On this episode of the podcast, we had a chance to chat with the founder of Send and Shred, Jo Clay. For those who don’t know, Send and Shred is an E-commerce business that allows companies to dispose of their sensitive documents in an environmentally friendly manner and ensure this waste does not end up in landfill. Naturally, this business idea was spurred on by Jo’s passion for sustainability, which she discusses throughout the episode alongside the trials and tribulations of starting a niche online business. More specifically, Jo discusses why she chose a lean business model for her company as well as the financial viability of the recycling industry.
In the time between recording and publishing this interview, Jo was elected as a member of parliament in the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly representing the Greens. In the later parts of the episode, she details the process behind running a political campaign and what she hopes to achieve during her tenure in parliament. Additionally, Jo provides her stance on the role government agencies have in supporting sustainable businesses.
- The recent ACT election
- Environmentally sustainable businesses
- The financial advantages of starting an online company
Disclaimer: This transcript was generated automatically and as such, may contain various spelling and syntax errors
Germaine: [00:00:00] Hello, Future tribe. Welcome to another episode of the podcast on this week’s episode, we’ve got Joe Clay, Joe, tell me a bit about yourself and what you do.
[00:00:59] Jo: [00:00:59] Me. I am, um, many, many things. I run a company called Send and Shred, which is a recycling company. And I write books and I run a climate change project called the carbon diet.
[00:01:13] And at the moment I’m running a campaign for the act greens in the act election.
[00:01:18] Germaine: [00:01:18] Wow. I, um, I did Google your name and I just, I kept seeing everywhere. I think you’ve written for her Canberra or you have a profile there. Um, you were on the Canberra innovation network’s website. Um, you’re just everywhere, which is.
[00:01:32] Which is awesome. Give us, give us an idea of, if you don’t mind me asking how old you are and when you sort of got into all this, was it sort of recently, or have you always been one of those people who had your finger in all sorts of different things?
[00:01:45] Jo: [00:01:45] You know what, at module I’m 43 years old? Um, look, I, I grew up in Canberra.
[00:01:50] I started out, uh, very conventionally, I guess I did. I finished a law degree and a creative arts degree, slightly unconventionally. Um, and I started out my life in the public services. Many of us. Doing Canberra. And I worked in a few places, had some good jobs and some jobs that I didn’t like so well. And I think as I went gradually through, I realized that I wanted to do something that would be really helpful for the environment, which is where I’ve moved further and further and further into sustainability has the climate change and the recycling.
[00:02:23] Sort of venture. Um, and I also realized you learn a bit more about yourself. I think as you get older and as you try more things, I realized that I actually really enjoy doing odd things out on my own, um, and taking little risks and I actually get a bit stifled in structures. So I think that’s probably why I’m quite a good fit for.
[00:02:43] Entrepreneurship, um, and art and we’ll see about politics. I don’t know, but it’s slightly unusual, slightly less structured.
[00:02:51] Germaine: [00:02:51] Yeah. So is this your first sort of go at politics?
[00:02:55] Jo: [00:02:55] Yes, it is. Yeah, I I’m, I’m an environmentalist. Um, and I’m, I’m not a politician at all, but I’ve been in the climate change activist.
[00:03:04] Area. I go to the school, strike for climate and I’ve helped out with stop Adani and a lot of those things. And I I’ve run a climate change project and I’m really, really worried about climate change. I think like every rational human being on the planet right now. And I, I think the more you see other people doing these amazing things and I’ve seen people, you know, Get themselves arrested and, and make these amazing sacrifices for the sake of the planet and all this, all of these things.
[00:03:31] You’re like, well, what can I do? And what I could do was I could. Start a recycling company. And then when the opportunity came up with the green, so I thought, yep. I could do that. That’s something I can, I don’t know if I’ll win, but I can,
[00:03:43] Germaine: [00:03:43] I can give that a go. Yeah. So, I mean, there’s, I think two big things that we’ll tackle during our conversation.
[00:03:50] One is definitely the politics side of things. And we’ll get into that. Um, and the other side is a bit more of what our listeners and what we’re used to talking about, which is. Business and entrepreneurship and innovation and just doing sort of, you know, new things and doing, taking risks and experimenting.
[00:04:08] And yeah, but before we roll into the, to give them, give me an idea of sort of what responsibilities you have, sort of what things you have to balance out because you’re doing all these things. But then, you know, as I like to say, always on the podcast, there’s the realities of life realities of having to earn an income realities of having a family or responsibilities.
[00:04:28] How how’s that like, give us an idea of where that’s set before we roll into the two things so that we understand how many things do you have to juggle?
[00:04:36] Jo: [00:04:36] I think that’s, I think that’s real. I actually, I, I do quite a lot of different things. I pick things up quite quickly, but I actually don’t, I’m not a work a hundred hours a week kind of person I burn out.
[00:04:49] And there’s some entrepreneurs who are off. There’s a bit of a myth in the entrepreneurs, sort of circle of, you know, the. Success means, you know, you, you give yourself three heart attacks and your mortgage, their house, and you go bankrupt. And then that’s, that’s great for the people who are that committed.
[00:05:03] I actually don’t feel like that’s me at all. So I think coming into it at the age of 43, I’ve had some time to earn a salary. I have a partner who owns a salary, which means that reliefs and pressure. And I always recommend, that’s a great idea for anyone running niches. I know a lot of politicians and artists who do it that way.
[00:05:22] One person has a very unreliable source of income and the other one has a fixed one. It’s actually. If,
[00:05:30] Germaine: [00:05:30] if you can swing it, that’s, that’s definitely a good thing to have. Isn’t it it’s just to have some level of stability. So that at least, you know, 50% of the partnership is, is stable. And you, you then I think that unlocks a certain level of, especially you mentioned sort of, you’ve had time to earn a salary and, you know, Build up some sort of savings, maybe, um, it gives you a confidence based operate out of the nurses either.
[00:05:57] Like you mentioned, working yourself to the bone that you’re giving yourself heart attacks of mortgaging, everything and trying to try and sort of just. Survive on nothing to make your dreams work or doing the other route, which is just trying to find an external investment to just, you know, but then yeah, then that’s a whole different world where, to me, yeah.
