Great news! The team from The Sustainability Project (TSP) responded to my request for an interview over email and gave me valuable inputs regarding their current operations and aspirations. 🙂 So for this week’s post, I’d like to share about building a sustainable business from a company’s perspective.
Before I dive into the details of the interview, I’d like to thank Andrea and Xinying, both interns from TSP, for responding to my questions thoughtfully and enthusiastically!
What does ‘sustainability’ mean to you and your team?
I thought this was a key question to ask as different businesses may have varying definitions of what it means to operate a business sustainably, depending on their beliefs. To TSP, “sustainability means in all of our daily operations, we think of the environment first”. Andrea and Xinying raised examples of how “all the furniture and display set ups are either second-hand or unwanted” in their brick-and-mortar and that the products’ price labels are made from “old cardboard boxes cut-outs”. As for online goods, TSP has a “plastic-free protocol” whereby craft paper substitutes the usual bubble wrap and is even “repurposed or reused” afterwards. All these and more contribute to TSP’s motive to “lengthen the lifespan of all the materials used in our daily operations and reduce as much unnecessary waste as we can”. I find these gestures meaningful and very helpful in making an immediate good impression on customers. Since these are probably what they would come in contact with first when buying TSP products. I believe this is a straightforward strategy that many brands would employ in advocating their sustainability vision to the public!
What inspired you and your team to advance from a blog to operating a shop?
TSP originally started out as a blog to “educate the readers about sustainable living”. What motivated them to transition to a shop? The desire to empower readers to “transform the knowledge they learn from [TSP’s] blog into action”.
What setbacks did/are you and your team encounter/encountering in operating a business focusing on eco-friendly products (as compared to conventional, less eco-friendly products?)
I wanted to find out how businesses approach problems that inevitably come with selling items that are still not quite the norm. Andrea and Xinying mentioned that “true mindset changes always start from the individual’s perception change” and I totally agree. A personal view as an intern from Andrea is that she is afraid of the “commercialization of eco-products”, as she’s worried about the “possibility of people buying [reusable products] frivolously and unable to commit to a low waste lifestyle in the long run”. What do you think of this?
These are but snippets of the interview. If you’re curious about what TSP has to say regarding the materials used in making their products, strategies that they employed to appeal to the masses, their thoughts on how they have inspired consumers to adopt a low-waste lifestyle, and their future plans, check out the complete interview transcript in the attached document! 🙂