Andrea Chase of Arbonne: “Create a climate budget”

Create a climate budget. You cannot improve what you do not measure, therefore a great first step is to understand your family’s carbon footprint. There are many carbon calculators out there to help you get your arms around your current emissions. As part of my series about companies who are helping to battle climate change, […]

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Create a climate budget. You cannot improve what you do not measure, therefore a great first step is to understand your family’s carbon footprint. There are many carbon calculators out there to help you get your arms around your current emissions.

As part of my series about companies who are helping to battle climate change, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrea Chase.

Andrea Chase is the Director of Corporate Responsibility & Social Impact at Arbonne, a certified B Corporation. Previous to this role, Ms. Chase specialized in working with companies to analyze and benchmark current businesses practices to create unique environmental and mission driven social impact strategies that optimize profits while considering all company stakeholders. Ms. Chase has a demonstrated history of leadership in environmental industries and is an expert in project management; brand and identity execution; international product development, launch and compliance; sustainable business benchmarking and auditing; and several process specific, product specific and company-wide sustainability certifications. Ms. Chase’s passion lies in environmental stewardship and education. For the last five years, she has served the sustainability community as the Executive Director of B Local Los Angeles, a community of Los Angeles B Corporations dedicated to sharing knowledge to better each other’s business practices.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Of course, thank you ever so much for having me!

As with many in the impact field, my career path has stemmed from my deeply rooted love for nature and unbridled interest in understanding natural ecosystems. From a young age I spent summers learning about marine biology at sea camp on Catalina Island and found great peace in spending time in nature, whether it was under the depths of the ocean scuba diving or hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains where I grew up. This is an inherent part of who I am and is really the driving force behind my passion driving my career path and my actions in my day to day life.

I began my career in communications and was lucky enough to be supported by several bosses who saw my interest in social and environmental responsibility, allowing me opportunities to explore this topic while in marketing roles. In 2013 I certified my first B CorporationTM. The certification experience was one of the best free sustainability educations I ever received and inspired me to take a stand in my own life -to never work for an organization that wasn’t a social enterprise again. It opened my eyes to innovators who were redefining success in business to be centered on stakeholder needs and wellbeing. It was like a light bulb went off, this movement and commitment to stakeholder wellbeing is the future of capitalism. A capitalism that could help tackle social and environmental problems, instead of reinforcing these issues inherently created by shareholder focus.

In 2015 I co-founded B Local Los Angeles, the B Lab endorsed affiliation of Certified B Corporations in the Los Angeles area, in an effort to bring together these business innovators for the purpose of knowledge sharing and bettering each other’s businesses. Over the years the group has grown exponentially and has fostered a sense of community and camaraderie between B Corporations in our region. Strong partnerships with forged with other like-minded organizations, like Conscious Capitalism Los Angeles, and local universities, like University of California Los Angeles, Pepperdine University and California State University Channel Islands, to spread the word about the B CorpTM way to benchmark business practices against stakeholder needs. Seeing the ripple effect of this movement and my lectures given has been one of the greatest joys of my career.

Eventually I founded my own sustainability consulting company, which of course is a Certified B Corporation. My work focused on helping many businesses certify and re-certify as B Corporations and, more importantly, worked to integrate B Corp like principles into countless other organizations. I am a firm believer in the fact that not every organization is meant to be a B Corporation, but if all organizations adopted from of the B Corp like principles into in their business, we would see a tremendous positive impact.

Fast forward a couple of years and I received an email from a B Local Los Angeles Board Member and close friend about a job opportunity that “had my name written all over it.” After reviewing the role and learning more about the organization, I decided it was worth exploring as I believed it would be an opportunity to expand my ability to have a positive impact in the world. Spoiler alert, that job was with Arbonne and to my delight, Arbonne is authentically committed to making a positive impact for stakeholders through the way we do business and through our incredibly passionate community of consultants.

What is the mission of your company? What problems are you aiming to solve?

Arbonne is on a mission to empower people to flourish through sustainable and healthy living. As a social enterprise and a Benefit Corporation we take this responsibility to both people and planet very seriously. At its core we are:

Committed to developing high-quality products that support holistic healthy living for all.

A purpose-driven company building a company culture focused on sustainability and worker empowerment.

Committed to creating an inclusive community interested in accelerating a global culture shift in business balancing people, planet and profit.

To ensure we are taking these focuses into consideration in all that we do, in late 2019 we created our Sustainability Compass. Rooted in 5 stakeholder pillars — Environmental Impact, Community Impact, Customer Welfare, Employee Welfare and Company Governance- our Sustainability Compass is our North Star guiding our social and environmental impact efforts.

