5 Australians Making a Real Change with Clean Business
We speak to Jordy Kay from Great Wrap, Jeanine Hourani from Road to Refuge, and Nick Chiarelli and Tim Silverwood from the Ocean Impact Organisation to find out how they’r e creating waves when it comes to social justice and the planet
Have you ever thought about how much cling wrap the hospitality industry uses on any given day? How much wrap do you think wineries use to encase their pallets of wine? What about non-hospitality businesses, which ship billions of pallets around the world each year? The answer is a lot. A single winery, in fact, can use up to 3.5 million metres of plastic wrap in a single year. So while using reusable alternatives at home is great, industrial waste is still a huge problem and we need bigger and more scalable solutions if we’re really going to make an impact. Bank Australia customer Jordy Kay has one of those solutions. Jordy is the founder and CEO of Great Wrap, an Australian company that’s behind the world’s first compostable stretch wrap. Having started his career in the natural wine business, Jordy simply “couldn’t unsee” the staggering amount of plastic wrap the industry was churning through on a daily basis. “The most effective way that we can solve plastic waste and plastic pollution is through working with businesses, big or small, to begin changing their impact,” says Jordy. “A lot of businesses might claim to be ‘green’, but when you look behind the curtains, there are often huge problems. So I think going B2B, like we are, is a great starting point.”
Great Wrap’s product is 100 per cent compostable, leaves no trace of residue or microplastics and breaks down in 180 days once it’s put on the compost pile. The company’s goal is to remove one million tonnes of plastic from the environment within a year. Despite a long battle for tangible and lasting sustainability ahead, Jordy has faith in his fellow humans. “I genuinely believe people, by and large, are good, and I think that while companies are about maximising profit, they’re also increasingly about minimising their impact,” he shares. “Sure, some of that is coming from a political angle — Australia has 2025 packaging targets that say 100 per
cent of our packaging needs to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025 or earlier — but consumers are pushing for it, too. Even companies like Coca-Cola are genuinely trying to limit their waste.” A passionate environmentalist, Jordy selffunded the research and creation of the Great Wrap product, which has already been picked up by clients both large and small in Australia and beyond. “It wasn’t just small businesses getting on board,” reveals Jordy. “We’ve been contacted by some huge, huge companies — beauty companies, skincare, soft drink, wine, meat and dairy. There isn’t just one industry reaching out to us — it’s really widespread,
which is incredible.”
For each box of Great Wrap sold, Jordy estimates they prevent 1.2 kilometres of plastic wrap from entering landfill. This fact makes the decision to switch to Great Wrap an absolute “no-brainer” for him. If we all follow Jordy’s lead and make the switch to only using recyclable and sustainable products in our homes, we will contribute to Great Wrap’s mission to end plastic pollution.
Jordy, what makes you feel the most alive and wild?
Coming up with new ideas for some of the world’s biggest problems often comes after a swim in the ocean. Being close to the force of the ocean means for a moment you can forget boundaries that usually exist in your day-to-day life and look at them from a whole new angle. That’s when we feel most alive!
For more, visit greatwrap.co.
Road to Refuge
The refugee narrative in Australia is often dictated by the mainstream media. Not anymore. A new project aims to equip people from refugee backgrounds with the skills they need to tell their own stories and reclaim that narrative for themselves. Jeanine Hourani was born in Bahrain, but she was not born Bahraini. She’d inherited refugee status from her Palestinian father, who’d inherited it from his parents. Jeanine was third-generation stateless. And despite arriving in Australia in 1997, on her third birthday, to begin a new life, Jeanine had been ashamed of her refugee background for as long as she could remember. “Predominantly because of what was being said by the media and politicians,” she says. “And the Australian public just seemed to blindly follow and believe it.” That shame lasted until she was 20 years old, when she first told someone her story. This process completely changed not only how she felt about her past, but how she’d use her story to help define her future. “I realised the power that my story, and other refugee stories, had,” Jeanine remembers. “I think the more stories we get out there, the more likely we are to get rid of the negativity that permeates Australian society and move towards a more inclusive Australia.” True to her word, Jeanine is now working with Road to Refuge, an Australian nonprofit that has helped provide platforms for refugees since 2012. Jeanine is the director of the “In My Own Words” programme, an initiative funded in part by a Bank Australia customer grant. Billed as Road to Refuge’s “most concerted effort to date”, the programme aims to teach people from refugee backgrounds the essential skills they need to not just tell their stories, but potentially kick-start their own careers in the media, too. “The programme helps to catalyse this process by equipping participants with the skills and opportunities they need to tell their stories on their terms and in their own words,” adds Jeanine.
