Reusability – Single use items should be used only when necessary. Buying second hand or sharing is best as it extends the life of a product. Consider how much CO2 was generated per use of the product, the more it has been used the less its impact vs. its utility.
As part of my series about companies who are helping to battle climate change, I had the pleasure of interviewing Avishai Greenstein.
Avishai Greenstein is the Brand Manager of Method Sourcing, managing a growing portfolio of sustainable home brands such as Bamboozle. Greenstein oversees product development, marketing, and sales across multiple industries.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Ibecame interested in sustainability from a technological standpoint during my time studying business at RIT. At the time gas prices were skyrocketing and I was exposed to novel solutions by the engineers around me. We all felt as if this was our generation’s problem to solve. I continued my passion for sustainability as I retrained into the culinary field during the recession of 2008–2010 where other opportunities for a recent grad were limited.
I had worked in the field in various capacities until 2015 when my uncle asked if I would like to work with him on a new venture. I was apprehensive about working in manufacturing especially in the polluting plastics industry. As it turns out the project was a new sustainable materials housewares line, and it was my constant talking about sustainability that had prompted my uncle to reach out to me.
What is the mission of your company? What problems are you aiming to solve?
Founded in 2015, Bamboozle is passionate about making products with a purpose and strives to inspire others to make a positive impact by choosing to use housewares products that respect the environment. With the rapidly growing trend of becoming greener, Bamboozle’s broad selection of products offers sustainable homewares without sacrifice — offering usability and appeal.
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?
The most impactful way to address the environmental problems of today is to transform the product itself. Careful consideration towards raw materials, production, packaging, logistics and the products end of life are key in reducing harm.
By replacing most of the plastic content of our product with bamboo we have lessened the carbon footprint of the product significantly. Using ground offcuts from other bamboo products, instead of newly grown bamboo, saves them from being put in an incinerator. Our most recent product, Astrik, replaces plastic with PLA; completely cutting the use of oil-based plastic from our mix.
Utilizing existing, and sometimes defunct, machinery to create the product extends the usable lifetime of the machine. This helps to further spread out the impact of creating the machine.
Maximizing shipping efficiency by carefully planning sizing for full containers and never using air freight reduces the carbon cost per product for each mile traveled to its destination.
Using simple craft packaging to minimize breakages while using as little material as possible. Packaging is rarely appreciated by the customer for more than a few minutes yet costs energy to make and generates significant waste.
Using biodegradable materials reduces the long-term impact of the product on the environment. No product will be used for long enough to account for a multi thousand-year decomposition time. Our products measure biodegradability in years or decades, not centuries or millennia.
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?
To truly achieve this, unsustainable business practices will have to change. Over the last two years as consumer interest in sustainability rapidly increased, we were offered a golden opportunity to join a revolution. We are already approaching the point where due to lack of competition sustainability becomes incredibly profitable. Shortly thereafter due to legislation, consumer values, and resource scarcity, sustainability will become the only option. Every retailer, manufacturer, and brand must ask themselves if they want to become the authority on sustainability within their industry or pay dearly to be the last to adopt. This moment is do-or-die for our planet, as well as our businesses.
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.
- Responsibility- Your everyday actions touch millions; make them positive. By shopping responsibly, you not only save a small amount of CO2 from entering the atmosphere, but also fund those who are innovating and education accelerating their progress.
- Tenacity- Balancing our lifestyle and the environment has constant setbacks. Never lose heart or give up on the goal. Love the process and celebrate every tiny personal achievement.
- Patience- The process to become a sustainable society is slow an iterative. Be patient but seek constant improvement. There will be no silver bullet for a while. Participate in solutions that move the needle in the right direction.
- Quality- Value what you have instead of how much. Buy high quality, sustainable goods that will last a while even if they are expensive. If you cannot afford it consider waiting until you can.
- Reusability- Single-use items should be used only when necessary. Buying second hand or sharing is best as it extends the life of a product. Consider how much CO2 was generated per use of the product, the more it has been used the less its impact vs. its utility.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
- “Look at the next step instead of the peak.”
Building a business around long-term goals is important, but always comparing your progress against that goal will lead to constant disappointment.
- “Most people are not ready for this yet.”
To someone environmentally minded, it seems absurd that anyone could be ignorant of the issues. It is our job to educate and push forward towards the day where this is an accepted reality for all.
- “Some decisions will feel like you are going in the wrong direction.”
There are more reasons to do something than a direct beeline toward your goal. Building relationships, engaging competitors, or spending resources on side projects can result in progress.
- “Listen to everyone all the time”
Ideas and wisdom come from unexpected sources. Our most popular product was an off-the-cuff suggestion from a mom-and-pop retailer that never bought a single product from us.
- “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.”
Many of us are waiting for the silver bullet to solve climate change. If we just wait it will never come. 10% harm reduction is better than 0, especially if next year you can gain another 10%.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful toward who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I, and the brand, owe a lot to our owners Steve and Valerie Greenstein (Who also happen to be my aunt and uncle). On a personal level they had given me the opportunity to rise to the occasion with responsibilities that would have been unavailable in a traditional corporate setting. All throughout educating and supporting me during my, sometimes contentious, growth as a brand manager. It is due to their sacrifice, reinvestment, and resourcefulness that we were able to bootstrap Bamboozle.
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 truly believe that we can maintain our lifestyles while reversing the damage caused to the environment. I would call on governments, manufacturers, and retailers to consider sustainability and the carbon cost of everything they do. Large institutions need to build a path towards a shift in our materials and the sources of our energy through investment and incentivization. Most consumers will not, or cannot, change their lives completely. However, if given the opportunity to effortlessly do the right thing, they will.
Do you have a favorite life lesson quote? Can you tell us how that was relevant to you in your own life?
“It’s a definition that if it’s not renewable, it’s going to run out at some point.”– Elon MuskIn 2017, when I watched this 60 Minutes interview, Bamboozle was undergoing serious growing pains of a startup. This caused me a lot of personal stress. This rather obvious statement reminded me why we chose this difficult path. It simply and perfectly reminds us all that it is imperative that we work to make the change we want to see.
What is the best way for people to follow you on social media?
This was so inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!