Community//

Entrepreneurs Tackling Climate Change: “First we all must acknowledge there is a problem” With Farzan and Jen Dehmoubed

First, we all must acknowledge there is a problem. Second, governments and business must work together to ensure those smaller businesses…


First, we all must acknowledge there is a problem. Second, governments and business must work together to ensure those smaller businesses are not forced to close because of rash decisions. Phasing in legislation or eco-friendly solutions so those business can adjust will make a difference. Putting people out of work will not do any good and only compound and heat up the debate and rhetoric even more on this issue. Common sense and collaborative measures must be taken to ensure everyone can succeed in business. Those business with the resources to scale up faster than small businesses could be incentivized to move even more quickly to find or develop eco-friendly products to bring to consumers.


I had the pleasure of interviewing the husband-and-wife team of Farzan and Jen Dehmoubed, founders of Lotus Trolley Bag. They are a Southern California couple who became frustrated with plastic bag waste and decided to do something about it. Founded in April 2017, the reusable bagging system they created has save more than 37 million plastic bags to date.


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

Time and time again we would forget to take our plastic bags to the grocery store. We would also end up with more plastic bags taking up space and cluttering our kitchen because we wouldn’t remember our bags. It came to a boiling point and we said enough. We were tired of dozens of plastic bags clogging our cupboards and tossed in the trash to end up in a landfill or the ocean. We decided to take action and created this reusable bagging system to eliminate the need for single-use plastic bags, and at the same time gave us a much better method for organization while shopping. Our home became free of plastic bags, and we only need a maximum of two trips at any time to bring our groceries inside our home. And we never forget our bags because we put them right back in our car after we have packed away our groceries.

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

 Our mission is to be an innovative, eco-friendly company providing practical solutions that make a lasting impact on our environment. We want to inspire people to provide a sustainable future for generations to come. Together we will make a direct and significant impact in the fight against plastic waste.

We are striving to make a dent in the plastic waste epidemic. Notably, the average U.S. family uses 1,500 single-use plastic bags per year, while only a small percentage of those bags are recycled. In addition, our innovative product makes shopping easier, faster and more organized providing consumers a reliable solution to plastic bags.

Can you tell us about the initiatives that your company is taking to tackle climate change? Can you give an example for each? 

Once initiative is to to conduct outreach and education through our social media platforms. By putting out factual information from credible sources, we are engaging our followers to relay to them critical information so they can make an informed decision. For example, by reducing the number of plastic bags consumers use, we are leading to less oil being used to produce those bags. Removing plastic bags from the environment also reduces the amount of pollution and greenhouse gasses (methane and ethylene) released into the environment and atmosphere. A study from the University of Hawaii at Manoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology reveals plastic bags begin emitting GHG once sunlight hits the bag, and GHG continue to be release even after sundown. When our customers purchase our product, the eliminate these plastic bags from the environment and the release of unnecessary GHG into the atmosphere.

What was the most difficult thing you faced when you first started your company/organization? Can you share how you overcame that. This might give insight to founders who face a similar situation. 

My wife and I both came from industries outside of manufacturing and retail. To develop a new product and deal with prototypes felt like a daunting task at first. However, through extensive research, a lot of hard work and invested time, we stuck with our business plan and found solutions to overcome challenges including sourcing, shipping, manufacturing, marketing and distribution. Also, going through Alibaba and learning how to source manufacture was tricky at first, but became effective avenue to develop prototypes and deliver the product to market. Another source of information, which we never used prior to this business, was listening and learning from podcasts ranging from how to list on Amazon, sourcing products and launching a Kickstarter campaign.


 
 Many people want to start a company to tackle environmental issues, but they face challenges when it comes to raising enough money to actually make it happen. Can you share how were you able to raise the funding necessary to start your organization? Do you have any advice?
 

My wife and I took a leap of faith into something we believed in and started our company with our savings. After seeing initial demand and success with the product, we both took another leap of faith, leaving our full-time jobs with benefits, to concentrate on the company full time. As we grow, we made need outside funding and will start planning once we are ready to seek outside funds.


Do you think entrepreneurs/businesses can do a better job than governments to solve the climate change and global warming issues? Please explain why or why not.

 I think entrepreneurs can play a very key role in innovation new products or solutions, but support from the government in the form of subsidies and grants play a huge role in supporting entrepreneurs/businesses. It should be a collaborative effort between business and government, although government should play a bigger role in influencing big businesses in making eco-friendly changes.

What are some practical things that both people and governments can do help you address the climate change and global warming problem? 

First, we all must acknowledge there is a problem. Second, governments and business must work together to ensure those smaller businesses are not forced to close because of rash decisions. Phasing in legislation or eco-friendly solutions so those business can adjust will make a difference. Putting people out of work will not do any good and only compound and heat up the debate and rhetoric even more on this issue. Common sense and collaborative measures must be taken to ensure everyone can succeed in business. Those business with the resources to scale up faster than small businesses could be incentivized to move even more quickly to find or develop eco-friendly products to bring to consumers.

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?

 My wife, Jennifer. It has been such a amazing experience birthing this concept with my wife. She has been instrumental in the design, functionality and look of the Lotus Trolley Bags. She brings a much needed womens touch and fully understands what busy moms are looking for to make their life easier. It has been a great experience working as a husband and wife team and am glad that we can combine our individual skill sets to create something we are proud of.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

1) Starting a business is not a part time gig.

2) That you have to work 12–14 hour days for weeks or months

3) Bringing in a team of outside consultants is crucial to success.

4) Expect major communication and cultural challenges if manufacturing abroad

5) Listen to more podcasts relating to your industry every opportunity you get.

You are a person of great influence and doing some great things for the world! If you could inspire a movement that would bring a great amount of good to the world, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂 

To rid the world of plastics. Plastic bags take hundreds of years to disintegrate, linger in our oceans and waterways and poison our environment and atmosphere. Whenever a group cleans an area that use to attract visitors and tourists, those people flock back. No one wants to visit a pseudo-garbage dump. We all could live cleaner lives and leave the planet better than we found it. Our responsibility to pick up after ourselves does not stop at our doorstep.


What is the best way for people to follow you on social media?

 People can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Don’t be shy, tag and engage with us! @lotustrolleybag

This was so inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Originally published at medium.com

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.