Profiles

How one Byron Bay project is redefining sustainability for small businesses

- November 6, 2020 4 MIN READ

The Earth is warming, the seasons are getting more unpredictable and one thing is for certain – climate change is here and business needs to do something about it. Recognising this, the founders of Brookfarm, Cape Byron Distillery and Stone & Wood founded We, the many* to show how businesses can do good.

We, the many* is a passion project for the Brook family, Will, Eddie, Martin and Pam of Brookfarm and Cape Byron Distillery, and for Jamie Cook and Brad Rogers of Stone & Wood. The project’s products and business model set new precedents for what it truly means to be a climate positive business. 

What is We, the many*?

The brand’s first range of carbon neutral and nutritious breakfast cereals empowers people to take responsibility for their health and the climate, just by eating breakfast. The project arose from a recognition of the responsibility of businesses to tackle climate change. 

“I thought how do I take responsibility for climate change personally and as a business? And that’s how We, the many* came about. 50% of our profits are invested into climate action projects – so not only does our business depend on environmental success but we’re investing into other businesses where the climate and reducing carbon is everything that they do,” says co-founder Will Brook.

Byron Bay businesses Brookfarm, Cape Byron Distillery and Stone & Wood all have a strong history in sustainable business practices. Both Brookfarm and Stone & Wood won the Green Globe Award for environmental excellence in 2015 and 2017 respectively. We, the many* expands on these climate positive actions, as the founders “create a movement where climate change is a key business driver rather than an afterthought,” says Will. 

The most difficult part of starting the business was getting stakeholders to understand the importance and impact of We, the many*. “I’ve heard so many people place their responsibility for the climate or for the planet’s health onto another person. And for me, and for We, the Many* we’re all about taking that responsibility back,” says Will. The business places responsibility back into the hands of consumers so that they are making active purchases to protect the environment.

Three biggest learnings from creating a climate positive business

Whilst We, the many* is still in its crowdfunding phase before its official launch, the founders have learnt many takeaways from the project already. 

1. There’s a lack of good environmental investment in Australia

Will credits the like-minded community in Byron Bay as one of the key drivers for We, the many*. “We’re lucky out here in Byron Bay we have a lot of people who are really aligned climate-wise, business-wise and health-wise,” says Will. Comparatively, he is surprised by the lack of climate positive initiatives throughout Australia but is eager to create more opportunities for consumers to participate.

2. Research into real ingredients will have a positive effect on not only your health but also the environment

When creating the first range of breakfast cereals, the team put substantial effort into researching the most effective ingredients that would not only benefit their customers’ health but also the climate. Their range includes green banana resistant starch for gut health, beetroot for sports performance and turmeric for anti-inflammation. Hitting two birds with one stone was much easier than anticipated.

3. We, the many* is one of the first business models with 50% of profits reinvested into climate positive projects

We, the many*’s business model depends on sustainability. Whilst some businesses might invest 1% into the planet, the project is investing a whopping 50% of their profits into other climate positive initiatives. “ I was surprised and almost excited and disappointed all at the same time because this is what I would want for the future – that this is something that every business does, every person does so that our kids and grandkids have a planet to inhabit for years to come,” says Will.

Advice for small businesses that want to transition to a climate positive business model

Although it may sound too idealistic to start a climate friendly business from the ground up, it is definitely an essential concern for every business. Will’s advice for other small Aussie businesses looking to shift towards a sustainable business model is to be transparent in the products you are creating and the projects you are investing in. He also recommends reaching out to your networks who have experience in the climate positive business space. “Don’t be afraid to get out and have a coffee with someone and pique their brain for advice. It’s key to your business that you’re getting the right advice with the right network,” says Will.

How consumers and small businesses can participate

Whilst not all businesses have the means of creating an entirely new business focused on climate, they can still do their part by supporting businesses that do. Will wants to inspire consumers to make actively sustainable choices by giving them the choice to. The business is currently on Indiegogo and steadily raising funding for their first product launch. “If we could send a message to people all over the globe that just by eating breakfast you could have a benefit to the climate, then that’s what We, the Many* is about – everyone taking one little step to become responsible for the future that they’re leaving,” says Will.

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