[00:06:14] Come across as someone who’s doing things out of passion, um, as much as out of sort of trying to make a change in the world and all those things. So for you, I I’m, I’m sure it’s just much better to be able to make the decisions yourself rather than say, have investors sort of bring the down your neck, asking for a return on their investment.
[00:06:33] Jo: [00:06:33] And look on it. It is, we did for the recycling company, we did get investors, but we sort of went with a small pool and we. Have people who are very clear about what the outcomes are going to be. And I had, I’ve spoken to a lot of CEOs and entrepreneurs where you get the monies in and the money’s is always great.
[00:06:53] There are a lot of expectations that go with that capital funding. So you do have to be a little bit careful. I think, I think too, I have a, I have a daughter, I have a six year old, um, and I would not dream of taking on a political campaign any earlier than when she was at school. And I. Love and admire the women who have babies and who manage that.
[00:07:11] But I would not have been able to. So I think it’s, yeah, it was yeah, a baby and a business and a stint of politics would have been one thing too many for me
[00:07:21] Germaine: [00:07:21] too crazy. Yeah. So when did you, when did you. Stop the business. Is it called shred and save. Is that right? Oh yeah. Send insurance. Sorry.
[00:07:33] Jo: [00:07:33] It’s a recycling company.
[00:07:34] We, um, Graham my business partner, Graham, who I used to work with, uh, in waste and recycling in government. And he actually came up with the idea. And look, he came up with the idea about five years ago. It’s a really good idea. It’s with founder, there are a lot of these, uh, problem waste streams, and a lot of companies are popping up to, to, to deal with that problem waste stream.
[00:07:54] So there’s man rags that does close his mobile muster that does fund. We do documents for the home office. So there’s a lot of individuals that have problems. Um, he came up with this business model and look, we kicked it around for a couple of years. We then. Took it to the green shed. And then we formed a company.
[00:08:13] In 2018 and we launched in, uh, we formed the company in 2017. We launched the product in 2018. So we’re in our, we’ve just had our second year of operating that company. I think we are past the startup phase. Um, and we’re up to that next little difficult. Pre pubescent.
[00:08:32] Germaine: [00:08:32] Yeah. Sort of the troubled teenage stages of sort of, yeah.
[00:08:37] Jo: [00:08:37] We’re wearing that scaling up. So we’re fairly well established in Canberra and our business model is a national business model. So we are scaling up and starting to find out. E-commerce national marketing presence and scaling up our customer base. Um, but we’re not sort of quite there yet. I, I, realistically I remember tiny at the green shed.
[00:08:56] He’s run a lot of businesses. He’s very good, very entrepreneurial in check. It’s a good entrepreneur for you to speak to. But he said to me early in the piece that, you know, three to five years, and I think that’s. Probably realistic and it’s, I think it’s actually good for pacing to have an idea of where the finish line is.
[00:09:12] Germaine: [00:09:12] Yes. Yes. So tell us a little bit about what you guys do through Sandra and shred.
[00:09:18] Jo: [00:09:18] I would love to, what we noticed is when people print paper in the office, in the workplace, they usually put it in a secure, locked blue bin. And then a company comes and takes that locked in a way and shreds the paper and it gets recycled.
[00:09:34] So that works brilliantly at work. People don’t have that at home. So people were using home shredders to protect their, their sensitive information and, and guard against identity theft. Um, and that’s fine so far as it goes, but they’re a bit fiddly to use and the shredded paper doesn’t get recycled. So if you put that, if you put a whole piece of paper in your yellow top to bin, it gets recycled.
[00:09:56] If you shred it first. The council recycling facilities can’t actually process it. It gets tangled up and
[00:10:03] Germaine: [00:10:03] it blows. Right. Right. Okay. So if it’s straight to paper, even at work, we will actually, we have an empty the shredder for a little while, but when we do, we would normally empty it into the recycle bin.
[00:10:13] But we’re not actually doing necessarily the right thing.
[00:10:17] Jo: [00:10:17] It might be. So in the workplace, you’d need to check because you have a different, it depends on who your commercial recycler is at home. And this is the same problem all around Australia and all different council facilities, but they all have the same problem there.
[00:10:29] They’re all built to deal with big piece of paper. And that’s what they were designed for envelopes and pages and, you know,
[00:10:36] Germaine: [00:10:36] Hey, four sheets of paper. Yeah. Like, like the kind of thing that you hold up to someone, and they say, that’s the sheet of paper, not the kind of thing that you brought up to someone and they say that’s a shredded sheet of paper.
[00:10:47] Jo: [00:10:47] Absolutely. Yeah. So we, we that’s that’s and we knew that when we were going and I will work in government and it’s a con it was a perennial problem of, you know, what about the shredded paper? It actually causes a lot of trouble at an ends up in landfill. So he came up with this business model and we worked it up together.
[00:11:01] We’ve patented it actually it’s um, we’ve, we’ve put a bit of our pain into it. It’s we send out post out through Australia, post up a plastic bag. You fill it up with whole pages. You lodge it in the post office, you track it back and we’ve got little ping on our website that helps you track it back. It goes to a secure recycling factory.
[00:11:20] We shred and recycle it there. And then we give you a certificate of destruction. So we’ve basically taken that commercial service that was working quite well in the workplace. And we’ve come up with a home office version of,
[00:11:30] Germaine: [00:11:30] okay. And now I have two questions that come to mind. The first one is. How do you monetize this?
[00:11:37] What’s the commercial viability around this. And as a second part, how do you ensure that this doesn’t get intercepted in between, you know, your harm and the recycling facility?
[00:11:49] Jo: [00:11:49] Well, I’ll, I’ll take the first, I’ll take the second question first. It’s a bit easier. It’s it’s a pretty secure Chang. So I suppose it’s fairly secure.