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?

Through the Environmental Impact lens of our Sustainability Compass, we are focusing our efforts on improving our operational practices, creating transparency through third party verification within our value chain and taking a hard look at our products.

Although Arbonne has been carbon neutral through offsetting since 2017, we do not believe this is enough. Offsetting is important but does not get to the heart of the issues driving greenhouse gas emissions. In order to address climate change, we must reduce our own dependency on fossil fuels and move to more renewable technologies. As such, we have set lofty operational goals to tackle our greenhouse gas emissions. By 2022, all of our sites worldwide will be running off of renewable electricity or renewable energy credits. I am proud to share that in July of 2020, our UK office became our first ever carbon neutral location powered by 100% renewable electricity and heating technologies. By 2025 we will slash our Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions by 50% and 75% by 2030. While we are still wrapping our arms around Scope 3 emissions, we have identified several emissions reductions opportunities as well. For example, this year we took a look at the energy consumed by our external servers and were able to make changes that resulted in a 61% reduction in energy consumption and related greenhouse gas emissions.

But these types of changes must extend beyond our organization and to our partners in our supply chain. Our organization is committed to transparency within our supply chain and we have partnered with third party verifiers, such as EcoVadis, to assess whether our partners uphold the “value” in our value chain. We require our key suppliers to meet minimum EcoVadis scores and have even set up mentorship programs to help bring our partners along on the improvement journey with us.

Since Arbonne was founded, we have been innovating using plant-based and scientifically proven ingredients with high standards for safety and sustainability. All our products are co-developed with experts, rigorously tested for quality, safety and efficacy and certified by third parties. Therefore, when reviewing our products, we decided to focus on packaging. By 2025, all of our products will meet the circular economy and at a bare minimum will be recyclable in worldwide recycling streams. We are 72% of the way there and in 2019 we launched ArbonneCycle, our program to recover hard to recycle product components and give them a second life, in the US market. In December of this year we will be expanding ArbonneCycle worldwide, ensuring that all our customers can divert their product waste. This program allows us time to design with end of life in mind and embed sustainable thinking into our new product innovation processes. We also have our sights set on reducing 50% of the plastic found in our packaging and including post-consumer recycled resin in all of our plastic packaging by 2025. Supporting economic demand for recycled materials is an incredibly important part in supporting the circular economy. By moving our packaging into renewable materials and moving to recycled plastic materials for what plastic components remain, we can do our part to address plastic pollution issues worldwide.

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?

Sustainability at its core is rooted in efficiency. Although it is sustainable to put in place water conserving fixtures or high efficiency lighting, there is a direct financial payback associated with these types of operational improvements. For example, when we were looking at moving our UK office to renewable electricity, we were surprised to find that it was actually cheaper energy than our non-renewable electricity sources. Additionally, when we were looking to upgrade our manufacturing plant to high efficiency lighting, we were delighted to find out that our utility company offered rebates to help incentivize customers to adopt sustainable fixtures. These rebates greatly increased our ROI and pushed us over the edge to implement the improvements that aligned with our values. There is a common misconception that sustainability is always expensive, and in some cases it can be, but it is important to remember that sustainability is rooted in efficiency and efficiency often results in cost savings.

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.

The Climate Strikes last year were absolutely amazing and participating in the marches in support of the youth is one of the best memories of my lifetime. It is so important that we do not lose this momentum. Here are a few things that we can do, as families, to help combat climate change.

Go Vegetarian or Vegan, at least for a few meals a week. Plant-rich diets reduce emissions and also tend to be healthier, leading to lower rates of chronic disease. According to the book Drawdown, business-as-usual emissions could be reduced by as much as 70 percent through adopting a vegan diet and 63 percent for a vegetarian diet.

Reconnect with nature. Not only is spending time in nature good for your mental health, it is a way to forge a connection and love for something outside of yourself. This connection is crucial, as humans will only fight for things we care about. Whether its going for an afternoon hike or starting a small garden at your home, make time to spend in nature away from the ever-increasing digital world in which we live.

Cut back on single use plastics in your kid’s lunches. There are so many amazing products out there now to help you eliminate single use plastics, especially when it comes to food packaging. From metal bento boxes, to reusable silicon bags, to bees wrap, there is a product replacement out there to store all of your go to sack lunch favorites.

Vote with your dollar. As consumers we have incredible influence through the power of purchase. When buying for your kids or family, be sure to do your research on the product you are purchasing and the company you are purchasing from. Consumers have the power to move markets and by purchasing from sustainable companies you are helping to support an equitable economy for your kids and future generations.

