Stay positive. With all the negative media around climate change, it’s easy for kids to experience anxiety. Help them to stay positive by showing that change is possible. Ask them what they hope the world would look like in 10 years? Show them what actions we can inspire to help get there.
As part of my series about what we must do to inspire the next generation about sustainability and the environment, I had the pleasure of interviewing Martin Ochwat.
Martin is a social entrepreneur. He is building MOOP, a company that’s reinventing sustainable personal care products for the 21st century. MOOP’s first product,chewable toothpaste, has all-natural ingredients, earth-friendly packaging, and is innovating your daily routine.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
Igrew up in Canada to Polish immigrant parents. My father was an engineer and mom a food scientist. From an early age, they instilled in me the habits of curiosity and hard work. Growing up, I loved being outdoor sports like cycling and downhill skiing. In the summers (or winters), you could find me riding my bicycle in the forest for hours on end. I also studied Mathematics at the University of Waterloo and moved to the United States.
Was there an “aha moment” or a specific trigger that made you decide you wanted to become a scientist or environmental leader? Can you share that story with us?
After graduating, I worked on a few failed startups. I later got a job at a gaming company, Machine Zone, in Silicon Valley. While the work was motivating, I couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my life working in a cubicle. Longing for more, I quit my job and spent the next 2 years working remotely and traveling to over 30 countries. It was an incredible experience seeing some of the most amazing places on earth ranging from the beaches of southeast Asia, the mountains of Peru, and the Amazon rainforest. It was during this time that I got back in touch with my love for nature. I decided my next business venture would focus on having a positive impact on the environment.
Is there a lesson you can take out of your own story that can exemplify what can inspire a young person to become an environmental leader?
I’d recommend looking at your personal experiences to find how you connect with nature. Do you enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, going to the beach, or watching a beautiful sunset? Use that personal connection to inspire you. Think about what you can do to make small sustainable changes in your everyday life. Once you’ve done that, it’s easier to be a leader and inspire others to do the same.
Can you tell our readers about the initiatives that you or your company are taking to address climate change or sustainability? Can you give an example for each?
My latest company MOOP reinvents products we use every day like toothpaste, shampoo & deodorant in a sustainable new format. They feature clean ingredients, innovative new designs, and planet-friendly packaging. We’re actually launching our first product, chewable toothpaste, this month!
Our goal at MOOP is to encourage consumers to make small changes in their everyday routines that add up to a big impact. For example, by replacing traditional toothpaste with refillable chewable toothpaste, we can help divert the 1 billion toothpaste tubes that end up in landfills each year.
Can you share 3 lifestyle tweaks that the general public can do to be more sustainable or help address the climate change challenge?
- Be conscious of what you buy. After spending 2 years traveling, I realized how few things were necessary for my daily routine. Before making a new purchase, I pause to think of what value the product will add to my life. Another rule I set, is each time I buy a new piece of clothing, I have to donate another piece. This keeps me accountable for not accumulating too many things.
- Small changes compound over time. Look at your daily routine and think of what small changes you can make today. Do you order a coffee each day? Considering purchasing a reusable travel mug to refill instead. Eat out for lunch each day at work? Skip the takeout container by bringing your own. Or better yet, prepare lunch ahead of time at home.
- Get educated. There’s a lot of information out there about sustainability. Read articles about recycling or composting, attend a local event, and connect with like-minded people. The more you learn about the topic, the better decisions you will make.
Ok, thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview: The youth led climate strikes of September 2019 showed an impressive degree of activism and initiative by young people on behalf of climate change. This was great, and there is still plenty that needs to be done. In your opinion what are 5 things parents should do to inspire the next generation to become engaged in sustainability and the environmental movement? Please give a story or an example for each.
Parents are the biggest role models for kids. Sharing your passion for the environment is one of the best ways you can inspire them. Here are a few examples you can apply today:
- Get active. Find local environmental events that you can take part in with your family. Is there a beach or garbage cleanup in your area? Don’t be afraid to bring kids to climate demonstrations as well. By participating in your local community, you can help be part of the change.
- Live sustainably at home. Remember the term taught in school: reduce, reuse, & recycle.
- Be conscious of new purchases you make (reduce).
- Reuse what you have as much as possible. As a teenager, I once asked my dad why we had a 10+ year old Honda civic. “Why not get a new cool BMW like my friends’ parents had?” He came back to me with “why do I need a new car”? His answer made me question my prior beliefs and has stuck with me to this day.
- Be sure to practice recycling (and composting!) in your home. These are habits that will stay with your family.
- Learn together. While learning about how to be more sustainable, why not get your kids involved? Share articles, videos and other interesting information you come across in your research.
- Inspire creativity. Kids love asking questions. When a question comes up related to sustainability, take this as an opportunity to have a deeper discussion. Question the way things are and brainstorm together new solutions. Inspire the idea that because something has always been one way doesn’t mean it has to continue that way.
- Stay positive. With all the negative media around climate change, it’s easy for kids to experience anxiety. Help them to stay positive by showing that change is possible. Ask them what they hope the world would look like in 10 years? Show them what actions we can inspire to help get there.
How would you articulate how a business can become more profitable by being more sustainable and more environmentally conscious? Can you share a story or example?
Consumers vote with their wallets. People are starting to demand that big businesses make more sustainable decisions. The pressure is being placed on them to come up with innovative solutions to our climate change problem.
One example of this is Seventh Generation. They set out on a mission to eco-friendly laundry, home and cleaning products. As a result, they are able to connect with customers looking for more sustainable products and sell them at a premium to competing brands. Eventually, Seventh Generation was acquired by Unilever for close to $700 million.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
One person I’m grateful for is my significant other, Angelica. We’ve been together since college and she’s pushed me to become a better person. Whether it’s quitting a job, taking on a new business venture, or living abroad, Angelica’s been very supportive along the way. We work together as a team to achieve our business and sustainability goals.
You are a person of great influence and doing some great things for the world! If you could inspire a movement that would bring the greatest amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I believe we’re currently working on the greatest movement (in fact, it’s a #moopment). Our mission over time is to create more sustainable products for your daily routine. The best movements start out as small efforts by a few people and snowball into bigger changes. By influencing everyday consumer habits, we can build a more sustainable future together.
Do you have a favorite life lesson quote? Can you tell us how that was relevant to you in your own life?
“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” — Malcolm X
I’ve always prioritized education in my life. When starting a new project, I like to learn as much as possible about the new space.
For example, I spent years learning digital marketing in the gaming and eCommerce industry. Now I’ve focused on learning about the ins-and-outs of sustainability. Whether it’s reading about recycling facilities, studying new packaging materials, or finding creative solutions to reduce plastic waste, I’m always learning.
By becoming a world-class expert in sustainability, I aim to make the best choices for my business and for all our customers.
What is the best way for people to follow you on social media?