[00:11:57] So the same chain that sent you that secure document in the first place, you know, that letter or that bank statement or that passport is and processing it on that secure chain it’s tracked. So you can actually see where it is and we give you a destruction certificate. And then at the end of the post delivery, it gets collected by a uniformed security vetted Tritech’s staff member, um, and taken to a secure facility that is locked, CCTV monitored.
[00:12:27] Police Kilian staff. And it’s actually, it makes the same requirements that government agencies and HBO.
[00:12:33] Germaine: [00:12:33] Uh,
[00:12:34] Jo: [00:12:34] I didn’t see you. So it’s actually quite secure.
[00:12:40] Germaine: [00:12:40] Well, I mean, you make a good point of well Germaine, um, the, the same way you received that thing, you just reverse it, which is such a, such a good, you know, good point.
[00:12:50] Um, because, uh, I didn’t think about it that way, but yeah, if, if it’s safe enough for, you know, your bank to send you your. Credit card and personal details, um, in the mail then why isn’t it safe for the, um, same thing to happen yet?
[00:13:05] Jo: [00:13:05] Reverse it. We actually, it’s interesting though, that it actually was before we had launched the business, that was one of the biggest risks we had.
[00:13:12] Um, my insurance premium dropped 75% after the first year, because the first time anybody hears about this, they’re like, Oh my God, this is very risky. And then once you run for a year or two, now we’re up to it. Actually. It’s fine. It’s really fine. Look in a lot of ways. It’s actually even psycho. Mostly if something does go missing in the mail, it’s almost always because there’s been this addressed and is all pre printed addressing.
[00:13:34] So it’s, it’s, it’s a really valid question, but it hasn’t actually going to have to be a problem. The first question. Is the more interesting one. So recycling is tricky way, way running this. We’re coming into it as recyclers and environmentalist’s. And I think that’s where most of the people running these recycling ventures come from, it does work commercially, but the margins are very tight because Australians don’t really want to pay for their recycling.
[00:14:04] So we charge 24 95 per bag, and our customers will pay that. But I think if, if, if you’re a rootless sort of business entrepreneur, you would want to be making much bigger profit margins. I think it probably just wouldn’t be that appealing. And most of the people running these games like mobile muster or men they’re either.
[00:14:24] Con hotted recyclers or there’s a whole lot of industry backing behind them. They caught it’s quite much, it does work, but they’re quite
[00:14:31] Germaine: [00:14:31] much. Yeah. But, but you’re sort of always, um, sort of teetering on, you know, sort of small thing goes wrong, your, your sort of personal loss, if everything goes right. You know, posting a profit, but you know, you’re not talking sort of multimillion dollar profits or losses either way.
[00:14:47] It’s just a very neutral sort of business to run because, you know, you make a good point of view. You have to balance it out because. You might be environmentally thoughtful or conscious, but you also don’t want to pay too much of a premium for it that, um, so you can’t as a business charge too much because you’re then not achieving, what’s almost a social enterprise, um, or an environmental enterprise.
[00:15:10] Um, so you’ve got to balance it out because you want enough adoption because then your overall business is more sound and more commercially viable, but. Yeah, it’s a, it’s a fine balance.
[00:15:22] Jo: [00:15:22] Yeah, absolutely. Spot on. So it, it does work, but it’s, um, I suspect anybody who’s gonna start a recycling venture probably won’t have money as their primary motivation.
[00:15:33] Um, and I’ve, I would love to be proven wrong. I really hope so. I shouldn’t say that actually, some of the recycling benches to the green shades are really good businesses that hire 75 staff. And, you know, makes money. So some of them do quite well, but generally speaking, recycling is quite expensive industry to work in.
[00:15:52] Germaine: [00:15:52] Yeah. Yeah, no doubt. Now, especially, I guess when you’re trying to recycle something like paper that has inherently not a lot of value, um, then, then say, you know, we have clients who work in, um, the technology recycling space, and I know there’s a lot more. Money there, um, because there’s inherently more, more gold, more valuable minerals and materials within those things where papers are sheet it’s a sheet of paper, no matter how much you, you know, break it down.
[00:16:20] It’s it’s. Sort of at it’s very simple form. It’s not, it’s more a commodity than a, than a valuable sort of, um, thing that you, you know, um, gold, for example, like people trade with gold, you wouldn’t necessarily trade with paper. Yeah,
[00:16:36] Jo: [00:16:36] no, that’s absolutely right. It’s interesting too, in Australia, we, since the China waste ban, a lot of these markets have been disrupted and I actually, I’m always in two minds about how much governments you have to.
[00:16:47] Pay for and do all of our recycling and where the role is for the private businesses. And it’s obviously there’s a balance, there’s obviously a balance there, but it’s, I think it’s a constantly shifting balance. I think you’ve got to keep re looking at it and saying, what are, what are our goals as a society? If we want our circular economy, which bits do we support?
[00:17:04] Which bits do we pay for? How to, how is it going to work?
[00:17:07] Germaine: [00:17:07] Yeah. Yeah, certainly. And it takes some, you know, possibly some generational sort of, uh, new generations coming through with different core beliefs perhaps, um, and different focuses there as well. Yeah. Tell me a little bit about when you guys started, how you, how you got the message out there.
[00:17:24] Did you. What, what did it look like? What did you do? What was the, you know, was there a lot of branding logo, design, web design involved, or was it more of a simplistic beginning? How’d you get the word out? Tell me a little bit,
[00:17:36] Jo: [00:17:36] Oh, I’d love to, we did it all wrong. Probably everybody tells you that we did everything wrong with the, um, we originally started, we wanted to be a bricks and mortar business.
[00:17:47] Germaine: [00:17:47] so,
[00:17:51] Jo: [00:17:51] so we originally thought that we would be selling in shops. Um, and we put a lot of effort into getting out product placed in shops. Now I cannot tell you in 2020, how delighted I am that that failed. And we are an e-commerce business only. That is just marvelous, marvelous. Um, so we started out with a very basic, not particularly well-built website, not particularly well-designed that cost a lot, because it was custom built, which is not.
