In August 2020 I signed on to be the legislative coordinator for Surfrider Oahu. At the time I did not know what this meant, but I knew I cared about the cause and I wanted to give back to the amazing community.
Shortly after joining this group I was asked if I would like to take part in helping with the single use plastic bill, little did I know the extent of this bill, the work involved, and how it would ultimately influence my life. After four months of nonstop work with an entirely new group of people that had known each other for years and had been working for over a decade, we somehow, magically, passed a single use plastic band. I couldn't believe I had worked on this for only 4 months and was fortunate enough to witness success, after my peers had witnessed so many years of failure.
This was to become the first of many single use plastic bans in Hawaii, and the language of our bill was to be replicated and shared across the world soon after.
So what does this have to do with this environmental marketing agency? Well, what I realized through the process of this bill was how important it was to have the input and support of all stakeholders. And in this case, the most important stakeholders were the small businesses who are already using non-plastic materials, high-quality ingredients, and going above and beyond for the customers and the climate, despite the cost.
However a few things stood out to me
1) cost was an issue for small businesses regardless. It often meant smaller margins, less staff, shorter hours, and more strain on the business owners.
2) many of these sustainable businesses were willing to drop anything to speak up for the planet and why they were doing what they were doing- they truly cared
3) most of the sustainable businesses were very small or offered limited products
4) there was a ton of misinformation in the community about the "cost" affiliated with being environmentally conscious
5) these small businesses wanted to grow but they needed help from someone who understood and believed in their mission
6) there were businesses who wanted to do better and didn't know where to begin
7) there were opportunities for businesses to come together and help each other but they needed that middleman
8) there was a huge desire for this change amongst the youth and all who enjoy outdoor adventures and recreation
9) there was an apparent trend in society, coupled with the trend in government mandates happening
10) sustainability was here to stay, but it was a new topic and it required more education.
Being a business major, one thing I kept thinking about was economies of scale and margins. How can be drive prices down so businesses can scale, make more money, and provide a more affordable product to all. Environmental justice is a big enough issue and finding ways to make eco-friendly products more affordable and accessible is one of the many ways in which we can begin to tackle this issue.
Economies of scale is a pretty simple concept: there is known financial security brought about with a large purchase order. This can decrease the per unit cost affiliated with assembly lines and production expenses, drive down cost of each item to the producer and the consumer, and increase margins for the producers.
So how does all this economic talk apply to bill 40 and PlanIt? Well these small business can only order so many sets of compostable service ware and containers, causing the price to go up. There can also only so much buy in from consumers and demand for organic, local and sustainable, if there are enough options so that it feels normal. There needs to be variety so they don’t feel deprived and the prices are cannot be astronomical or they will feel robbed.
Now, enter my idea for my environmental marketing agency, PlanIt.
1) I wanted to create a way to simultaneously bring these small businesses together so they can uplift and collaborate
2) I wanted to help them to grow so they can order more and their prices can decrease which allows for a more diverse customer base
3) I wanted to educate businesses about the sustainable options that exist so they can more easily switch over
4) I wanted to work with big businesses that through mandate, demand or new leadership finally decide to make big bold change and need help communicating this new message
5) I wanted to provide education to consumers to help their consciousness grow (conscious consumers) and to point out all the options they have to purchase in a more sustainable and beneficial way for society.
While my non profit was great, my focus was kids and community outreach so that the new generation is wiser and cares more. However, there was an entire category of adults who were creating/running businesses and shopping that needed an entirely different type of education and assistance. I could provide that!
In less than 1.5 years, PlanIt Environmental Vision + Branding has clients in Hawaii, Colorado, and Taiwan. We have had brand new businesses and established businesses. We have done design, branding, websites, commercials, photoshoots, and social media.
It’s been a MAJOR challenge and I have so much more to learn as a leader and as the provider of these services. But- I’m constantly learning and adapting and my goal has always and will always be to make the world a better place through this environmental marketing agency.