cardboard trays do you use each year? One every day? One every week? Just think about the impacts behind each tray.

Now compare that to a reusable drink tray. Manufactured once for a lifetime. Never requiring it to be disposed or recycled. Designed to be used again, and again and again. Manufactured from 100% recycled plastic. Manufactured right here in Australia.  

Stay tray Cup Carrier

Was there anything else I could do? How could I go even further? I would love Stay tray to be an inspiration to someone else. Like Patagonia’s actions have been an inspiration to myself and Stay tray.

It was around this time that I learned about B Corporations. B Corporations represent an emerging group of businesses that are dedicated to using the power of business to create a positive impact on the planet. Not competing to be the best in the planet but rather, to be the best, for the planet.

Certified B Corporations balance purpose and profit. B Corporations make decisions that make positive impacts across their workers, customers, suppliers, community and the environment.

In 2020, Stay tray officially received B Corporation Certification.  This means that Stay tray meets the highest standards of social and environmental impact. At Stay tray, we understand that we are a part of something bigger. We have a responsibility to help solve the social and environmental challenges facing the world.

Imagine if every business strived to be this sustainable. I think the world would look like a very different place. I can only hope that is where we are headed.