[00:18:20] Boy, I would recommend anybody do it. We put a lot of effort into our product design. We got that done. We did that well. Um, it turned out three, weirdly difficult to design a plastic bag, but we’ve managed. Um, we had a couple of guys, the first batch we got back from the factory broke, and then we had to go back to the, go back to those principles.
[00:18:40] Start all over again, push out, launch back, find a new secretary. We actually found a actually physically toured factories in Shenzhen and sound. A factory that, uh, actually designs police, evidence bags and bank queen bags and those high security bags. Cause we’d just accidentally picked somebody who said they could do the job, but they were basically giving us weak flimsy courier bags.
[00:19:03] It wasn’t, it wasn’t good enough. Because you’ve
[00:19:05] Germaine: [00:19:05] got to sort of hit a fine balance there again, don’t you where you don’t want the bags to be too, too good for what you’re trying to achieve, because that introduces weight. And then, you know, on a on the large scale, that’s a lot of, lot minimization of material that you can transport, but then you can’t have it to be too flimsy because you have this responsibility to make sure it’s a robust sort of bag that, that can make it through the trip there and back.
[00:19:32] Jo: [00:19:32] Yeah, absolutely. It was good. We are, we ended up, uh, talking to the product designers and allspice who we probably hadn’t gotten the right information this time around. And then I spoke to this lovely bloke, Tony. He told me about the kitchen table test. I’m not sure if he wants me to reveal the kitchen table test, but it’s a, it’s an Australia post, very scientifically designed test in which you got your product and bring it down on the ground 10 times over the kitchen table.
[00:20:00] And if it doesn’t break. That’s a good point.
[00:20:02] Germaine: [00:20:02] You’re good to go. Well, sometimes it’s those, it’s those simple tests, right? That, that you, I think, cause there’s very much the other side of things where people, um, overthinking and then you miss the whole point. Um, so this is just a classic let’s let’s just do what, what we want this bag to withstand.
[00:20:23] So I love it.
[00:20:25] Jo: [00:20:25] Yeah, it was good. So we, so we put a lot of effort into trying to get into bricks and mortar. Shots and didn’t succeed for various
[00:20:33] Germaine: [00:20:33] news agents and supermarkets, or,
[00:20:36] Jo: [00:20:36] um, we did, uh, we did a tiny little effort in use agents in supermarkets. Um, we thought we’d be a really good fit for Australia post shops because when you launch, you would pick up another one.
[00:20:48] Um, and look, that may be something that happens still one day. It’s something that we’re still working on. Um, and we tried some of the big stationers and flatteringly rather, flatteringly one of them. I won’t name it. Uh, say that we were too much of a competitor, so they fill out his traders.
[00:21:05] Germaine: [00:21:05] Yeah. Well, I think we’re threatened.
[00:21:08] Jo: [00:21:08] So we didn’t, and by this stage, of course we’d launched and we were selling online and I’m like, well, you know, the overheads are quite good. The fixed costs are quite low. Maybe we should just do this. And at that point I had a really good look at what we had in new us that we were not really doing.
[00:21:23] E-commerce because we. Found ourselves accidentally in e-commerce. So we went back and did proper e-commerce fixed it up a bit.
[00:21:31] Germaine: [00:21:31] It’s it’s that some, you know, knowing when to pivot, knowing when to change, knowing when to, um, not necessarily call it quits, but just change the direction that you were running in.
[00:21:42] Um, sometimes that, that makes all the difference, I would say. Um, so no, that, that, that makes total sense. So, um, Why was, why was I going to go, where was I going to go? Um, so you’re, you’ve got, so you, you guys sort of started that, but then when you relaunched, what did you, what did you do different the second time around, apart from going a comment,
[00:22:08] Jo: [00:22:08] we got a grant.
[00:22:09] We did get the first batch on private funding. Um, we were, we were really, we didn’t get a very pink grant. You don’t need much for e-commerce. E-commerce actually really appeals to me. If I do another venture, I would just do e-commerce because I’m a, I’m sort of a high-risk person. I quite like to give things a go, but I’m also a low risk person.
[00:22:28] I don’t want to have heart attacks and mortgage. My house e-commerce is sort of this nice little thing in between where you don’t need to, you know, certainly firstborn. You can actually set things up and see what happens. We managed to get, um, um, innovation grant, which is marvelous. And we, we, for the specific purpose of up updating our e-commerce.
[00:22:53] So I then went back and redid our website and I did it myself, which is, Oh my goodness. So much easier than instructing someone else to do it. Um, and we have a marvelous e-commerce website that has all the actual genuine e-commerce features that you need it, you know, voucher, sales, and automated email marketing and abandoned cart alerts and all of that very, very standard streamlined tools that the second you get them optimized, you suddenly realize, Oh goodness, this is why people like e-commerce.
[00:23:23] Germaine: [00:23:23] Yeah. Yeah, because I mean, you made a good point there once you, once you get it optimized, once you understand that there’s sort of these leavers that you just increase and decrease as a need until you get this perfectly balanced sort of system, you then can hit like. You can decide, you know, when you need to turn, turn things up when you need to decrease things.
[00:23:44] Um, I, I know some of the clients that we work with, they, they know it’s very predictable that they know, you know, this date, this time they’ve got to send, um, this email with this offer to increase sales or when sales are too much, this is how they can decrease them, but sort of control how much it’s coming.
[00:24:03] Very well. That’s the beauty with, with e-commerce that. You could possibly do it with brick and mortar, but you can’t control that inflow of traffic in the same way that you can with e-commerce.
[00:24:13] Jo: [00:24:13] Yes. Oh, look, I don’t bricks and mortar and I haven’t cracked that. I obviously, you know, other people have, it’s very expensive to advertise a bricks and mortar product and a new bricks and mortar venture.
[00:24:26] And I actually, we were doomed. From the start on that to be perfectly Frank, the only entrepreneurs I have met who have really succeeded using traditional advertising methods are not selling $25 widgets. They are selling, you know, great big software packages or something a bit bigger. So we experimented with a lot of traditional advertising and it’s just so expensive.
[00:24:51] It’s it would be impossible to convert enough to make up the costs.