Create a climate budget. You cannot improve what you do not measure, therefore a great first step is to understand your family’s carbon footprint. There are many carbon calculators out there to help you get your arms around your current emissions.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

You have to start somewhere. We are all at our own places in our respective sustainability journeys and we all have to kick start the journey somewhere. Remember to be kind to yourself with wherever you are at and to continue to press forward despite where others may be in theirs.

Start small, every little action adds up. This builds off of the previous statement. It is so easy to look around and feel deflated comparing ourselves to others. Don’t fall into that trap, what’s most important is that you started and are moving forward. In my university lectures I have a statement, “The world doesn’t need every organization to be a B Corporation. What we need is every organization to adopt B Corp like practices.” These small efforts across the board would result in an incremental impact that no one organization or person can accomplish by itself.

Don’t ever stop being curious and learning. Sustainability is an ever-evolving field and it can feel like you are always behind on the latest trends. That’s okay! Follow your interests and your curiosity. Even though it is imperative to have a baseline understanding, allow yourself the opportunity to become an expert in one of your passions. Keep curious, my friends. Curiosity leads to creativity and we need some serious creativity to solve some of the world’s pressing issues at hand.

Community is EVERYTHING. Surround yourself by others who inspire you to be the best version of yourself, by those who press you to think outside yourself and consider new ideas. The old saying you are who you hang out with is true. Be sure to align yourself with those that promote personal growth and passion through authenticity.

Promote efficacy and empowerment, over fear-based messaging. It seems like every day we are presented with new data that supports the doom and gloom of our future. Climate change predictions now show less time available to make changes that would curb catastrophe worldwide. Micro plastics are now found in the deepest depths (Mariana Trench) and highest points (Mount Everest) on earth, not to mention throughout our bodies including in our organs. Sustainability can be a depressing and overwhelming topic and that can shut people down, creating efficacy is crucial in influencing behavioral changes that are needed to address these wicked problems. For 5 years I worked for a water conservation technology company during the height of the California drought and through my public speaking I found that the only way to influence consumer behavior to make changes is to empower people to believe that they can take small actions into their own hands.

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?

This is a really tough question for me as I have been fortunate to have a handful of incredible mentors from both the B Corp community and the places I have worked.

The most influential of my mentors, came in a pair and they were the former Community Manager from B Lab and the CEO of the certified B Corporation, Ma Cher. These two recognized my strengths and talents before I recognized them in myself and pushed me to take on local leadership roles very early on in my career. It is because of their kindness, patience and support that I was able to create and grow the local Los Angeles B Corporation community. It was through them, that I was able to see the best version of myself and leverage my passion to inspire and influence others. My gratitude for their support, camaraderie and mentorship is immense and simultaneously humbling. Their support steered my career in a direction that I would have never imagined possible and for that I am forever grateful.

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 like to think I am currently living in my dream impact movement to use business as a force for good. I have rooted my career in advancing education of sustainability in hopes of influencing businesses to do better and future business leaders to demand better. Through Arbonne I have the unique opportunity to influence hundreds of thousands of consultants in our worldwide community to adopt a more environmentally and socially conscious lifestyle. Through Groupe Rocher, Arbonne’s parent company, I am supporting a launch of a learning academy for all Groupe Rocher brands that educates employees about natural ecosystems and reconnecting to nature. Through B Local Los Angeles and our partnership with prominent Southern California universities and sustainable business groups, I am able to spread the word about using business as a force for good and the benefits of the stakeholder corporation. I am a firm believer in the ripple effect, and I hope that with each of these activation’s that at least one person is inspired to make change through their own consciousness and choices.

Do you have a favorite life lesson quote? Can you tell us how that was relevant to you in your own life?

Life is a journey, try to relax and enjoy each step along the way as they are all interconnected to prepare us each for the future. Often we get so caught up trying to get to where we want to go or to who we want to be, that it is easy to forget to cherish the moments of evolution that get you there. Those challenging moments are the ones that press us to grow, to learn and to rise to the occasion. Just as carbon turns into diamond under immense pressure, these challenging moments in life give us all the opportunity to evolve and get to the next level of personal growth. I’ve found this to be incredibly true for my own career. With each step I’ve taken forward, even though the path was sometimes winding and at times riddled with self-doubt, that there was something to be learned that could be applied to the next opportunity that presented itself. We all face ups and downs but we each have the power to have a positive attitude and learn from our failures to press forward armed with new learnings and perspectives.

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