The programme will take participants through a series of workshops covering a range of essential topics centred around what it means to be a storyteller. As well as covering the written word, the programme — which is completely free — will take into account other mediums, such as filmmaking, photography and podcasts. It’ll include advice on how to navigate the media landscape, how to build a personal brand, how to pitch stories to magazines and even how to go about fundraising to help get a project off the ground. For Jeanine, now is the time to start changing the narrative for refugees in Australia. “Given everything that’s happening at a federal level, the upcoming election will be really, really hard for refugees and our communities,” she says. “We want to really broaden people’s perspectives of what a refugee story is instead of the single boatpeople narrative that currently exists.” In My Own Words will be facilitated by a range of experts — including journalists, film-makers, writers, artists, photographers and more — and offer participants the chance to develop their own project throughout its course. “We want to encourage diverse methods of storytelling such as photography, the written word, film and all other art forms and storytelling techniques,” says Jeanine. “From this aspect, this programme is the first of its kind.”
Jeanine, what makes you feel the most alive and wild?
When I feel connected. Whether that’s through a conversation with another like-minded person, marching at a protest, or learning and thinking about how my own struggle intersects with so many others. I get my energy from being and feeling connected to others; from feeling like I am not alone in this work. That’s also where I get my drive and ambition from — the knowledge and the understanding that all our struggles are linked. Audre Lorde famously said, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” The fact that all our struggles are linked means that solutions can only happen when
we stand together in strength and solidarity, and that makes me feel like I’m part of something bigger than just me and makes me feel optimistic about the future. That’s what drives me to keep up the good fight.
Tim, what makes you feel the most alive and wild?
Definitely the ocean. Surfing and just being in the ocean, especially when it’s in a wild (but not too wild) state is such an invigorating experience for me. It’s the delicate dance between the enormous vulnerability of being in an environment where, by all accounts, humans don’t belong, coupled with the exhilaration of riding lumps of water created by distant forces as they expire their abundant energy onto naturally shaped coastlines.
At the heart of Jeanine’s and Road to Refuge’s efforts is the hope of a ripple effect: the more people who are empowered to tell their stories, the more people will be reading (or hearing or watching) those stories. And the more people who are reading those stories, the more people are likely to be inspired to tell their own, and the bigger the ripple becomes. “I feel even more empowered seeing people’s perceptions about refugees change when I tell my story,” says Jeanine. “I only wish I could’ve started telling it earlier, but In My Own Words aims to remedy that.”
For more, visit roadtorefuge.com.
Ocean Impact Organisation
More than 70 per cent of the planet is made up of water. And as a global society, we have — objectively speaking — wreaked havoc on it. Among other issues, sea levels are rising; pesticides, sewage, run-off and oil spills are all flowing into the oceans; around 31 per cent of global fish stocks are overfished; and World Animal Protection reports that some 640,000 tonnes of fishing equipment is abandoned in the ocean each year. As Sea Shepherd Conservation Society founder, Paul Watson, once put it: “If the oceans die, we die.” Thankfully, there are a few entrepreneurial souls out there who are hell-bent on finding ways to combine business with activism to save the ocean. Nick Chiarelli and Tim Silverwood are two such souls. They’re the co-founders of Ocean Impact Organisation (OIO), Australia’s first ocean impact ecosystem and start-up accelerator for businesses and entrepreneurs making a positive impact on the ocean. Tim, a long-time environmentalist (and
previous CEO of Take 3 for the Sea), and Nick, a chartered accountant by trade, struggled to understand why more businesses weren’t focused on doing good things with capital, so decided to take matters into their own hands. Both have a love of the ocean, growing up surfing on New South Wales’ Central Coast
and Northern Beaches. “Whenever I’m close to the ocean, I’m happy,” Tim says. “The ocean just has this incredible draw.”
When Nick began looking into the start-up space, he quickly saw a gap in the market. There were software start-ups, real estate accelerators, start-ups for agribusiness and renewable energy. “I thought, ‘Why not for the ocean?’” he says. OIO has teamed up with a variety of experts in the field, as well as business mentors,
industry partners, research institutions and investors to inspire and educate others on just how essential healthy oceans are for our existence, all through innovation, positive leadership and good business. “We’re incredibly passionate about helping people increase their ocean literacy and understanding of the importance of
the ocean,” Tim explains. “And, of course, preventing the abysmal destruction of ocean ecosystems and wildlife.” Last year, OIO launched Pitchfest 2020, a virtual competition and event aiming to showcase and celebrate new ideas that will have a positive impact on our oceans. The 2020 winner was Planet Protector Packaging,
a company that uses waste from the wool industry to create insulated packaging to replace problematic expanded polystyrene. In support, Bank Australia funded a cash prize to help Planet Protector Packaging accelerate their idea. “We saw a broad range of applications including agricultural run-off, coral reef restoration, ocean energy, fisheries by-catch and plastic alternatives, just to name a few,” says Nick. Both Tim and Nick posit that it’s time to change our relationship with the ocean and start doing things differently. “Business as usual has failed us,” Tim says. “We need business as unusual to show us another way.” You can do many things to contribute to the work Tim and Nick are doing, such as picking up rubbish whenever you see it in nature, choosing sustainable products, consuming less meat and growing your own food.
For more, visit ocean-impact.org.
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