[00:24:55] Germaine: [00:24:55] Yeah. Yeah. That’s so true. It’s you would, again, you would hit that, uh, I guess point of needing so much like mass market appeal, um, that, that in the first few years it was just be silly too. Um, Think that you’re going to hit that unless you’re willing to invest so much, so much money.
[00:25:15] And then by that point, all you’re doing is speeding up a process that would have eventually happened to anyway, um, is, is the way I see it. You know, it’s sort of the, you know, do you want to be the McDonald’s or the Hilton, um, where, where it’s it’s. Either shape, but mass market and so many stores in every corner or the Hilton where, you know, very few of us would be eating there, but we’d pay a pretty penny to do so and bird result in be, you know, good margins, but for very different reasons.
[00:25:43] So, um, yeah, I love that. It’s a, it’s a really interesting concept. How do you. Sort of managed the eco-friendly side of things. I assume that plastic bags themselves are recyclable.
[00:25:55] Jo: [00:25:55] Yes they are. Yeah. So w we actually, because, because we’re recyclers, um, we sort of sorted out our chain instead of have service arrangements, probably first people we’d known anything else.
[00:26:06] So the paper gets shredded and sent to an Australian pulp mill, and it gets turned back into paper and our paper, we it’s, we call it high quality office wise. It’s mostly very high quality office paper that is going into those bags and it stays quite high up the chain. And most of that then gets turned back into reflex office paper.
[00:26:23] So that’s easy, but plastic bags is all I’ve taught in recycling and you’ll have to, you’ll have to help me down. So there’s a, there’s a newish given this model, um, plastic forests in ovary, there are soft plastic recycling company. So they actually take the red cycle. Uh, soft plastics from Coles. Uh, so you know how you can drop off your soft plastics and you’ve barely in Vivian’s factory that processes those, and they turn it back into pelletize plastic and these little garden edging plastic products that they sell in Bunnings.
[00:26:59] So it’s a circular plastic. And it actually, interestingly, because we were in a plastic bag, that itself has been a bit of a marketing problem. So our first few practice lines, we were absolutely dead set. We wanted to. Have these been in a box or in a tough bag? Piper satchel, because we liked it better and we thought it would appeal to our customers more.
[00:27:20] And we still have customers that say, I’m not touching plastic, but it gets recycled.
[00:27:25] Germaine: [00:27:25] Plastic can be recycled. Yeah.
[00:27:27] Jo: [00:27:27] Well, we. Your office bottle plastic is recycled as he is because we send it to the, it comes to our factories and we send it to Aubrey. So I,
[00:27:37] Germaine: [00:27:37] I just wanted to clarify that just because yeah.
[00:27:39] You know, um, it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s the same question that I had was, you know? Okay. And you hear all this, I, to be honest, I’ve never done the research around it, but you know, things like, okay, biodegradable plastics are good, but you know, they take a hundred years to break down and they’re still, you know, ended up in landfill and, or like, there’s, there’s all this.
[00:27:57] I think almost mistake around it because I think there’s certain commercial interests, um, um, companies that have commercial interests too. Educate us, not, not miseducated us, but not quite educators as much as they need to. Um, and then there’s labels like bio-degradable with it. Um, I think the common or the general person thinks is one thing, but in reality it isn’t quite that same thing.
[00:28:22] So, um, it’s, it’s I think important to clarify, um, just that when someone hears this interview, they can understand that yes, you know, this product is set up in such a way and it’s all it sounds to me. Like it’s more. The right decision of materials, but also the supply chain and how, how things end up, where they need to end up then necessarily, you know, it’s not like a proprietary, you know, material that you guys invented that that is some special plastic.
[00:28:48] It’s just that it ends up in the right place so that people know what to do with it.
[00:28:53] Jo: [00:28:53] Yeah. And look at it. It’s, it’s, it’s a really good point. To clarify, there is a lot of confusion around plastics. There’s been a lot of, I don’t want to say intentional mislabeling, but I agree with you. The HLC has looked at the manufacturers of bio-plastics and compostable degradable.
[00:29:11] It’s. This is very difficult to know, um, for communications where you realize the best thing to do was to tell people specifically what we’re doing and where it goes. And once they know that they relax a little, because. We can say he’s, he’s where it goes. He that shine. And he is a picture of what it turns into at the end.
[00:29:30] And here’s the guy that you could verify with the third party, if you’re really that interested in every now and then somebody will, um, it’s I think this is, and this is where I guess I put on my greens hat and my climate change hat. We really need to start thinking about this when we do design product.
[00:29:45] And this is the challenge. So governments, I think in politicians and society as a whole, we can’t just design something, anything. And not think about where it’s come from and where it goes. That’s what it’s doing for our economies. You have to, when you like, we, we, we did it accidentally, I guess, because we are recyclers and we set up a recycling service.
[00:30:05] So we did set up the full chain, but we actually needed to do that with everything we need to think about. You know, when, when, when, when I, when I sell this to somebody, if they use it for a day or a decade, what happens to it at the end of that life? And has anyone set up a chain
[00:30:19] Germaine: [00:30:19] for that?
[00:31:04] Yeah, exactly. And, and I think, you know, this is a nice segue into, into what you do sort of on the, on the more political side, but, um, quickly touching the climate change and the, the green sort of side of things. I wouldn’t call myself sort of a, you know, uh, crazy climate change. Guy, like, you know, sort of preaching to everyone about all these things and, you know, cycling around and, um, so on and so forth.
[00:31:30] But at the very least I try and do personally. And I think this is something that is very easy to do for the average person is just think about, you know, when you purchase something for, and this happens a lot in products and it’s commercially driven because. People are price sensitive. So they might buy a really cheap thing and being able to use it for three months because it’ll deteriorate everywhere where I can, I would make the decision to buy something, you know, made of a better material or stronger material, because it will last for two years, even if it costs more money.
[00:32:00] Um, because that, that in my head at least is better than buying four new things every year or eight things. For the equivalent life, life cycle of, of one other thing. Um, and then thinking about, like you said, where things come from, what’s who who’s who’s, you know, making these things that they can be sold for.
