There's a vast body of trade and academic research on green consumers - a recent academic literature review discusses and integrates findings from over 900 papers. What's becoming increasingly apparent is that a large percentage of people want to shop more sustainably, but find buying green time-consuming and difficult.
Consumers need help living their green values
Non-toxic and organic textiles? Consumer eletronics with recycled and recyclable materials? Appliances with low carbon life-cycles?
All of these products are currently available, - if you know where to look. There are numerous new brands making great products with a green ethos baked in, while incumbent businesses are redesigning their products and business models to become more sustainable.
Common Goods brings them all together, in an exciting retail concept that empowers consumers to buy in line with their values, support the new and trusted brands who are contributing to a better planet, and engage with a positive vision for an environmentally friendly future. Sort of like Whole Foods, for other things you need to buy.
Get in touch to find out more about Common Goods and get involved.
Ramnation is an experimental fashion micro-brand which aims to answer that question. The garments are designed according to cradle-to-cradle principles, using materials which are biodegradable or easily recycled, and eschewing all toxic chemicals.
The winter capsule collection is primarily composed of wool, sourced entirely in the UK from the fleeces of rare British breed sheep. Many of the yarns are undyed, making use of the breadth of naturally coloured fleeces. Using rare breed sheep supports biodiversity and resilience in the UK flock, while their fleeces have evolved with numerous desirable 'performance' characteristics.
The summer collection includes linens and silks, hand printed with a unique plant-based dyeing process.
The brand was launched at an event at the Truman Brewery, and has since participated in a number of trade and direct to public shows. The collections have been included in exhibitions in London, Berlin, and New York. Pieces have also been shown in select boutiques in London's Brick Lane and Sackville Street.
Get in touch to find out more about Ramnation or my published research into circular economy innovation in the garment industry.
A few short weeks prior to an international conference, the UK Department for International Development and the Gates Foundation engaged PwC to develop some strategies for leveraging corporate capabilities to advance family planning in developing countries.
Big problems, short timescales
In cooperation with two PwC consultants, I organised an ideas 'hackathon' with over 30 Imperial College Business School masters students to brainstorm ideas.
The consultants gave a short presentation with background on the inter-related social, religous, financial and medical aspects of the family planning issue. The group of students were asked to develop ideas for how firms could contribute to increasing awareness of family planning, and how the issue could align with their corporate values.
The workshop was held over three hours in a large open room, with students working in small teams with whiteboards and art supplies. At the end, students gave short presentations, outlining their concepts. The consultants captured all the presentations and whiteboard workings for later use.
Breadth of ideas
The student teams' presentations were varied in style and substance. One team presented a information dissemination strategy for Facebook, which combined with their Internet.org initiative. Another described a personalised mobile phone-based medical service, with recommendations for service providers. A third listed different types of firms that were likely to be operating in developing regions, what useful capabilities they had and how family planning fit into their objectives. Examples included mining companies with access to young men as a health & safety issue, and Western Union with its international network of local agents and family-care focussed advertising.
And... Science supports this?
In fact, research is beginning to support the efficacy of these traditional remedies. Hops and beer contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, flavonoids, proteins, essential oils and acids that have medicinal properties. Some compounds like Ferulic acid and Xanthohumol are proven to soothe skin and aid in wound healing. Others, like Humulone, are shown to have antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant attributes.
In fact, hop extract is already used as an ingredient in a variety of cosmetic formulations. And, while more reserach is needed, significant evidence exists to support the benefits of hops and beer extracts to skin and hair health.
Brewing waste to active cosmeceutical ingredient
In light of this, what is the potential for using hops and brewing waste as an active ingredient in cosmetic formulations? At present, trub is a waste product from brewing, with few uses and almost no value. Spent hops have slightly more value as a feed additive for livestock.
The potential for value here is substantial. Some limited additional processing and testing may be required, yet the base ingredients are already deemed to be safe for human consumption. Turning a waste product into a high value cosmetic additive is a significant economic opportunity.
Plus, the potential for brand or marketing value is obvious as well. The markets for natural cosmetics and male cosmetics are both experiencing double digit rate growth, and both are potential targets for beer-based active ingredients.
Mercury Media was an independent film distributor, selling films internationally across multiple channels. As broadband became more widespread, the potential for direct-to-consumer video streaming services became increasingly obvious. Numerous start-ups and incumbent media firms began trialling services, and the race was on to develop a viable model.
Joiningthedocs.tv was Mercury Media's concept for a consumer video streaming service focussed on high quality independent documentary content. Already a respected player in the B2B sector, Mercury was well placed to acquire high quality content from producers, other distributors and even broadcasters.
However, they lacked skills and experience in digital start-ups, product and user-experience design. I was initially brought in to handle product management and marketing, though I ended up acting in the product co-founder role. (Start-ups right?)
Over the course of one short year, I racked up a number of achievements including:
- Designed and wrote the business plan for a double-sided documentary platform, including service design for different groups and revenue models.
- Developed budgets and timelines for staged delivery of beta platform, and rollout to further stages.
- Researched, evaluated and procured external technology providers and development teams to deliver the required functionality.
- Wrote an EU MEDIA fund grant application which won €350k in funding for the year.
- Pitched to numerous investors and won £100k in private investment.
- Delivered a beta launch and demonstration platform at Sheffield Doc Fest.
At the same time, I was also managing a small marketing team, and producing and promotional materials for Mercury's sales team.
Illustration and newsletter, produced as part of an ongoing on-trade promotional campaign for Red Bull.