[00:32:19] So cheap, like, you know, some, some products, I just look at them and I, I just think to myself, like the, has to be what is more or less slavery involved, um, to create these things. That, that we then use at Maya pay companies, massive amounts of money for, for them to make huge, huge margins on. And it’s just about sort of being a bit more thoughtful.
[00:32:40] And I think in this day and age, like we have so much information out there. Yes, there’s also misinformation, but what’s stopping you from Googling, you know, almost anything and looking into it.
[00:32:51] Jo: [00:32:51] Yeah, it’s absolutely right. I think the problem is now too much information, which is exactly why I started my cabin diet project.
[00:32:59] Germaine: [00:32:59] I saw that come up as well. Yeah.
[00:33:03] Jo: [00:33:03] The general guns of get something that lasts for a long time is really good. I’ve been looking at common accounting and different aspects of the carbon footprint for a long time and recycling. And as I’ve, I’ve got hundreds of thousands of words on the topic. But it all boils down.
[00:33:19] There are two principles and they work in every situation that I’ve found so far. Useless tooth greener in that order. So first of all, if you can use less of it, you do. And then second of all, you pick whatever is the grain of source and make the recycling. That means, you know, it’s made from recycled, then it can’t be recycled for, you know, different fields as lower energy, lower emissions, whatever, but you can always, always do that with your purchasing.
[00:33:42] Germaine: [00:33:42] Yeah. That’s such a good thought process for, and like you say, I can’t think of an instance where it wouldn’t apply of. Just ask yourself, do I even need this thing first? And then if you do, what’s the best decision that I can make based on the information that I have and what’s what’s available to me.
[00:33:59] So that’s that’s yeah, that’s, that’s a nice sort of little to two item, two prong test for everyone to do. If you’re, if you’re listening and want to be a little bit more conscious without necessarily going to an extreme about it all. Um, let’s talk about the political side of things now. How does someone.
[00:34:16] Find themselves and, and, you know, to be honest, I’m not completely across politics. Um, I it’s, I think it’s sort of an intentional thing that I just sort of go information overload. There’s a lot more stuff in business that I’m interested in, but, um, first give me an idea of what you’re running for and what that means in, in sort of the political system.
[00:34:40] Jo: [00:34:40] Sure thing. So I am running for the seat of Ginninderra, which is the bill Coleman. Districts in Canberra and I’m running for a seat in the act legislative assembly. Um, and in the ICT we have, it’s a combined state and local council system. So we don’t have a state. And the council, we perform both roles.
[00:35:00] There are 25 seats in the legislative assembly, the greens, uh, who I’m running for currently hold two of those 25 seats and they hold the balance of power. So they are quite influential. And despite the fact that they only have two seats, they’ve got a hundred percent renewable electricity into the Canberra grid.
[00:35:19] Um, and we’ve declared a state of climate change, emergency, and done a few quite interesting things like that. So that’s, that’s the stakes, I suppose.
[00:35:29] Germaine: [00:35:29] So, um, how did you find yourself in this position to sort of, yeah, like run running for some sort of position in government?
[00:35:38] Jo: [00:35:38] It’s a weird thing. I don’t know if you’ve ever read Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy.
[00:35:43] Germaine: [00:35:43] Oh, my, um, English changes are gonna wince a little bit. I think. Suppose to like study it, read it, watch it, but no
[00:35:53] Jo: [00:35:53] in Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy, there is decide just in planet where the people are ruled by losers and elicits room of people. And the people hate the lizards and the elicits hate the people and every election, the people show up and visit.
[00:36:07] And people say, well, why did you vote for Elizabeth? Because otherwise the wrong lizard would get in, which I think is probably where, what I think your politics do, frankly. I think this is probably what the average person thinks in politics. Um, look, I’m not sort of a, a politician by nature. I’ve actually only been a member of the greens party itself for a year and a half.
[00:36:28] I’m quite new to that party process. I never really had a view that I would run. I’m not somebody who’s. Just audit. They would have a career in politics. The reason I am doing it is because we needed some candidates in Ginninderra. There was a, you know, there was somebody who had a few words to me and there was, there was an opportunity there.
[00:36:48] Um, and I sort of looked around, but I thought, get this, all this stuff going on with climate change. And I can say that I’m a member of the ICD greens. I can say that they have genuinely achieved real climate action. On an ICT scale and I can take it up to the national level. I can genuinely say that if we can do that, we can do that.
[00:37:05] We, we can get a house, we can get off gas, we can do all the next. Bits of technology that, you know, I see happening in Europe and all these other countries, we can do it here, but we need to have the voices in there to do it. So it’s a, yeah, there you go. The accidental politician, the accidental visit, you can come with the accidental.
[00:37:22] Germaine: [00:37:22] Yeah. I that’s such a it’s the first time I’ve heard someone sort of explain it in that way. That it makes sense. Right. It’s almost like it’s the system. So. You, you’re not going to fundamentally change it so that what happens won’t happen anymore. So, The the next best thing is, it’s almost like if you can’t beat them, join them and then, you know, hope for change from within like join, join the team or join the group of bullies, but then, then slowly convert every single one.
[00:37:53] So they’re no longer, and I’m not calling politicians bullies. Don’t get me wrong. I’m just saying it’s just another way of thinking about it, right. They’re just a sort of a group
[00:38:02] Jo: [00:38:02] of people. It is a group of, and I think it’s, it’s quite common for the grains too. So a lot of the greens politicians were activists.
[00:38:09] So Sharon Roddenberry who’s out out Karen ICT party leader. He used to run one of the green lobby groups. Um, Caroline Lakota has been an activist for a long time, so it’s actually, I think it would be very unusual in the other parties. I don’t know that I haven’t come across anybody who’s come from that background, but for the greens often, There’s a bunch of activists who are worried about a certain issues and topic, often the environments and you work on that for a long time.
[00:38:36] And then if you see an opportunity to work on them, so I’d be like, well, I’ll hop over here. You guys keep you guys keep up the good work over there. Keep your home, keep checking stuff at us and we’ll see how we go.
[00:38:46] Germaine: [00:38:46] Yeah. It’s um, it’s an interesting one. I I’ll, I’ll tell you that. Like I’ve um, I, I want, you know, personally, I think my sort of.
[00:38:56] Goal is to have as much of an impact in, in just general sort of the community and give back as much as I can. And, um, sometimes I do think, you know, maybe, maybe politics is the way to go. And then I always think, um, well you look at, you look at sort of what’s, um, happening nowadays. And I think instead, what, what another option is just business in general has so much power and, uh, our business, we do, we do marketing.
[00:39:21] We do. We do advertising. So we’re almost in a privileged position to be able to get a certain message across, um, and do it without having to necessarily pay a third party as, as much as, you know, someone else with that, with a lack of that expertise has to do so it’s yeah, I’ve been, and I’ve had this chat with a lot of other people who’ve sort of mentioned, you know, my brother’s thinking of running for this and you know, my sister’s running for that and so on and so forth.
[00:39:45] And we always come back to well, if it’s. If we can swing it. And it’s harder as an individual, I think as an individual, you’re best to do sort of a similar thing to what you’re doing, sort of joining in on the system. But then, you know, I guess I come back to let’s try and build a business that has enough if we think about it, a lot of social causes, um, unfortunately businesses don’t.
[00:40:05] The big businesses don’t like to push social causes. They just like to bandwagon when it’s, I think, um, commercially beneficial for them, um, like all these different movements. Um, but I just don’t see why businesses. Couldn’t just. You know, sort of push that themselves rather than saying you need to buy our latest, shiny gadget, you know, why can’t they make intentional decisions?
[00:40:27] Um, I think that the answer is because of money and, um, just the general capitalism, um,
[00:40:35] Jo: [00:40:35] general, general capitalism. Permanent tension. And I will say that I think our business growth with sending trade is probably slower than it would be. If you didn’t put a socialist in as your chief marketing officer, you know, I come from the set point of nobody should buy anything ever, Oh, here’s this thing you should buy, which is not, not how most, most CEOs would be running it.
[00:40:57] Um, but I actually think now I think there is a really growing conscious. Consciousness, um, of ethical business. And I think starting or joining an ethical business is a very powerful way to make a massive difference that often you can implement much faster than any government agency can. And I, I look at, I look at medium medium-sized businesses like the green shedding camera, which does an awful lot of good.
[00:41:21] And they do, they have a, they’re a huge network of junk in pie businesses, but they do a lot of they’ve given over a million dollars to charity as well in cash. So they do a lot of social good as well. And then I look at a lot of the new, they’re probably not that new now, but the, the new business models like Australian ethical and future super, and a lot of these divestment companies, there’s a huge range of socially and environmentally aware businesses.
[00:41:46] I would never anybody who has a conscience. And wants to be a business person. I think it is a really good time to do that.
[00:41:54] Germaine: [00:41:54] Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I think, um, and it’s, it’s, I think it’s just the general societal sort of consciousnesses is at a level where at least it’s slowly increasing the number of people who think in that way.
[00:42:08] That’s, it’s more about. Um, I would hope, you know, what, what’s happening to society as a whole, what’s happening to the environment. What’s happening to everything rather than what’s happening to me. What can I have? What can I have more of? What’s going to be better for me.
[00:42:24] Jo: [00:42:24] Yeah. Look, I think that’s true too.
[00:42:25] So a lot of these things are small shares, but all of the, all of the models that I’ve come across in my various ventures, you look at things like the new plant foods and it’s a tiny proportion of the population eating a plant foods, only diet, you know, one or 2%. But the market share on the supermarket fight Macy’s is doing this and electric vehicles the same and the divestment is the same.
[00:42:48] So all of these things are very, very small, but they’re the ones that are quickly growing Dina. In 2028, I run a number of share portfolios and be ethical share portfolios are performing extremely well. And. Conventional ones are not. So I think, I think we may be at this little bit of a turning point where collectively we’re starting say, yeah, that’s not really a good way of doing things anymore.
[00:43:14] Germaine: [00:43:14] Exactly. And you know, all majority’s at one point were a minority. So, um, I guess it’s, it’s certainly a, it’s only a matter of time, right? I mean, even iPhones and Apple, these days, it’s so humongous that you wouldn’t think that, you know, In the late nineties, Apple was a bit of a joke. It was, you know, apples who it’s all Microsoft and this and that.
[00:43:35] So, um,
[00:43:36] Jo: [00:43:36] we called that so recently to the late nineties,
[00:43:41] Germaine: [00:43:41] I mean, in the late nineties, right? Like to have an Apple or to have a Mac product would have been. Such a hipster sort of, you know, you’re so different sort of thing to do, um, where nowadays that’s what, you know, the average person, if someone said I have an iPhone, it would be, it wouldn’t be very surprising.
[00:43:59] So, um, that, that, I guess that’s just me saying that, you know, these things are they’re small movements for the moment, but um, to me it doesn’t look like, and, and, and businesses as well. It just looks like people are being more conscious about things. Um, and the big behemoths, I think we’ll realize that it’s commercially better for them to be sustainable.
[00:44:20] And, you know, is that the worst outcome? Not really. Like if, if it’s commercial, you know, commercial reasons that push someone to be more, more grain. Well, that’s okay for now. You know, we’ll just, hopefully that will inspire the next generation to be actually ingrained for, for ethical purposes rather than commercial purposes.
[00:44:40] Jo: [00:44:40] Yeah, absolutely look, I’ve, I’ve given up trying to win people’s hearts or souls. I don’t really care. I’m happy to just win their outcomes. Um, and particularly in renewable electricity, I think that’s what we saw very clearly. So. The climate change people in the environmentalists like me pretty much talk about it the wrong way for 30 years.
[00:44:58] Um, and then when the solar panel industry started taking off, they didn’t even bother talking about the environment. They just talked about saving money and that turned out to be very effective. Right. So we’ll just do that bit long. You get there in the end. It’s a Raj.
[00:45:16] Germaine: [00:45:16] Yeah, that, that, that’s what I come back to as well.
[00:45:19] As long as the overall, the net benefit is positive. Um, you know, obviously you, you try and do things. You would do things ethically, but you know, as long as the outcomes are positive in the end, that’s, that’s at least a more of a win than, than not having that outcome. At all. Um, just before we wrap up, tell me a little bit more about like what you hope to do moving forward and where we can find out a bit more about you
[00:45:41] Jo: [00:45:41] Google, Google, Joe Clay.
[00:45:42] Apparently you’ll get a lot of
[00:45:43] Germaine: [00:45:43] people, so
[00:45:45] Jo: [00:45:45] many different random things. Look, I’ve got my website, the carbon diet, and that is the project around for a couple of years where I cut my footprint. And that of the average Australian was 75%. Running different one where he experiments. I am hoping to turn that into a book.
[00:45:59] I’ve written a lot of articles and make some short films and done some art works on that, but I’m hoping to turn that into a, a chatty book at some stage, because I started that project when I read books like this in other countries and there wasn’t anything in Australia. So I’m having turn that around, obviously, hoping to win a seat for the OCT greens in the act election.
[00:46:22] And then I’m hoping to turn to continue with sending trade and, and turn that into a, uh, an Australian Beaumont that’s free conflicting goals. And I can’t really tell you which one of those,
[00:46:34] Germaine: [00:46:34] but it sounds, you know, it sounds like you’ve got a lot on your plate and a lot of things to look forward to. And I think, um, that alone is awesome and, you know, we share the best on all those different frontiers and I think, um, By the sounds of it, no matter which one wins or the, the w which one sort of ends up taking over most of your life, um, those will be good outcomes regardless.
[00:47:00] Awesome. Are you ready to go into the top 12?
[00:47:03] Jo: [00:47:03] Oh yes. Sorry. I haven’t prepped my top 12. We’ll just have to have to wing it.
[00:47:08] Germaine: [00:47:08] Let’s just wing it. That’s the whole point, top three, um, books or podcasts that you recommend or your reader or a podcast
[00:47:15] Jo: [00:47:15] listener. My favorite book of all time. It’s Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy.
[00:47:19] It’s not new, um, podcasts at the moment. I’m listening to Corona cows. Cause you know, that’s very 20, 20. Um, and I’m also really enjoying the Australia Institute theory. They’re doing a series on, uh, economics that done a lot of really good sessions on the guests industry and electric vehicles. So I’m on working my way through this.
[00:47:38] So that’ll be my top three of them.
[00:47:40] Germaine: [00:47:40] Yeah. Yeah. Wonderful. Next one. Top three software tools you can’t live without
[00:47:46] Jo: [00:47:46] my website will send in tradies with Shopify and I adore Shopify in every way. My website for carbon diet is strikingly and I adore them. They will, they just give the most marvelous customer support and they just so easy.
[00:47:59] Drop-in drag drop and drag. Oh, gotta be dropping drag. And I also use Canva pro, which again is drop and drag design and it is fantastic.
[00:48:07] Germaine: [00:48:07] Yeah. Love it. It sounds like, you know, you just, you just rattle those off really, really quickly. So, um, it’s clear that you use them all the time. Um, Any mantras, top three mantras that you try and live by or sayings that you try and by.
[00:48:20] Oh, I’m, I’m,
[00:48:21] Jo: [00:48:21] I’m actually not much of a self-help person. So this is going to be a bit harder. Let’s let’s start with the two off come up within the environment. Use less tooth greener as two mantras for you. Can we count that as two? Um, No, I don’t have a mantra. I do make sure I do something that I like every day.
[00:48:39] Germaine: [00:48:39] I think, I think that’s as good as anything to live by. So we get, just do something that you like every day. Um, it, I think, I think people sometimes get lost in doing stuff for other people or just doing stuff too, because everyone else is doing it even, even if it’s going to work. And I think it’s nice to be able to just do something.
[00:49:00] Good and something that you like one once a day, even if it’s for, for me, it’s often, um, you know, having a sugary drink cause something that, um, it, it, it’s just nice. So I love that. Um, talk through people you follow or study and, and why.
[00:49:15] Jo: [00:49:15] Ooh, this is tougher. Oh goodness. I’m going to embarrass him. I’m going to mention tiny from the green shed, Tony story.
[00:49:24] I, because we put our business together. Sort of, they incubated us the green sheet, incubated us, and I’ve spent a lot of time around Tony and he’s an absolute dynamo, inspiration of 6 billion ideas. And 9 billion of them will come out. It’s just, it’s just, it’s great energizing person to be around. And he’s landed a lot of really interesting business models.
[00:49:49] So I will definitely name him. Three more people, three more people or accounts. Hello, this is terrible. I’m obviously not. I’m obviously not getting enough sources from people. I’m going to claim the grains on mess. I don’t want to start naming individuals. There’s a bunch of very smart academics, business people and environmentalist.
[00:50:14] So just doing all these amazing things in the grains and this. You can jump in there and get whatever you need on anything like this. And I’m going to climb the school strike as they go. There’s my inspiration, the school strikers, they’re amazing. Children, childrens are organizing mass public events, nailing a media on message.
[00:50:35] They know what my wants. They know exactly what the big problems in the world are. They know exactly how to fix it. And honestly, all I need to do. It’s keep a few seats warm in the assembly until
[00:50:50] Germaine: [00:50:50] Love it. An eclectic bunch of people to follow and study just a few from all over the place. But, um, I love it. I never knew that, um, Tiny’s green shed was named after a person named tiny. There you go. We might have to get him on the podcast.
[00:51:05] Jo: [00:51:05] There’s nothing about that, man. That’s tiny.
[00:51:08] Germaine: [00:51:08] It sounds like a really interesting person to talk to.
[00:51:10] Yeah. Yeah, well, um, that, that sort of wrap things up and, um, thank you. Thank you for your time today, Joe.
[00:51:17] Jo: [00:51:17] Thank you very much for having me. It’s been, it’s been a blast.
[00:51:21] Germaine: [00:51:21] Yeah. Likewise, lovely to chat.